Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Too Wet Garden

At the Plant a Row for the Hungry garden (PAR) this morning, we had planned to plant the sweet potatoes. The ground was pretty wet, though, like it had been last week, so we decided, after forking up the soil a bit to try to get some air into it, that we would wait yet another week (the slips have been ready to plant for three weeks now).

We looked around at other parts of the garden, and some are doing really well. The summer squashes look good, some of beans (both pole and bush) look good, too, but other beans still haven't come up, and there are holes in the lines of okra where seeds haven't seemed to germinate. The melons haven't all come up, either, and it's been long enough that it is a safe bet they aren't going to.

Even worse, the tomatoes looked miserable. They had looked almost as bad last week, but this week more are dead. We decided to dig one up to try to figure out what was wrong. We started by lifting off one tomato cage and pulling the leaf mulch back from the plant, and this is what we saw:

It turns out that most of the tomato plants were drowning. Luckily, one of our gardeners had her camera handy, and she took pictures so we could show the gardeners who hadn't been able to come to the garden (thanks Gloria!).

The PAR garden has a new irrigation system, installed on Earth Day (for free!), but it apparently is doing too good of a job. Since it is a new system, even though it is miles better than what we relied on before, it is going to take a while to get the watering schedule just right. Before we left, we readjusted it to water less often. If the garden is still wet next week, we will tweak it again.

After discovering that the tomatoes were trying to grow in a marsh, we went back and looked at all the blank spaces in the rows of plantings, where seedlings had not emerged, and it looks as though all the blank spaces are in little depressions in the garden that were wetter than surrounding areas. The seeds probably rotted in the ground.

In an effort to save the remaining tomato plants, we dug them up and I brought them home to plant in a wooden flat filled with Miracle Gro potting soil. Hopefully, they will all recover so we can replant them in a week or two.


  1. Ouch! I hope everything works out, we have had terrible rains all week here, I ended up throwing a tarp over my tomatoes the past 2 days!

  2. Erin, Ouch is right! I wish now that we had taken the time last week to try to figure out what was up with the tomatoes. The good news is that we can turn off the irrigation system. Rain comes down and it can't be just turned off. I hope your garden comes through okay!


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