My tomatoes, peppers, butternut squash and eggplant plants suffered quite the attack from rain yesterday. It would rain very hard for up to thirty minutes, dry out, the sun would shine brightly and then it would rain again. Mei and I were busy at a party with our cornbread so there wasn’t much we could do about it. I dug trenches in between the plants down a ways in an attempt to divert the extra, immense amount of rainfall away from the roots of my plants so they don’t continue going on being over watered and we headed out to the party.
So today? We had to do something to rescue my precious plants! I got many
suggestions from friends at the party when I mentioned my problem and took into consideration the suggestion from the lady at the nursery who said to move as much of the soil beneath the plants around and mix it with a good quality compost to get it to drain better. There were some old terracotta pots behind the gazebo where Patella likes to do her business that we dusted off a bit and broke into pieces. That part was actually quite fun! We smashed the pots into a corner of the raised beds and took a hammer to the larger, stubborn pieces and set them aside into piles.
With Mei on my hip, we kicked around the soccer ball for Patella and carried around a plastic bag that we were carefully filling with the bits of flint and larger stones we could find in the yard. This was all part of my plan to create a better, natural drainage system for my tomato plants. Once we were done collecting flint and playing soccer, I let Patella go around and chase pigeons in the backyard and set Mei in her bouncy chair to play with toys while I got to working in the garden.
I carefully dug around each of the plants and set them out-of-the-way and got out a box to put the first foot of dirt into. The next foot of dirt I turned over and watered with a gallon of water with half strength tomato food in it and mixed it with some more dry dirt and a handful of the rocks and flint we had gathered. We covered that put to the level where we wanted to place the plants on top of and scattered some terracotta bits around, covered those in dirt, set the plant down and buried it a bit more and covered up all the roots. I’m hoping that the terracotta bits will pull the moisture away from the roots, so they don’t remain waterlogged or over watered and my plants can all flourish. I noticed that the cayenne pepper plant’s leaves were starting to brown – probably due to over watering, so as reluctant as I was to disturb my plants, they would probably die anyways if I didn’t try to fix their situation. Terracotta and other clays naturally pull away or help soils to drain and remain drier – and while it might mean I will have to water them manually, it’s prefferable to having the plants drown. The combination of flint, rocks, terracotta and quality compost should help the plants to flourish – fingers crossed!
I even shuffled around the plants a bit. Some of the tomatoes definantly get better sun exposure than the rest, too bad I can’t lower the fence a bit to get them all a bit more sun! For this season, I think it is going to work out. Maybe next year I can convince my husband to let me build some planter boxes that can rest against the house that get more sun for longer periods during the house to keep my tomatoes in? We can always empty them out and take them with us to our next home after all!
Well, fingers crossed that it all works out! If any of you have any other suggestions out there, leave me a comment!
Oh, and what on earth does it have to do with the Romans?? They used the naturally occurring flint that is native to this area to build irrigation and sewage systems in their time.