Monday, 30 July 2007

Summer only postponed

On Friday, 20th July at 16:00 hrs (in the middle of the English Summer) we set of for home in Worcestershire from our week-day-job in Newport in Gwent, Wales. The journey was made unpleasant by the non-stop rain. Half an hour later we were driving through flood water 60cm (2 ft.) deep. Cars were spluttering to a halt, and then marooned, as total chaos hit the Counties of Worcestershire and neighbouring Gloucestershire.

With great skill, Margaret managed to get us of the Motorway, and phone enquiries revealed that the flash floods had made it impossible to reach home. So we settled down for a night in the car in the country, in the company of several hundred other vehicles, while the non-stop rain continued to pour down its misery. The flash-floods flowed into the rivers and the Severn and Avon breached their banks. We managed to reach home the next day, the whole journey normally takes 1 and a half hours, this time it took 22 hours!

A week later, after a few days respite from rain, how did the Cannas take it? Well they are tough old plants, but there is hardly any decent foliage, as well as heavy shredding, many leaves have yellow stripes or mosaic, and we have had to help many plants by unravelling the leaves manually. At any other time, I would have considered that they were suffering with Canna virus, but after two months of hardly any direct light and only a handful of days without cold rain, capped by a months worth of rain hitting them in 2 hours, I am amazed at how strong they still are and logically I must attribute the problems to plant stress.

The technical reasons for the poor state of the foliage is due to several factors:
  • Oxygen is needed in the soil to help roots with uptake processes. Where there is no oxygen, such as in flooded sites, sugar cannot be utilised by the plants to produce energy for nutrient uptake.
  • Nutrient uptake is faster in warmer soils than in cold soils.
  • Plants under stress are less able to take up nutrients, generally due to a reduced or damaged root system.

Comparing the Canna beds with the vegetable plot; the potato main crop has been flattened after potato blight hit, and many tubers are rotten as I dig them up, most of the onions have gone rotten as they grew in the ground, beans are half their normal height, and salad crops have been physically flattened. Basically... everything destroyed. On that basis I can only wonder at the resilience of the Cannas.

So, with a week free of rain promised by the weather man, we now need to help the Cannas recover. So, they have each already had a handful of Vitax Q4 pellets, an all-purpose fertiliser which contains both vital nutrients and trace elements essential for plant growth. This is almost double the price of the Growmore feed that we normally use, but the latter does not contain trace elements and we are working on the basis that the water inundation for two months has leached or washed away much of the nutrients and trace elements. The Q4 also has a higher ratio of potash, which is required by flowering plants, and will be taken up over the next month or so as the pellets dissolve, and therefore this is a long-term solution.

After a few days of sunshine, and the gradual drying out of the soil in the beds and the peat in the pots, the Cannas they will also get a liquid feed of Miracle-Gro to give them an immediate kick-start. Both growing mediums are sodden at present, and anymore liquid will be detrimental. The liquid feed will be repeated after a further week. This is our short-term solution.

Next weekend, the Cannas will get a severe grooming, totally removing stalks with nothing to recommend their foliage, and the growth rate of the new stalks should be fast without the old stalks to compete for resources. In the meantime, we have to hope that summer has only been postponed and not cancelled!

No comments:

Post a Comment