Waterlogged Soils, Skunk Cabbage & Spring Smells in the Forest

P1270115I hope your garden does not look like this unless it is meant to have Skunk Cabbage growing out of a boggy area, in which case I would say “Great”. However, at this time of year snow-melt and heavy rains combine to waterlog most garden soils here on the rainy west coast: during winter this is usually not a problem short-term since most plants and their associated life are not very active, and the water should drain away. That drainage is important: if the waterlogged soil is compacted by working it or walking all over it, the air spaces are degraded and the soil drainage reduced. Therefore, the best advice is to stay off it if possible, unless of course you are building a skunk cabbage patch.

During warm weather however, water logging can rapidly kill many plants not adapted to such an environment, as soil and plant processes are much faster, resulting in damaged or diseased root systems, and subsequent problems with water and nutrient uptake. A potential cause of such problems is excessive watering by in-ground irrigation systems. However, that is a subject for another time.

Here is a skunk cabbage with emergent leaves which is finally going into flower and releasing it’s distinctive aroma (so evocative of Spring in the forest, it should be bottled, in my humble opinion):P1280176