Everyone knows gardens cannot survive without rain, but this year it seems that we have been given to much of a good thing. The abundant amount of rain we have received has  caused an increase in cases of fungal diseases and other conditions that result in a reduced harvest.

Yesterday, I spent the morning at the Bell County Forestry Camp with the Bell County Extension Agent, Stacy White. We were there for the second in a series of classes the extension office will be conducting for the inmates. This class was on, Maintaining your garden. We began the class in the classroom were Stacy explained about Nutrition, Irrigation, Weeds, Insects and Diseases.

Nutrition: The importance of having your soil tested to make sure the soil has all it will need to grow healthy plants.

Irrigation: Making sure your garden has the water it needs to grow.

Weeds: Remove them from your garden!

Insects: Stacy discussed the most common insects found in Kentucky gardens.

Diseases: Stacy discussed Blight: A condition that kills tomato and potato plants . Signs of blight are brown spots on the stems, leaves and eventually on the fruit. Spores can be dispersed by the wind to new plants, which can develop symptoms within about four days. Powdery Mildew: Signs of powdery mildew are white powdery spots on the leaves, stems, and buds. This is caused by excessive moisture on the leaves, warm days and cool nights as well as overcrowding of plants.

After we discussed all of these components the class moved out into the garden. The inmates were given the opportunity to share their gardening experiences with Stacy as they explored the garden looking for insects and evidence of other problems in the garden.

Ways to Protect Gardens from Damage

Stay on top of the harvest, the longer produce stays on the vine in wet humid conditions, the more it stands the risk of spoilage.

Dig trenches to redirect water if a certain area of the garden collects too much rain.

Mound plants or build raised beds; Elevating the soil level in rows of vegetables or planting in raised beds improves drainage and helps the roots from getting too much water.

Add mulch; A layer of mulch will help soil stay aerated and well-drained.

Keep plants off the ground and avoid overcrowding.