by Beth Cook, Mammoth Cave Transplants
For a gardener, rain is most generally a welcome blessing. However, sometimes there can be too much of a good thing. Excessive rain on plants can cause plenty of trouble in the garden. Overly wet weather causes diseases via bacteria and fungus caused by long term moisture on foliage and root systems. Our gardens have recently been hit by plenty of rainfall. You might be wondering how to garden in wet ground and what are the effects of wet weather on the garden...
Excessive rain on plants promotes disease often evidenced in stunting, spots on foliage, decay on leaves, stems or fruit, wilting and, in severe cases, death of the entire plant. Extreme wet weather also keeps pollinators at bay affecting bloom and fruiting. Insects don’t fly as often or fly as far having to struggle against the rain. They pollinate fewer blooms and without pollinated blooms, your plants can’t produce vegetables. Many plants can pollinate using wind but heavy rain can knock the pollen from the blooms and cause the blooms to fall off. Other bugs, such as slugs, also begin to be seen in the garden as well. It is very important to remove them as soon as possible. If weather allows, make sure to spray an insecticide to kill and prevent other insects from damaging your plants.
The larger reason for no or slow vegetable production is that too much rain will saturate the ground and displace the air spaces in the soil. The roots then suffer from oxygen deficiency. Like you and me, plants can’t breathe under water. When a plant's roots are damaged it is hard for them to survive the hot summer days when a drought does occur.
When we get a lot of moisture on foliage for a period of time, and then we get the right weather conditions, you may see leaf spot diseases and other problems occur. When you see disease symptoms, it’s too late to spray. You have to have those fungicides on the plant before the problems occur. The best thing to do in that case is to pull off any of the diseased leaves, eliminate them from the garden because of potential secondary infection, and hopefully the new growth won’t be as affected.
Another big issues with excessive rainfall that gardeners may be experiencing is weeds, whose growth is aided by rain and warm temperatures. It’s very important to get out there and pull those weeds before they go to seed. If you let weeds go to seed, you are going to cause more problems for yourself next year. Once you get the weeds cleaned out, you can use a pre-emergent herbicide like Preen, mulch or newspaper in between your rows and around pants. Use something that is going to prevent future weed growth from occurring.
The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow