It is hard to imagine getting too much rain in some parts of the country, but here in NE TN, it is a force to be reckoned with if you are growing your food crops biologically without the use of chemicals.
This is where the old saying "an ounce of prevention goes a long way", it is a true statement.
It is much easier to try to prevent the bacterial and fungus problems that can occur than to try to stop it once it starts.
These are the 6 steps I take to reduce disease and increase plant production naturally on our farm;
#1 ~RAIN GAUGE
We use a rain gauge to determine our areas rainfall, this is a tremendous help. Each area in this part of the country has its own little microclimate, you can leave home and it might be pouring down rain, you drive 20 minutes in a different direction and its dry and the sun is out and that area never receives rain that day. It actually happens in any part of the country where there are mountains.
This is a factor that attributes to these microclimates to begin with, I find it quite interesting. Keep a record from season to season to give you an average estimate of your specific areas rainfall.
It is imperative that you pick the very best location on your property that can assist with natural drainage, while not causing erosion issues and ultimately loss of critical topsoil. I prefer to plant a field crop on a slight slope if possible. A person can use swells or tiles if necessary. Keep in mind the steeper the slope the more nutrient loss, ideally it would be very slight slope.
You might be thinking why is rain #1 on the list, because, how on earth are we going to keep up with all of the nutrients our plants need, if the rain causes them all to leach out?
It is therefore really important to know your average rain fall and location to protect that healthy soil we are trying to create.
Here at Orchard Creek Farm we DO NOT till the ground, we build our soil from the ground up. Whether you use no-till, or till or grow in raised beds, containers, etc.., it is important to start your direct sown seeds and young plants in healthy soil. I recommend having a soil sample done PRIOR if you till, all the other methods described do not need a soil test prior, but you may want one after, but its not necessary in my opinion.
#4~ SEEDS and PLANTS
Choose the right seeds and plants for your area.
We choose when at all possible the disease resistant vigorous varieties of seeds to start.
Selecting the right seed and plant varieties is one of the best defenses against disease.
One of my favorite subjects! It is very unfortunate that mulch is used so little, this is one of the most important things a gardener can use in ANY climate. It holds in moisture, it blocks torrential down pours, it prevents nutrient loss, it keeps roots cool and dark, and protects the microorganisms in the sub soil, and all of these benefits help to control bacterial and fungal disease, it also helps control insect damage, especially in areas that receive heavy rains.
#6~ CROP ROTATION
Try to avoid planting the same crop, or the same plant family member in the same spot every year. This will prevent pest and diseases from multiplying and help break their cycle.
Photo of Swiss Chard grown on my farm.