We’ve just gone through a very long stretch of wet weather. What effect has this had on plants and what is in store for the rest of the growing season? Raised beds and planters have fared well, as has any area with good drainage. Campanulas or bell flowers that bloom sporadically form me are still blooming profusely. The double white bell flowers (Campanula persicifolia grandiflora alba) that rarely bloom are a wonder to behold. Daylilies also have done well. Corn is enjoying the bountiful moisture. Cucumber, melons and squash seem to be happy with the extra moisture.
The cooler weather and lack of sun that accompanied the rain has extended the growing season of shade loving plants. The huecheras or coral bells are still exhibiting the colors that generally fade as the sun gets brighter and the days get hotter. Hostas have also fared well this year. Some of the larger leafed hostas are very susceptible to sun burn. They have been spared the browning of leaves that normally occurs in hotter, sunnier weather.
So what hasn’t done well? Roses are a disaster unless they are in well drained soil. Those on the Pershing lot, the embankment and Mary’s bed are beautiful. All are in areas that are naturally dry or drain well. The bountiful moisture has been a boon. To roses in the well drained areas. Most of my roses are not growing poorly and not blooming. . Having lost all of their leaves to frost twice, they were then subjected to torrential rains. Those planted recently have succumbed. Some of the older plantings are limping along. While roses normally do well in clay soil, too much water has saturated the clay and has had adversely affected the roots.
The cole crops, broccoli; cauliflower; and cabbage, are mostly going to produce little this year. The rains hit just before the plants were heading up. The smaller roots on the plants apparently rotted during the days of constant rain. Without these roots the plants cannot take up nutrients and oxygen. The plants themselves wilted and turned yellow. A few plants recovered enough to produce small heads but there will be no side shoots or larger heads. Oddly, the purple cabbage seemed to be less affected than anything else. It is a later cabbage and perhaps it wasn’t at the same stage of growth as the other cole crops. (To be continued next month)
Peppers and eggplant are small for the length of time they have been in the ground. They too started to yellow and wilt from root damage. Since they have a longer growing season they may recover to produce some fruit. At this point it is up in the air.
So is there anything that can be done to help plants that have been subjected to too much rain? There are a few things but some of them should have been done before the rains. Gardens and planting areas should be located across a slope and in good sunlight. Plantings on a slope will still often be affected by torrential rains. Water will make its own channels and wash out seeds or small plants. Digging drainage trenches around gardens will often help direct water away from the growing areas. Mulch will also help although it can also wash away in torrential rains and later provide a breeding ground for disease. Use compost to lighten the soil and improve drainage.
If you have a few prized plants that are in danger of being drowned you can build the soil up around them so that water drains away from them. Some gardeners suggest using a tomato cage or other supports and plastic to keep foliage dry during continuous rain. Plastic used in this manner should be draped loosely.
Anything that will increase air flow around plants is also helpful. Pull the weeds and cut back perennial foliage that has been damaged by the rain. The thicker the foliage the more likely that decay and diseases will prevail. Cut back damaged annuals, as well. There is still time for annuals to resume blooming.
Excess rain will wash nutrients out of the soil. Nitrogen may be in low supply as nitrogen fixing bacteria in the soil may have been affected adversely by the excess rain. Refertilize your plants.
Stay of wet soil. Walking on wet soil will compact it and inhibit root growth. Disease can be spread by moving among wet plants so it is best to stay out of the garden during wet weather.
I saw gardens that were planted through black plastic that did well this year while plants in nearby areas that were not mulched with plastic did no fair as well. Perhaps the plastic kept some of the rain off the soil although normally soil under plastic stays fairly moist.