Have you noticed how windy it has been lately? I’m not sure about other parts of the country, but this is very typical of weather in October and November in Auckland. There can also be storms in summertime. Wind is a natural element that is beyond our control. It can be brutal and destroy plants in the garden. However, there are a few things you can do to mitigate damage. Here are some suggestions.
· Remove the lower leaves of seedlings and try to plant deeply below ground level. The stem will send out more roots which will anchor the plant firmly into the ground.
· Plant corn in blocks rather than rows which will help the plants to support each other. This is also advisable to ensure that all the kernels are pollinated, as corn is pollinated by the wind
· Put sensitive plants such as tamarillos in a sheltered location. Low growing veggies like lettuce and creepers such as melons, pumpkins, cucumbers and zucchini are generally fine in more exposed areas
· If you’re using black plastic for growing melons and other veggies, I suggest placing some potted plants around the edges to prevent it from flying away
· Make good use of any walls, fences and even the house, which all provide shelter for plants
· Consider building a shelter belt around your garden. This can take many forms and sizes. My friend Leah runs the holiday park at Tauranga Bay, where our bach is situated. Her husband built her a cute black shelter belt made from cloth around her little veggie patch at the back of their house as they get quite a bit of wind being so close to the sea. This also functions to keep rabbits and other pests out of the garden
· You can build a shelter belt made of cloth and sticks around individual plants to protect them
· Stake plants securely (ideally at the time of planting to avoid damaging the roots later on) and keep fastening them to the stake as they grow. Make sure you drive stakes deeply into the ground to prevent them from toppling over. Examples of plants which benefit from staking include broad beans, sunflowers, tomatoes, swan plants, dahlias, gladioli and Christmas lilies
· Use wooden stakes for fruit trees and roses as they’re much stronger than plastic stakes. Use old stockings instead of string to tie plants to the stakes. For fruit trees and roses, I normally place one stake on either side of the plant for more security
· Don’t forget that planting at Labour Weekend is just a general guideline, so use common sense! Sometimes it can be really windy. If this is the case, it might pay to wait until the bad weather has passed before putting plants in so they don’t take a hammering
· Accept you’ll lose some plants to the wind along the way. It might pay to put in a few more just to cover yourself
· If you do lose a branch off a tree due to the wind, it isn’t necessarily the end of the world. Our Feijoa “Unique” tree bounced back after losing a main branch to wind two years ago, much to my surprise
Please do feel free to add anything I may have missed as I’m sure you have some really good ideas.
NB: the picture is of our corn seedlings, which have started to germinate on the heat pad.