Monday, August 27, 2012

Hurricane Protection: Keeping Gardens Safe in the North

Here in the northern part of the U.S., we typically don’t get hurricanes; we get the leftovers. That usually means strong winds and heavy rains. Never the less, we should still protect our gardens when hurricane-like weather hits. There are two ways to protect your garden should strong winds and heavy rains sweep over your area.

Step 1: Cover Delicate Plants with Cloches and Plastic Covers

Whether it’s a prized flower or a delicate vegetable plant you’ve nurtured all summer long, cover it up. Retailers both local and online sell what are called garden cloches. These resemble clear domes in different sizes and are placed over plants.

Cloches protect garden plants from heavy rains, strong winds and falling debris. If you’re buying a set of cloches, make sure to get the right size. They come in small, medium and large.

If you’re a frugal gardener or on a budget like me, go ahead and make your own garden cloches. Use empty gallon-sized milk jugs, cut their bottoms off and slip over your plants for instant protection.

Retailers also sell plastic covers. These remind me of the bags used to protect dry-cleaning. If you’re opting for plastic covers, a more affordable solution, choose those that are reusable so they can be used next time a hurricane or its leftover strong winds and heavy rains hit.

Step 2: Stake, Cage and Tie Garden Plants

Stake, tie and cage those garden plants to offer them protection against strong winds; your tomato, green pepper and other top heavy plants and flowers will thank you. Secure trellises with additional stakes and ties. Place cages around small, delicate plants and stakes around those too large to slip a cage over.

Loosely tie the main plant stems to the stakes using garden twine or plant ties. (For strong winds associated with a hurricane, I’d opt for the twine.) Tying them loosely gives plants a little slack to sway in the wind causing less damage to the plant.

Strong winds and heavy rains can wreak havoc on your garden. Though these steps won’t stand up to the brute force of a hurricane, especially if you’re directly in its path, they go along way towards offering protection from the remnants we see here in the north.  

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