AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - A wet May has taken a toll on many local gardens across the CSRA. There was nearly 8 inches of rain in Augusta during the month of May. That's over 4 inches above normal. A lot of the rain came in a 2 week period at the end of the month during a time when young plants are still getting established.
The rain has proven to be been too much of a good thing for local gardens, stunting the growth of many fruits and vegetables.
Doug Allan, a gardener in Aiken says: "It just destroys the growth cycle of all of the plants and that's why you're not seeing as many tomatoes out in the stands and gardens as you do all around the CSRA that are locally grown because so many of the gardens are ending up like this."
There's not much you can do to salvage the crop, but you may be able to start over. Mid-July through August is prime time to plant late season varieties of tomatoes. The ground is already warm and by the time the plants flower, the threat of high heat that can sterilize pollen and prevent fruit from setting has largely passed. You can get a nice crop right up until the first frost in the fall.
You do have to make sure you plant the right variety though. Late season tomato varieties that should be planted in July and August include short season varieties like "Champion Hybrid," "Early Girl," "Early Pick," "First Lady II Hybrid," "Quick Pick" or "Whopper CR Improved," to provide standard fruits. Most cherry tomatoes should mature before the first frost, but "Cherry Grande Hybrid," "Juliet Hybrid," "Sungold," "Super Sweet 100" and "Sweet Chelsea" fruit in less than 65 days.