Heavy rain will make for heavy plant growth.
COLUMN: ROOTS OF WISDOM
More than 5 inches of rain has fallen in the past few days. July is usually a dry month - not so this year. Using the standard measure of 1 inch of water per acre (43,560 square feet) equaling 25,000 gallons, 5 inches of rain equals 125,000 gallons per acre. It is interesting to note that, in a "normal" year (whatever that is), the rainfall for the entire month of July is 4 inches. We received that amount in four days.
Note also that according to some long-range weather forecasts, the month of August may provide us with almost double the normal (3 inches) amount of rain. If the rain keeps coming and even if it does not, what can gardeners expect from their gardens as a result of the plentiful supplies of moisture in the soil and in the air?
The benefits are apparent. As flower and vegetable plants have built large amounts of biomass, we can expect heavy cropping of blossoms and produce. Tall growing plants will need staking and ties earlier than normal to prevent their toppling in the wind and heavy rains. Fruiting crops, vegetables, shrubs and trees should bear full-sized fruit in quantity. Note that the branches of woody plants may need support or thinning so that they can carry the extra weight.
Lawns are green and growing in spite of high temperatures. Water makes the difference. If you will maintain a mowing height of 3 inches, fewer weeds will grow and the grass will be healthier. There will only be limited control of weeds from chemicals at this time. The use of post-emergent crabgrass chemicals can be expected to have little effect on any crabgrass in the lawn.
There are, as you would expect, some challenges to our landscapes from the heavy rains. Do remember that calcium builds bones in people and cell walls in plants. It is provided to plants as ground limestone. Calcium is leachable. Heavy rains wash the available calcium down through the soil beyond the reach of plant roots. Thus, a soil that contained adequate quantities of calcium in the spring may be close to deficient now.
Calcium has been removed from the soil to construct your existing plants. Well-draining soils may have lost calcium to leaching. Calcium may have been converted into unavailable forms by natural soil chemistry. Numerous plant problems are caused by a lack of available calcium in the soil. Blossom end rot of tomatoes, black heart of celery, club root of cabbage, punk centers of apples, and many other abnormalities will be observed as crops mature and their demand for calcium increases.
Your best response to suspected calcium deficiency problems might be to use an application or two of liquid lime. Normally, liquid lime (available at most garden centers in powdered form) would be considered too expensive to use in place of ground limestone, but developing plants need their calcium now, not days or weeks in the future. As with the use of all chemicals, follow directions on the container.
Constant moisture brings diseases. Rain-softened soil allows for maximum egg laying by Japanese, June and Chafer beetles. Expect more grubs in the lawn this fall unless you make use of a grub-control agent. Pull the weeds. Enjoy the moisture. Welcome the new month of August. May it bring a plentiful harvest.
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|Publication:||Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)|
|Date:||Jul 31, 2008|
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