Some tricks with gardening in moist weather

Alice Mannette
A bundle of vidalia onions wait to be purchased at Bornholdt Plantland, 1508 W. 4th Ave. Monday afternoon. The garden center also had businessman onions, candy onions and walla walla onion bundles available.

In central and eastern Kansas, this season’s weather is marked by cooler temperatures and moister conditions. Because of these factors, some gardens might experience slower growth than usual.

“This moisture has been great to get things rooted,” said Jason French, a manager at Stutzmans Greenhouse. “Because of the cooler temperatures, the tops are a little slower getting in.”

Because of COVID-19 and more people staying close to home, Stutzmans’ has seen an increase in novice gardeners. Although most people’s gardens in Kansas are already started, French said gardeners can still plant some vegetables.

Gardeners should make sure that their beds are not flooded and if the plants are starting to get yellow leaves with black dots, French said, the plant probably has some sort of fungus. He recommends treating these plants with organic copper.

According to Kansas State University horticulture specialist Ward Upham, once the soil is not saturated with water, tomatoes should be mulched. This would allow for better filtration into the soil.

“Tomatoes prefer even levels of soil moisture, and mulches provide that by preventing excessive evaporation,” Upham said in a release.

According to Upham, mulch also suppresses weeds, moderates soil temperatures and prevents the formation of a hard crust on the soil, which restricts air movement and slows the water infiltration rate.

“Hay and straw mulches are popular for tomatoes, but may contain weed or volunteer grain seeds,” Upham said.

For onions, Upham said any fertilizer should not be placed directly on the bulb.

“Sprinkle the fertilizer two to three inches alongside the row and water it in,” he said. “Do not fertilize after the onions start to bulb.”

Upham noted that as much as two-thirds of the bulb may remain out of the soil as onions develop. He said that is normal and there is no need to cover the bulb with soil.