Tuesday 13 May 2014

Windy weather

Strong winds are to be expected in December / January, but May?? Last weekend we endured two complete days of sustained high winds, and my garden was severely unamused by it!

In the Winter the few plants in my garden are tough and either well-protected or securely strapped to strong stakes, but in May the garden is full of "soft" plants covered in lush new growth, and these are much more vulnerable to wind damage. One of the worst aspects of this for me is that my garden is right outside my Living-Room, and visible. I therefore have to endure the torture of watching the plants being battered - and in some cases destroyed - by the wind.

At this time of year, weather is at the top of the gardener's list of worries. It is still not too late for night-time frosts, and even in the absence of frost the temperatures can get pretty low. We had 0.8C just over a week ago. But day-time temperatures are often quite high. We have already had a couple of days when it has reached 21C. This means that the gardener has to make some educated guesses about what the weather is going to do (our official Weather Forecast is of limited value here!) and apply the necessary precautions.

Brussels Sprouts seedlings braving the wind

When I go out to work in the morning (often at about 0615), I try to predict what the weather that day is going to do, and make a few final adjustments if necessary, but of course most of it has to be done the evening before because I don't really want to be pfaffing about in the garden in my business attire at the crack of dawn! Jane (who is at home most days) sometimes helps me with these adjustments - for instance she will open the flaps on the mini-greenhouses or put a tray of seedlings into one of the mini-greenhouses, if I give her detailed instructions, but she is not a gardener and doesn't have the same feel for the subject as I do - which is only understandable since she has other interests and responsibilities. So, some chances have to be taken.

Delicate seedlings usually require protection from strong winds and heavy rain, but also from strong sun. Leaving a small plant in full sun (particularly inside a greenhouse) can be fatal. And it is surprising how quickly a small pot of compost can dry out. One of the reasons why I am successful in raising a decent amount of produce in my garden is that I am an "attention to detail" person, and I try very hard to give my "babies" a good level of protection / ventilation / irrigation. Plants are living entities and need constant care and appropriate conditions - much like human children do! Many inexperienced gardeners under-estimate this and expect great results without putting in the effort. 

Just recently my Longrow cloches have been put to use protecting trays of seedlings from heavy rain.

The one in the right background is acting as a wind-deflector for my newly-planted Runner Beans (who must be cursing their luck...)

When used like this their long legs raise them up several inches, allowing good ventilation at the same time as robust overhead protection.

The plastic mini-greenhouses are the mainstay of my protective measures. I love them for their flexibility of configuration - flaps open or closed; one shelf, two shelves or no shelves - but their lightness is also a problem. I generally weight them down with bricks, but last weekend one of them still took off in the wind, despite being so-called anchored with three bricks.

My pots of peas were bowled right over, so I have resorted to desperate measures...

As well as putting the brick in the pot, I also watered it very thoroughly to make it as heavy as possible! By the time you read this, the weather will probably have abated - I certainly hope so - and the forecast for the end of this week is for much warmer temperatures, so we shall have a different set of problems to contend with! Not that I'm complaining, you understand. I would dearly love to be able to put my new garden furniture into use for its intended purpose.


  1. You are doing a great job at protecting all those plants.One thing I rarely have to deal with here is wind but we do have some lovely thunderstorms.

  2. My worst weather is wind, it's so destructive. I don't mind admitting that it scares me to death when I'm laid in bed and I can hear everything getting a battering. Touch wood, my greenhouse has dealt with it fine since Mick replaced the polycarbonate.

  3. I know what wind is like. Since I've moved here I've had two microbursts on top of us - something I've never experienced before moving here. I build my bean towers pretty well, but I'm amazed the bamboo doesn't snap in those winds. And weirdly the plants often recover from their beatings. Though with a bit more artificial support than before. One of my peach trees and one of my apples trees seem to need permanent staking after the last one. I think all the roots on one side of those trees are all snapped. Hopefully they will fix themselves in time.

  4. Looks like a fine job sheltering the youngsters.

  5. Touch wood my plants seem to have come through the wind though that hasn't been as bad as it could be! I don't think my beans will thank me for planting them out this week, the rain has been incredibly heavy!

  6. As I'm reading this, the heaven's have opened and we're having a downpour and thunderstorm complete with lightening. Topical! Wind is a serious problem in Edinburgh, its easily the windiest city in Scotland. All my poor fruit bushes take a daily beating but I have them positioned against a fence so they can only really fall against it. Luckily its also the most sunny part of the garden so it works out. I think plants get used to it if its regular, so it doesn't worry me too much, but it looks like you've done a good job of protecting your crop in the more uncharacteristic winds for your area.

  7. It's a wonder we are not permanently a bag of nerves Mark! Wind is a nightmare at this time of year.


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