Dealing with Spring Rain in Your Vegetable Garden

This Plant Require good Drainage
How many times have you read that on a plant tag you are considering buying? The most popular tune of organic gardening is “add more compost”. The second most common (can you name that tune in ONE note?) is “likes good drainage” or “alfalfa doesn’t like wet feet”. Unless it is a bog plant most vegetable, food plants don’t like their roots to stay wet, especially when it is really hot. There are some plants that truly thrive in a moist soil, like lettuce and cucumbers, but don’t do nearly as well (thrive) when their roots are surrounded with water at all times. But most plants will not thrive in soil that is constantly wet. This is one reason raised bed gardening is so popular. Planting in raised beds can provide the drainage your food plants really need. Another thing about plants requiring good drainage, a quote from a movie,

“Yeah, we have that saying too. Everybody has that saying because it’s true everywhere.” Under the Tuscan Sun

Control Fungus
An excess of moisture creates a perfect environment for for fungal and bacterial diseases. To keep from having to go on the offensive, choose heirloom varieties.  A quote from “Heirloom Vegetables Information” University of Nebraska on heirloom vegetables…

But exactly what are heirloom vegetables? Some horticulturists define heirloom plants by the number of years the cultivar* has been in cultivation, with many authorities using 1951 as a cut-off year for heirloom vegetables. Furniture is awarded “antique” status when it is more than 100 years old, but many heirloom vegetables can trace their heritage back for hundreds of years. Others define heirlooms as lines of plants, grown locally or regionally, that have been passed down through families or groups.

Strengthen soil before planting, keeping in mind, watering and feeding. Know that, however well you prepare and care for your organic garden, that heavy rainy spells can be too much for them. You will know if they are succumbing to too much water if fruit starts to show signs of rot or leaf spots show up.

Controlling Powdery Mildew
Powdery mildew grows best when there is high relative humidity at night (which favors fungal spore formation), low relative humidity during the day (which favors spore dispersal), and temperatures of 70 to 80 degrees F. What perfect time to show up than after a nice heavy warm spring rainy spell? There is much university research has to show that both sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and potassium bicarbonate (both used for leavening in baking) are quite effective as fungicidal powdery mildew spray against mildew among other diseases.

Give Plants Some Elbow Room
Plants growing too close together will not have as much air easily circulating around them. This lack of air circulation keeps evaporation from drying out the leaves, so naturally, plants stay wet, longer. Spacing plants properly can be the difference between a major disease problem and a small disease issue.

If you are one of those people or LOVE to water and have a tendency to keep plants ‘moist’, (you know who you are!) remember that frequent watering also keeps foliage wet more of the time (like rain) and increases the likelihood of disease problems (like rain) LOL, seriously, water from the bottom. Whenever possible, avoid wetting foliage at all. As a helpful preventative, install drip irrigation in several areas and notice an abatement in foliage diseases and some savings on summer water bills too. 😉

*A cultivar is a cultivated variety of a plant with specific characteristics that are carried on through each generation.

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