Skip navigation.

Slightly too much rain

Posted by Guy Barter on 11 Jul 2007 at 07:12 PM

Like many veg growers I really don't like prolonged hot, dry sunny weather, but I have to admit last week was a bit too much of that particular good thing, rain. 

It is not often that a garden of sandy soil in the south-east where the rainfall is usually less than 650mm, is too wet in mid-summer, but that was the case.  Mostly, I expect my garden to yield about 30 percent less in an ‘average' year, than a garden with a moisture retentive soil.  Sandy ground gives better over-winter and early crops but main season and late crops typically suffer from drought or are just not possible.  The relatively small areas of clay soil on my plot are nearly unworkable at the moment, but when the rain gives over I can get onto the sandy soil areas within a couple of hours. 

Weeds have grown luxuriantly, crops suffer from lack of nutrients as soluble minerals are leached by the rain, crops that need sunshine such as French beans languish and slugs multiply.  

Although I have been able to find gaps in the rain to apply fungicides to slow down the spread of diseases and fertiliser to replace nutrients washed too deep into the soil for hungry crops to find them, there have been no gaps in the rain to apply insecticides to control the upsurge of caterpillars in the brassicas.  

On the other hand the potatoes are growing astonishingly. Brassicas, carrots, celeriac, celery, leeks and parsnips relish the wet and peas and beans take days to go over-mature rather than hours in hot weather. Although weeding is a chore, there is no watering to do which is always a soul destroying activity in prolonged heat waves.  In fact the cool conditions seem to be inhibiting blackfly, greenfly and red spider mite. 

Cabbage root fly has killed the odd calabrese plant and infested some of my reserve brassica plants.  Fortunately the calabrese has already given up their main head, but the reserve plants have been repotted after the grubs have been carefully squidged. 

While I wait for the ground to dry out enough to start sowing again, I have been harvesting peas and beans in abundance.  The wet has meant that rust and chocolate spot disease continue to defoliate the broad beans.  Mice have started to take peas and I find little piles of nibbled peas.  The crop is so heavy that there is sufficient for us both. 

As pea crops are cleared the wire netting and stakes are moved over to keep deer out of the French beans. 

The first courgettes, dark green ‘El Greco' have been cut and seem set to yield enormously.  Yellow ‘Ibrido' courgettes are close behind and have been generously fed with growmore. 

I thought that I had enough fertiliser to see me through the summer, but I am getting through it so fast that I bought a couple more sacks of growmore.  There should be enough now until the allotment trading hut reopens in February.


No comments have been left