So it’s raining, but you want to be gardening. What to do now?

It’s a common problem this time of year for the eager East Coast gardener. But a well tended garden needs more than your blissful engagement on those sunny days! So let’s talk about how you quash that gardening urge on those drizzly days too.

For starters you can get out & have a look at your tools.

What broke last year you forgot about? Who got put away dirty & needs to be cleaned up? What are you missing from your arsenal? What needs to be sharpened? Even a low cost tool will last longer & perform better when sharpened & cleaned regularly, this will keep your season running smoother. So take a look around, get things tidied up & organized, because if you’re like me, nothing slows the intent of progress down like running from one place to the next trying to find the tool you need only to realize it’s a mess or missing entirely.

Gardening Tools

Is the rain really coming down & there’s no way you’re stepping out in it?

Well review that garden plan you laid out for yourself while you were all ambitious & optimistic in January. Have you added some new things but never actually plotted them in? Or maybe some of your starters or seeds have been left out now or were not available at all. Take a look over your plan & make sure it’s still somewhat close to the reality of what you’re doing. Whether you’re adding more or leaving something out, it doesn’t hurt to re-take stock of your plan in these early days of Spring before you get lost in the fever dream of Summer planting.

Another prudent thing to do in the rain is to go observe what’s happening in your garden beds. Are there places the water is pooling & creating puddles, or running off & causing erosion? Best make a note of that for when true planting time is here. While some of us may not be a big fan of the rain, lots of common pests are at their best when it’s soggy. You should have a look at who is taking up residence in your beds & think back to who was the bane of your gardening existence last season. Then you can set yourself into research mode & get ahead of those issues before they take hold. I just discovered one very hungry caterpillar making a feast of my echinacea starts this morning. It’s since been evicted!

partially eaten echinacea

There is no better time to seed your lawn then when rain is steadily in the forecast.

Most people come looking for seeding during the summer not realizing the huge commitment it takes on their part to watering. Not only is that hard on our Islands water table, it’s a really boring way to spend your evenings, because it is nearly pointless & not very water conscious to just leave your sprinkler on during the heat of the summer days. Even an established lawn slows its growth in the height of the summer, so seeding at that time is an exercise in futility. Make use of what nature is giving you & get those spots seeded now or find yourself waiting till the Fall comes around again.

While we’re making use of the rain, how’s your rain barrel or collector working?

Check for any debris that may be clogging it up. Maybe you aren’t using one but have been considering it. No better time to start than now! Turn a rainy day into a satisfying garden DIY project or check & see if your community may be giving them away for free. It happens! Also, if you have an open compost pile, a rainy day is the perfect time to do some turning & make additions.

Rain Barrel

Another useful way to spend these rainy days in the garden is weeding & installing your stakes & trellises.

Weeds are more easily removed in moist soils, even those with pesky taproots. It also works the other way as well, stakes & trellises are more easily installed in the moist ground. So pull em out & put em up! Then you’re ready for planting when the rain subsides. Seeds and transplants benefit from going into the nice moist ground, it helps with germination, transplant shock & establishing roots. It also saves you lugging a bucket to dip your plants in as you get them in the ground. Just be sure to cover any tender transplants if more heavy rain is in the future. Make sure the angle of your cover allows water to run off & not pool on top & crush them. You can even set them up before you place your starters in them to test if they’ll work how you hope come a downpour.

Well, seems like we’ve now found we’ve got lots to keep us busy as the rain comes down, so we best get at it.

Happy growing out there!