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August 11, 2013

A challenging year for gardeners

This has not been a particularly good year for vegetable gardeners. The weather has been temperamental, hot and dry early on with drought conditions throughout most of April and early May, then turning wet and cold in mid-May and remaining so through June and the first half of July.

In fact, it rained pretty much every day for six weeks straight, pouring, driving rain. Every shower was a deluge. And to make things worse, nights were often cool, limiting evaporation. 

Standing water became common and many gardens remained saturated for prolonged periods. Plants suffered. When water stands or soil becomes saturated, oxygen becomes unavailable for uptake through the roots. Without sufficient oxygen, roots become damaged. Plants decline and may die. Gardeners refer to this condition as “wet feet.”

One Franklin County Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardener volunteer has avoided such growing problems. She ranks among the prepared gardeners who were able to face the challenges. She is using properly constructed raised beds, plastic row covers and a hoop house (mini-greenhouse). Instead of lost plants and poor yields, her gardens are thriving.

She has agreed to open her gardens to the public and host a tour and open house. The event will feature discussions on growing, composting, drip irrigation and other subjects pertinent to successful vegetable gardening. Master Gardeners will be available to answer questions about starting a garden or improving an existing one, caring for your garden, good gardening practices and more.

It will be  held at 1 p.m. Aug. 18. It is free, but donations to the Franklin County Master Gardener Program will be accepted. To register, call 483-7403 or email rlg24@cornell.edu. Directions will be provided when you register.

Raised beds warm up quickly in spring. And, if properly constructed, dry out faster after a rain. In addition, they are designed so they can be covered to keep rain out.

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