Danélle Cutting: Too much rain as much a problem as too little

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 20, 2016

As I write this and prepare for my second farm tour of the week, a childhood phrase comes to mind: “Rain, rain, go away, come again another day.”

The past few weeks, we have received a decent amount of rain. Although I am very thankful for the rain that we are receiving, I do not want a repeat of last year. It would be nice to have one field day or farm tour not in the rain. This rain has caused numerous issues with gardening, so this week’s questions relate to the rain.

Question: I was not able to attend the broccoli workshop because of the rain. Did you reschedule? If not, will you provide the results?

Answer: We proceeded with the broccoli workshop because we had an indoor facility. The group was also able to visit the broccoli field after the weather cleared up, so I think the program was a success even though we had bad weather earlier in the day. As for the results, we are happy to provide anyone our research information. The post-harvest information is still being collected, but we should have the results by the end of summer.

Question: I am having blossom end rot, but my soil sample said that my pH was a 6.5; why am I having this issue?

Answer: Ah, the infamous blossom end rot. We had this issue last year due to the drought, and we are having it again this year because of the excess moisture. Typically, blossom end rot is due to the plant not being able to uptake calcium from the soil, and it is usually because the pH is too low.

To prevent this, we ask all gardeners to take soil samples and to make sure that their pH is around a 6 to 6.5 to prevent blossom end rot. The only time that this method does not work is when we have drought or excessive rain.

This year, we have received a few calls about blossom end rot and for the most part, the pH has been good. However, with the excess rain, the calcium is diluted and results in tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, etc. that have blossom end rot. There is not much that you can do except take a soil sample. You can also use a calcium foliar spray. The spray will help the symptoms, but it is not a complete cure.

Question: Will you still have the DIY (Do It Yourself) program on how to garden in poor soil and steep slopes? I saw that they are cancelling if it rains.

Answer: I am by no means a meteorologist but I do know that weather fluctuates. I did see that it is calling for rain so if we receive rain, we will reschedule the DIY program for July 30, on the same day as the herb DIY program.

With this rain, we may see more disease and problems with our gardens. Be sure to keep an eye out, scout and monitor your gardens to keep ahead of disease and pest problems. If you have any questions concerning plants, gardening or disease, please call your local agent, Danélle Cutting, or the Extension Office at 704-216-8970.