Why Thunderstorms and Lightning are good for the garden.
This summer has been extraordinary in the garden, it is lushest and greenest I have ever seen it in mid-summer.
I usually spend January trying to supplementary irrigating everything because it is so hot and dry.
Not this year. I cannot seem to keep the lawn under control or keep up with the pruning and hedge trimming. The reason is not only because of all the rain we have been getting, but because the rain has come in the form of thunderstorms.
Thunderstorms result in lightning and although lightning is associated with extreme weather, as long as nobody gets hit or a fire isn’t started, lightning is advantageous for the garden.
Have you ever wondered why the garden looks so green after a thunderstorm?
It is because the chemistry happening in the air above us.
As you are probably aware, about 79% of our atmosphere is nitrogen, but not in a form that plants can absorb or take up. This is where lightning can make a difference. The energy created during a lightning event can convert atmospheric nitrogen and oxygen into nitric oxide (NO) which then oxides into nitrogen dioxide(NO2) then to nitric acid (HNO3) which is then deposited onto the earth’s surface in the ensuing rain, hail ( or snow in colder climates) and in a form that can be taken up by plant.
So to simplify that statement.
Nitrogen in the atmosphere is not available for plants to absorb; the energy caused by lightning converts it into a form that can be absorbed by plants.
The ensuing rain has very little other nutrients in it so the ratio of nitrogen in the rain is high which encourages leafy growth and promotes good leaf colour.
So a thunderstorm is effectively a giant liquid fertilising event that not only provides your garden with plenty of water but also with loads of nitrogen that encouraged leafy growth on plants.
It is estimated that worldwide something like 9.4 million tonnes of nitrogen is converted into an available form and deposited on the earth every year.
Now, one or two thunder storms a summer doesn’t make much of a difference, but when they are occurring every day for weeks on end then the result is a lush green garden.
So whilst they may be frightening and often accompanied but heavy rain and lots of humidity, the old thunder storm is the gardener’s friend.
So sit back and enjoy them and think of all the money and work you are saving not having to fertilise your garden.
Mother nature is doing it for you.
Happy Gardening Kathy