We had a hail storm last night that wiped out a good portion of my garden. These used to be tomato plants.The onions seemed to make it through. Not many blueberries left. The squash took a beating but is coming back. They're tough!
After mourning in a hot bathtub this morning, trying to soothe my soul, I came to the conclusion that as gardeners, we need a quick way to cover our gardens.These storms sometimes blow up quickly
or turn from rain to hail quickly, and we need to be ready. I needed a Plan of Action!
I know of gardeners who run out in the elements to cover precious seedlings with
tarps, row covers, sheets or shower curtains, whatever they have. I thought of this last night as we heard the rain turn to a great noise on our roof. I knew the tarp I bought would crush the plants without a way to hold it up over them. I didn't run out. I listened, hoping for the sound to quiet. Around 20 minutes later, it turned back to rain. The hail was about 1/2 " across. Not as big as I've seen here even 2 yrs ago. We had a mini flash flood on our patio. We watched as the rain washed the hail off the patio. I knew the plants were taking a beating. We rushed to get one of the cars in the garage. The plants would have to hold their own. Some will recover. I'll replant the rest.
After a little research I’ve discovered that Cheyenne, WY has more hail than anywhere in the US. We live 45 min south of there in Fort Collins, CO. Now I see why this is almost a yearly occurrence! Check out the hail map I found. Very helpful! http://www.livehailmap.com/
The Colorado websites are suggesting some sort of permanent frame with wire or netting hung from it. Hoop houses work well. Here’s a good website that can help. If you plan to throw anything on top of your plants you need to have some sort of framework in place to hold it up.
Today I rolled up the tarp and secured it at every grommet with cotton string. I did this inside, as it is wet and messy outside. (I have found cotton string to be very strong in the garden.) Here it is in front of the garden.
I secured it to the fence with a few 3”nails. Basically I rested the rolled tarp on top of the tomato cages.(Which are against the fence, but hard to see. I held one end up to the fence and put a nail through
the grommet hole into the fence post. The posts were matching the holes till I got to the last one. I confess I put a nail through a new tarp.
Here is the result. Nothing like a good hail storm to get me off my butt!
In a storm all I do is run out and either cut those strings or pull the string to untie the bow. (I know it seems girly but tying with a bow is very sturdy. They don’t come untied till I untie them.) Unroll the tarp and secure it to the ground with a few sticks (or tent stakes) through the grommet holes. All the rain and HAIL will run right off.
This only works if you have a fence or wall to attach it to. Granted, this doesn't cover the whole garden. I'll be working on that. Here's to a storm we can be happy about instead of worrying about the garden. It's not pretty but if it saves most of my garden, I don't care.
I feel better.