I saw somewhere that we have had some form of measurable rain every day except for three days during the month of May! With wet conditions like this, you’ll need to do a few things to keep your plants healthy and happy. Heavy rains leach a lot of nutrients out of the soil and also provide conditions that benefit disease growth.
Hopefully your gardens were designed to have decent drainage. If you are seeing puddles that last more than an hour or so in your garden, you might consider raising that area up a few inches next year by adding more compost to raise the level of the soil or building a raised bed. Plants that sit in standing water will not do well as the roots need air to breathe.
If your plants are draining well, you’re in good shape, but will likely need to fertilize your plants again to replace nutrients washed out by the heavy rains. Hopefully you fertilized your plants with a balanced fertilizer like Tomato Tone when you planted. You can now sprinkle a handful of the same fertilizer on the soil around the plant and gently scratch it into the soil. You can also use other non-organic fertilizers, but make sure they are a balanced blend. Avoid most Miracle Grow formulas as they tend to be very high in nitrogen and will cause your plant to grow very tall and leafy, but also cause it to not bear fruit.
I use a 20-20-20 water soluble fertilizer I inject into my drip irrigation system an have great results using this in small quantities. Be careful not to use too much or you can burn your plants. I have used a 10-10-10 granular fertilizer in the past and had great luck with it as well.
If these numbers don’t make any sense, click this link to learn more about what they mean.
Another problem we’re going to have from these wet conditions are plant diseases. Septoria and Fusarium are two of the major problems we have here in Kansas City. Copper based sprays are a good organic option for disease control. Non-organic options are Daconil, Ortho Garden Disease Control, or Mancozeb.
No mater what you use to control or prevent disease, you need to apply them regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions and re-apply after heavy rains wash them away. You will also need to be diligent in pruning any branches of your plants that show signs of diseases and make sure you prune the bottoms of your plants to allow for air circulation…check out my video for more details.
Hopefully this rainy period will end soon and we’ll get some warm sunshine to dry things out a bit and get us back on track to a bountiful gardening year!