Hot and Wet

When was the last time you watered your garden...? Oh, you say, not since May? That may be because it has been raining pretty consistently all summer long. While I have certainly enjoyed the might and glory of our Mid Atlantic thunder storms, and it's nice to never worry about watering... the ramifications for gardening are not so great.

You might have noticed most tomato plants wearing some forlorn yellow to brown leaves around their base- those are signs of Early Blight or Septoria, fungal diseases that get worse when the plants never get to fully dry out.

I've also seen different kinds of fungal diseases on everything from bush cherries and Monarda to Columbines and Lilac bushes. Earlier this season a fungal pepper disease came through that wreaked havoc with farmers. I heard of one well-known local organic farmer who lost their entire crop of specialty hot peppers they had been growing for a local restaurant. And hot peppers are really hard to kill! They never seem to suffer the way sweet peppers do...

I've also noticed mosaic virus and downy mildew on cucumber and squash plants- these fungal diseases usually take down your squash and cukes...but not until the end of the season. With so much rain they seem to be moving faster and earlier then usual.

All this to say, every season is different, sometimes it's dry and if your irrigation system is weak or faulty you start loosing plants. Some seasons it rains every day and while we never need to worry about watering...everything dies from a fungal disease.

Here are some things to consider:

-First of all, if you have an automatic irrigation system- make sure it is not adding insult to injury by watering when all your plants want is a chance to dry out.

-It's a good idea to remove the small branches and leaves around the bases of your tomato plants to create more airflow.

-Mulching with straw could help keep fungal spores from bouncing up from the soil to the lower leaves of plants.

-If you are only seeing the beginning of fungal disease on your plants you might consider spraying some Actinovate or another organic fungicide to try to beat back the progress of the disease.

Regardless, let's enjoy the moisture and warmth while it is here and hope for a crisp fall that is just a little bit dryer...

-- Josh Rosenstein 443.547.9268 www.EdibleEdenFoodscape