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How to Grow: Dealing With Drought
Learn the best ways to reduce the effects of drought on your plants.
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Baby it’s hot out there…. and dry. Some areas of our region have received only 50% to 75% of their normal rainfall. That combined with hot, sunny days has an impact on the garden.
The first thing you’ll notice is your soil will either repel or devour the available rains and added water. In clay soils, even summer down pours won’t help for long. The soil is so dry, much of the water runs off. For sandy or loamy soils, they will suck up the water so fast the ground seems dry again soon after it rains.
This doesn’t help plants. Some effects you’ll see include berry size on blueberries and raspberries being much smaller. Some fruits may even drop before maturing if they’re severely drought stressed. You’ll see water stress symptoms, such as blossom end rot, on tomatoes. As the soil gets wet from watering or rain then dries out quickly, the moisture fluctuation causes a calcium deficiency in the tomato. The cell wall breaks down and rots. Simply pick and remove those fruits and hopefully the new ones won’t have the same problem.
Leaves of trees, such as horse chestnut, have brown edges. This scorching won’t hurt the tree, but sure doesn’t look good. Insect pests are proliferating. Tomato horn worms are out sooner than normal devouring tomato leaves and chomping on fruits. Look for their black droppings, find the worms and drop them into a pail of soapy water.
To help your crops along mulch well, water deeply and infrequently (especially for new trees and shrubs) so the soil stays moist down deep. This may not cure all the symptoms, but you should be able to get some production from your garden.
From the Vermont Garden Journal on Vermont Public Radio.