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Saturday essay: And the rains came

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Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or

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Friday, July 5, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

Wrote historian James Boswell 250 years ago today, on July 6, 1763:

“Rain is good for vegetables, and for the animals who eat those vegetables, and for the animals who eat those animals.”

Perhaps. For that exercise in the food chain is predicated on actually having vegetables.

The rains have come. And they don't appear to have any design on leaving anytime soon. One forecasting model doesn't predict a sunny, warm and rain-free day in Western Pennsylvania until Friday next.

Yes, rain is good for vegetables, what with all that great nitrogen and such. But if these rains keep up, it will be nearly impossible to keep up with the early blight that the cool spring and never-ending cycle of rain and humid conditions hath wrought on the tomatoes and the potatoes and an eggplant near you.

All this good news (ahem) came just after adding a sixth raised bed to ease a serious overcrowding problem in the greenhouse. The eggplant had just been safely (ahem) transplanted into the new bed when the first word of the blight arrived with the updated soggy forecast.

The peppers now will stay put in the greenhouse, where the moisture can be better controlled. The lower leaves of the tomatoes will be removed with each new advancing sign of blight; mulch has been applied in hopes of subduing the spores. And the eggplant, now swaggering in its own space, will be monitored for the first signs of the fungus that it likely won't escape.

Here's to extended sunshine soon. Here's to rain, more measured, being good for vegetables once again. Here's to faith being restored in Mr. Boswell's words.

— Colin McNickle

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