Has the rainy weather prevented my seeds from germinating?


Since the constant rains stopped, I have tried to replant crops that were ruined with no success. I have planted lettuce, beans, and peas several times with no germination (visible, anyway). Now, I find a lot of my neighbors have had the same problem. My garden was never under water, but we did have rain for many days in succession. The surviving crops are no prize, either! I have the shortest corn I ever saw and will probably not get anything from it.


Jonathan Foster, Special Projects Assistant

There are a number of reasons for poor germination in the garden. Seeds need just the right ratio of water, air, temperature, soil texture, planting depth, and intrinsic seed vigor in order to grow, and any one of those elements out of balance can sabotage the process. Because we’ve had such a rainy season, it makes sense to consider that as a likely culprit. Heavy rain can dislodge seeds (especially small ones, like lettuce), reduce the necessary air pockets in your soil for seed respiration, and promote fungal issues like damping off (which can prevent germination, kill germinant plants, and lead to low quality in the survivors). If you’ve been replanting lettuce and peas during July/August to replace the failed crops, it may also simply be too hot for those cool season seeds to break dormancy (please see MOFGA’s planting schedule for more information). I will also refer you to this handy Univ of MD Extension guide on poor seed germination for other information on what might be going on. It sounds as though you’ve had this garden for a while and know about light requirements, but just in case I will also mention that most fruit-bearing crops need eight hours of strong sunlight every day to grow vigorously and produce a quality harvest.

It also might be a good time to get your soil tested through the UMaine Cooperative Extension Soil Lab–while nutrient deficiencies don’t typically affect germination rates, they certainly affect subsequent plant growth and any pH imbalances that have developed may be contributing to your issues, too.