MADISON CO., N.Y. — Most of us can agree that we have had more than our fair share of rain over the last few weeks.
Home gardeners may notice their zucchini and other squash are only producing male flowers and have a bad case of powdery mildew. Or maybe their tomatoes are showing signs of late blight, Septoria leaf spot or blossom end rot. Homeowners also may notice a surge in fungal pathogens on evergreen trees or what was a slow general decline of their fruit trees may speed up a little. All plants have a threshold of tolerance when it comes to stress and environmental pressure. In years when we get an excess of rain, plants can confirm for us what we already know: it’s too wet!
Plants need oxygen to live both above and below ground. Yes, they change carbon dioxide into oxygen during photosynthesis, but a small amount of oxygen is required for their night-time process of respiration. Below ground, oxygen is equally important. Soil contains pockets of oxygen which affect the plants’ ability to absorb nutrients through their roots. When these pockets of air are too small or excluded from the soil entirely due to too much rain, a plants’ growth will be stunted. The plant will begin to starve. It’s lower leaves will yellow and fall off as the roots below begin to die off and are unable to support all the above-ground growth.
So what are we supposed to do about it? It’s important to note that many plants have the capacity to withstand quite a lot of stress. Growing crops in raised beds, removing many of the leaves from your squash plants that have powdery mildew, taking advantage of all those extra male flowers by frying up some squash blossom fritters, making sure plants have plenty of airflow inside and around them, spraying your tomatoes with copper sulfate roughly once a week when their leaves are dry, and growing crops using black plastic mulch are all ways to cope with too much rain. They may lose some leaves, they may lose some roots, but when conditions are favorable, they will begin to recover. There’s no doubt that you will lose out on some of your harvest, but chalk it up to experience, the best teacher when it comes to those of us wise and crazy enough to try gardening.
For more information about gardening in Madison County, please visit our website at: http://madisoncountycce.org/gardening or consider becoming a Master Gardener Volunteer. Trainings will begin January 2022 with a sliding fee scale. Contact coordinator Patty Catalano for more info: firstname.lastname@example.org 315-684-3001 ext. 123
Cornell Cooperative Extension Madison County
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