Are you itching to do something garden-related but it’s raining outside? Here are some easy rainy day garden activities you can do to scratch that itch!
If you live in a place that gets lots of rain in fall, winter and spring like we do here on the We(s)t Coast of Canada, it’s hard to get enough motivation to go out in the rain and do gardening.
However there are so many rainy day garden activities you can do indoors and stay dry. Many of these can involve your kids too to stave off the “I’m bored!” complaints you likely will get.
And if you really need some fresh air, you might want to consider some outdoor garden tasks that work best when it is raining or right after a good rain.
So let’s have a look at things to do on a rainy day at home (and a few that are away from home).
Read garden books
This has always been a favourite of mine and of many other people. Nothing beats curling up with a good garden book (physical or an eBook), a warm blanket and a hot cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate and losing yourself in the book.
You might also want to have a pen and paper handy to do some note taking and planning while reading and being inspired, but more on that below.
As gardeners we have a great selection of books to choose from. Here are my favourites!
- The YEAR-ROUND VEGETABLE GARDENER
- A YEAR ON THE GARDEN PATH
- The ZERO-MILE Diet
- THE YEAR-ROUND Solar Greenhouse
- jamie at home
- Japanese Gardens In A Weekend
- Family Raised Bed Garden
And include your kids in garden reading – there are so many great children’s books about plants. I’ll be creating a separate list at some point with some great children’s gardening books.
Create plant labels
This is one of the great rainy day activities for children. I have created my own Fun Plant Labels Printable and these are easy to print out, cut out, laminate and have ready for when you can start planting again in the spring.
However you can also find other ideas on Pinterest for plant labels or plant tags that are not specifically for children.
You may want to do some garden planning first to know which plant labels you need. But if you make extra that you end up not using, you could always give them to friends as birthday or Christmas presents.
Plan your garden
For vegetable gardens I’ve covered this in a more comprehensive post.
And kids can have their own garden too! It can be fun for them to plan out their small plot using colouring pencils or crayons.
But overall garden planning could also be done, especially if you are planning to make some major changes to your garden in the spring and summer months.
Maybe you are going to fire up your favourite 3D drawing tool and design a greenhouse or other structure.
Or you are going to renew an existing flower bed and need to figure out what plants to buy or seed.
You might also need to plan around any longer vacations to make sure you take care of important garden tasks before you go. It might be too early to ask someone to take care of the garden, but maybe you can already put out some feelers.
Go through your supplies and tools
Time to clean out the garden shed! Winter is a great time to do this.
Assuming that you have enough room to move around in the shed and stay dry, use the down time to:
- make sure your tools are well maintained
- buy any tools you don’t have yet and need
- stock up on any supplies that are getting low
And make sure everything is well organized so that when the busy spring planting time hits, you are prepared and not scrambling to find stuff.
Visit a nursery or garden centre
A lot of nurseries have beautiful displays of plants indoors, either in greenhouses or in their showroom/store. It’s always fun to browse through and you might find some great ideas for your garden. Just remember to bring your wallet!
If you already have done some vegetable garden planning, you can buy your seeds so that you have what you need to start seeding at the right time. Just store the seeds in a dry, cool place – I store them in a box in the pantry.
And bring an umbrella so that you can also browse outdoors. Probably there won’t be too many other people, so walking through the aisles of plants will be easier.
It’s also a good time to buy some plants that will benefit from the rain when planted in your garden. Just make sure the temperatures are warm enough so that the plants can establish themselves. Or use row cover to give them a bit of protection until the weather warms up.
Visit a greenhouse
Most regions have some tropical gardens located in large greenhouses. It’s a great rainy day activity to get out of the cold and wet weather and into a humid (a different kind of wet), warm greenhouse where you can take off your jacket and feel like you are in the tropics!
We have a butterfly gardens in our city that we like going to. My daughter loves butterflies so she is delighted to see so many colours of butterflies from the tropics. And there are also tropical birds, a pond with koi and lots of tropical trees and flowers. It’s a great way to spend a morning or afternoon!
If you have your own greenhouse, you can also spend some time in it. Usually the temperature will be a few degrees warmer than the outdoor temperature and it should be dry (unless your greenhouse has leaks!). You can do some cleanup, repot some plants or just sit with a cup of coffee or tea, dreaming about what you are going to grow.
Preserve, cook and bake
If you have an abundant fruit harvest like we usually have, there are lots of things you can do:
- make jam, preserves or jelly
- make applesauce
- bake some muffins, pies, scones (freeze if you are making large batches)
- dry the fruit or make fruit leather/rollups
- make your own trail mix with some nuts, seeds and your dried fruit
With vegetables you can make:
- tomato sauce
With herbs you can:
- dry them and then crumble them up to use in cooking or for tea
- chop up and freeze in ice cube trays with water
- infuse them in olive oil to make your own infused oils
- make tinctures by putting them in high proof alcohol
Build a planter box
If you have a dry place, the right tools and some good instructions you can build some outdoor accessories such as planters, raised beds and even furniture for your deck. Or perhaps prepare parts for a pergola or arbour that can then be erected once the sun comes out again.
In the fall of 2017 once the rains started, my daughter and I built her 2’x3′ children’s garden planter box. She helped by giving me the screws and “supervising”, telling me if I was doing a good job! In early spring we were then able to fill it with compost and plant early season vegetables such as peas and lettuce without wasting time building it first.
Now if you really have to get outside and do something, there are a few tasks that actually are better to do on a rainy day.
And once you are done you can pamper yourself as a reward for braving the weather!
Weed your garden beds
Weeds generally are easier to pluck out of the ground when the ground is wet.
It is messy, muddy work, so be prepared for it by dressing appropriately as mentioned above.
You can compost the weeds or put them in your municipal green waste bin, if you have one.
You can also make fertilizer teas with your weeds or home medicine. Roasted dandelion tea is a great option.
Seeding and transplanting
If you get rain during seeding/transplanting time (such as early spring or late summer) make sure to get out and take advantage of the cloudy skies and damp soil. Seeds will sprout faster if they are kept consistently moist and seedlings will recover better from transplant shock if they are kept well-watered.
If the temperatures are not warm enough or there still is a threat of frost, you can use row covers to protect the young transplants.
So which of these rainy day garden activities are you going to do next time it rains? No more excuses that you have nothing to do; when the heavens open up and pour down liquid sunshine, grab one of these wet weather garden activities and go for it!
Wishing you many rainy days so you can do all these activities!
If you enjoyed this article, have something to add or have any questions, please leave a comment below.
Wishing you all the best!
Tranquil Urban Homestead, Victoria, BC