Record rainfall and resilient vegetable gardens

More than 63 inches of rain has fallen so far this year on the Baltimore/Washington region, breaking a 129 year record. Gardeners are more often in the habit of hoping and praying for rain during hot, dry spells. This year we shook our heads in wonder as buckets of rain repeatedly pelted our gardens.

Climate change has already begun to increase yearly rainfall in Maryland. The NOAA State Climate Report (data through 2014) shows that “annual precipitation has been above average for the last two decades. The annual number of extreme precipitation events (days with more than 2 inches) averaged 2.5 days per year during 2005-2014 compared to 1.8 days per year during 1950-2004.” Scientists expect a 5-10% increase in Maryland’s annual precipitation by 2050.

Saturated Soil
Vegetable crops may recover from a24-48 hr. period in saturated soil
(where water replaces air in pore spaces). Photo credit: Wisconsin Horticulture

Resiliency is defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” Farmers, gardeners, and researchers are looking for practices and strategies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help us adapt food production to the rapidly changing environment. What makes this so challenging is that in addition to rising average temperature and precipitation we will have more unusual weather and extreme events, including drought! So what can gardeners do to improve garden resiliency in the face of excess rainfall? Continue reading