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Too Much Rain in the Garden

I am experiencing an unusual gardening year.  My normally very productive vegetable garden looks sad.  I will be lucky if I harvest any red tomatoes this summer.  My green beans never grew pods and my peppers rotted before they ripened.

  • Poor gardening skills?
  • PH too high?
  • Late frost?
  • Tired soil?

Rotting yellow sweet pepper (800x600)

No.  The culprit is the 8.15” of rainfall we received in the month of June.  Our average is 4.18”.  This is almost double our normal amount.  We have been holding close to our average during the last eight years I have been keeping records.

Green beans 2013 (800x600)

Why would too much rain cause your plants to stop growing and producing?

1. 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.

2. 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.

Stressed tomatoes (800x600)

My tomato plants are still alive.  They are very stressed. Much of their root system has drowned and has stopped supplying needed nutrients to the rest of the plant. The leaves first turned yellow and then brown.  The fruit stopped growing any larger and grew no new fruit.  If the ground dries out and the oxygen is replaced, the plants may be able to recover to a degree.  I am still holding hope for a few ripe tomatoes even though the plant’s energy will be funneled into replacing roots.

On the other hand, my corn is doing great.  Corn has a very large root system and needs a lot of water to grow.  It was able to utilize the excess water very nicely.  My early potatoes did well too.

Corn 2013 (800x600)

I am not discouraged.  I have been growing vegetables long enough to know that no two gardening years are ever alike.  I continue to garden because of the fascinating predictable unpredictability that unfolds with new each season.  Happy Growing!

Yukon Golds & Red Norlands (800x600)


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