Rain, Rain go away, I want to install my garden today.
This past spring was wet, really really wet. In May, the month new gardeners begin to think about starting a garden, it rained 17 out of the 31 days. March had 14 days of precipitation, April had 17 and June had 14.
This weather was absolutely perfect to plant my returning client's gardens. Carrot, Beet, Spinach and Lettuce seeds germinated in a few short days. Tomato, Pepper, Cabbage and Broccoli transplants spread their roots in the moist soupy soil leading to some of the largest peppers plants I have seen to date.
Soupy soil is not soil that should be disturbed with a shovel or a rototiller, which means gardens should not be installed during periods of wet weather. Even walking through wet soil very quickly leads to compaction and boots full of mud. You can read a previous post about soil compaction here.
Soil tilled during the proper season is light and airy, with an adequate amount of pore space for oxygen and water to supply a plant's root system. Tilling wet soil creates hard dense clumps, which do not allow the proper exchange of oxygen and water. Tilling wet soil can be compared to mixing concrete and the results are very similar; a tilled soil that was wet will dry into a dense hard mass that will not allow anything to grow well in.
By now you may be searching for a solution to this new garden quandary, and the solution is quite simple, install your garden in the fall before your first planting season. When installing in the fall there is no pressure to have it completed before planting, planting will not occur for months. If we get a week of rain during the fall, we can wait until it drys out and install the garden then. If the same thing was done in the spring, you may have missed the window to plant your tomatoes.
Last Autumn I installed a large number of the gardens I planted this spring. I was able to treat these gardens like returning clients; I arrived on the first day that was good to plant and within an hour the garden was growing for the season. Even while I was being rained on.