A majority of the plants grown in vegetable gardens are annual plants. This means they will typically live through one or two seasons, but require a new planting every year. Why do some plants run out of steam and peter out before summer ends?
SUMMER HEAT GOT YA STRESSED? YOUR PLANTS FEEL THE SAME
Here in Northern California, we often see some of our warmest days in August through September, but the heat waves we experience in early summer can sometimes cause stress to plants. This stress can result in yellowing and poor production, but why does this happen to seemingly healthy plants? Shouldn’t summer plants thrive in heat and sun?
Too much of a good thing can cause problems. Plants like cucumbers, won’t grow until summer nights warm up, but the intense heat of summer days cause sunburn, flower drop and even deformed fruits. As plants mature and the summer season progresses, many of your plants will be exhibiting signs of exhaustion including yellow and brown leaves (especially lower and older ones), no more green growth, and slow production of fruits.
RUNNING OUT OF STEAM & ENERGY
We mentioned a few external factors that affect how a plant grows and ages, but plant aging and death can also be caused by internal factors including plant hormones and nutrient availability. Producing flowers and fruits (and veggies!) takes a lot of energy from the plant, much more energy than it takes to produce leaves. Environmental factors including stressful conditions can signal a plant to shift from vegetative state, where it prioritizes growing larger and producing foliage, to a reproductive state, where energy is directed to flowers and forming fruits. Flowers and fruits pull nutrients and energy from other parts of the plant as it requires more energy than the plant is actively making to produce. This causes growth to slow and yellowing of mature leaves.
HOW TO GET THE MOST FROM YOUR PLANTS
When thinking about the fruits, vegetables and plants we eat, it’s important to remember that the “end game” for them is to produce viable seeds. Many of the produce we eat, we harvest before the seeds fully mature, making sure our fruits and vegetables are full of edible flesh with few or soft seeds. By doing this, we are tricking the plant into thinking it has not fulfilled it’s purpose of reproducing, and it will continue to flower and fruit. Although this cycle is finite, many plants can produce fruits throughout the season. Eventually all annual plants die whether it be external like seasons changing, or internal due to the plant’s hormone signals. Plant’s lives can often be extended by regularly harvesting fruits and veggies before they begin to flower, over ripen, and begin to signal for the plant decline.
IS THIS THE END?!
The decline of plants can be hard to watch as your lush garden begins to yellow, but the change of seasons, in this case, Summer to Fall, also signals a new season for your garden.. A Fall garden! Year-round multi season gardening is the best way to get the most out of space as it allows your to be growing and harvesting a variety of plants all throughout the year. Multi-season gardening combined with rotational planting, helps your soil stay healthy and reduces the chance of soil-borne disease and nutrient deficiencies.
YOUR FALL GARDEN
Our mild winters here in Northern California allow for many gardeners to actively garden through Fall and Winter. Broccoli, peas, leafy greens, are just some of the great edibles to look forward to in these cooler months. Here at Avalow we will begin this transition starting the first week of September!