Many portions of Kansas have received heavy rains and/or severe weather, including high winds, hail and, in a few cases, tornadoes. Our small garden ecosystems may have seen some damage as well, although not as bad as others or even our next door neighbors. So how can we help our gardens recover?
The force of rainfall pounding on the soil can result in a thick crust that prevents seed emergence and partially blocks oxygen from reaching roots. A light scraping after the soil surface has dried is all that is needed to correct these problems. Be careful of deep tilling as it may damage young, tender roots.
Running water, even on a small scale, can wash seeds and even plants out of the ground or seriously expose their roots. This is especially true if you planted in nice, neat rows. Check and replant or recover the exposed roots with good soil. A root exposed for even a few hours can suffer. Also check that mulch is still where you intended.
Standing water cuts off oxygen to the roots. This can result in plant damage if it doesn’t drain quickly enough. Most plants can withstand 24 hours of standing water without harm. Hot, sunny weather can make a bad situation worse by the water becoming hot enough to “cook” the plants. There isn’t much that can be done about this unless a channel can be cut to allow the water to drain. This may indicate an area that needs attention to its landscaping.
Plants should recover quickly as long as the leaves only were damaged by the hail, as leaves regenerate quickly. The situation becomes much more serious if the stems and fruit were damaged. The plant can recover from a few bruises, but if it looks like the plants were mowed down by a weed whip, replanting is in order.
Either wind or water can cause plants to lean. They should start to straighten after a few days. Don’t try to bend them back as they often break easily.
— Stan Ring is the Horticulture Program Assistant for K-State Research and Extension in Douglas County. Extension Master Gardeners can help with your gardening questions at 843-7058 or firstname.lastname@example.org.