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Lawn and Garden

Moisture Issues

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06/01/2011 - Do you know the saying, "April Showers bring May flowers"? Well in Casper this year it was, "May showers bring June flowers". I couldn't believe how wet and cloudy May was this year. I am pretty sure I only counted four sunny days all month long.

Usually when it rains people say, "Well at least we got the moisture". I imagine that I am not alone when I say I think we have enough this year. The river has wanted to leave its banks for almost two months now. Although I have liked to see pathfinder reservoir staying so full the last couple years.

Usually our problem in the garden is keeping things watered. This year we have had a little break from that so far, but with all the extra moisture comes a new set of problems for gardeners to deal with.

Things we might have to deal with little most years we will see more of this year. Things like powdery mildew can cause big problems on crops like roses, cucumbers, squash, and many others. Blossom end rot, and sooty molds can affect tomatoes, making for a bitter harvest when you turn that juicy red tomato over and stare that mushy brown end in the face. Anyone who has ever picked a tomato with this affliction knows what I mean. It's like finding a twenty dollar bill in your pocket, then realizing it has been through the washer and the dryer, and now it rips every time you try to un-wad it.

Now some people reading this might be saying, " I thought blossom end rot on tomatoes comes from a calcium deficiency." You are right, it can. But, it becomes much more prevalent when moisture levels on the ground going into the evening are high. Most years when people come into the greenhouse and ask why their tomatoes look like something out of a bad horror movie, the first thing I ask them is, "What time of day do you water?" Nine times out of ten they tell me they water after work. When the sun goes down the tomatoes cool down faster than the ground so moisture collects on the underside of the fruit. This makes the conditions on the bottom of that tomato just right for developing rot. By switching to morning watering most of the rot can be avoided.

If it stays rainy into August it might be necessary to treat your plants with a calcium spray, like Rot Stop or another brand. Other fungi like powdery mildew can decimate entire gardens, and once they start they are very hard to stop. So your best bet is to water all your plants in the morning so that you are not promoting conditions that might start an infection. If it is a non-edible plant like roses a preventative spray of fungicide, such as Rose Pride, or a copper based fungicide will help combat the wet weather.

With any luck we are going to have some more summer like weather from here on out . But if you see signs that an infection might be starting be pro-active, change your practices, and maybe begin a treatment program. As I said before, fungal diseases can only be prevented from spreading, they cannot be cured once they have infected a tissue. Good luck with all your gardening this summer.

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