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Rain ... rain ... and even more rain!

September 27, 2013
By H.I JEAN SHIELDS ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

I am sure everyone's rain barrel is spilling over right now. In fact, it seems like the whole world is spilling over in Southwest Florida. Do the words feast or famine sound familiar?

We suffer through so much dry, hot weather without one drop of precious rain for so many weeks and then suffer through slashing rains that are usually reserved for the big hurricane visits. Not fair. Hopefully, the aquifers are all filling up to the brim.

I have seen some sprinklers diligently doing their thing. Why anyone does not understand that one or two inches of rain for two days in a row is more than enough to keep their grass growing - without the sprinklers running.

I have never lost anything due to a flooding problem, however I can understand the frustrations of water running in the front door and out the back.

When fathers have to give a child a piggy back ride down the street to catch the school bus or ruin the family car trying to drive through the small stream that used to be their road, it is a real hardship. Flooding is so destructive in so many ways.

Mother Nature has no mercy at times. She cares not for rich or poor, is color blind and is completely unsympathetic to all the hardships she can cause.Some things we can change and some things we cannot and just have to endure.

Autumn has arrived and these wet times will subside ever so slowly and with a little luck, by the month of November we will be able to dry out in time to take a big breath as life slides us through the coming holidays.

Gardening is not really that great right now, unless you are just maintaining a lake with a lot of water lilies. There are puddles everywhere, probably full of millions of incubating mosquito larvae. Weeds are easier to pull with the soft soil. The lovely bird of paradise is flowering like there is no tomorrow. Would be a good idea to sprinkle some food around the base of their clump, in about two weeks. I use the pellets from the big box garden market. The ones in the shaker.

Hopefully, any trees that were planted weeks ago were stabilized so that as the soil shifted and water swirled around their base, they had something to hold them straight. Trees that still became tilted should be straightened up quickly and firmly. Watch so that soil is not packed against the trunk. Do not even cover up the soil tight around the trunk with mulch either. Some mulch may have floated away, replace it soon.

My cherry tomatoes and bell peppers have weathered the winds and the rain well. I still grow them in the big black plastic pots. No soil-born critters have learned to climb into those pots as yet.

Roses seem to be liking the cloud cover that makes it a bit cooler some days. They do not like the heavy humidity, however, should have been planted with a good spacing around them so they always had good air circulation. You might want to feed them because of the heavy rains.

Monday, Sept. 30, is the end of the summer Fertilizer Ordinance, use a slow-release nitrogen type. Try watering the lawn once a week now, the cooler weather slows the lawn growth and that should be enough for an established lawn. The humidity and heavy rains really stressed my marigolds this year. I re-planted them once before I realized it was the weather doing them in and not my gardener's touch.

The purslane pots have done well, they like the extra water as long as it drains well and the humidity never seems to bother them.

I am not happy about the ugly frangipani leaves falling all around the ground, however I could never give up such a beautiful and sweet smelling tree.

My geraniums are struggling along. Some gardeners do not consider the geranium to be a summer flower here in the southwest. I cannot resist them and have some in the soil that are under and kind of behind some tall plants that shield them from the hottest sun and they have plenty of space for air flow. They get pretty soft around the first of September but I just trim them and feed them a bit so they will be ready for a big trim in October, and start their fall blooming.

Start looking around the plant markets for some nice, hardy, fall plants and maybe even a little tree. There will be a Native Plant Sale at Manatee Park in mid-October and they have nice healthy stock of flowers, greens and trees to select from.

Happy gardening till we neet again.

H.I. Jean Shields is a past president of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.



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