We think that pests in the garden are the destroyers of our precious veggies, and they certainly can be. But, worse than a pest is a rain storm in a garden that is not prepared. With hurricane season quickly reaching its peak, now is the time to get our gardens storm ready. Here’s how to do it.
Pick! Pick! Pick!
The first thing that you must do before a storm is pick as much as you can. Picking ahead of a storm has two benefits. But first you must understand why we pick before a rain instead of after. It is because excess water is not good for veggies. When the garden is used to a certain amount of water each day, that is what it wants. When an excessive amount of rain is dumped in the garden, the roots will continue soaking it up, and the vegetables, in turn, will grow in size. While this may sound like a good deal at first, it really isn’t. Vegetables that grow in size because of water generally lack flavor and they will crack and split on the sides. Neither is appealing.
Picking before the storm is beneficial because it allows the veggies to continue ripening in a sunny window inside where conditions are more stable, and it lightens the load on those tender branches. As the rains beat down, and the fruit gets larger, the branches are forced to carry more weight. The more weight they carry, especially all of the sudden, the more chance that the branch will break. When you pick before the storm, you are guaranteed to have vegetables after the storm.
What To Pick
- Tomatoes that are starting to turn (don’t pick green tomatoes)
- Peppers that are the correct size, but need a few more days to soften
- Squash and Zucchini that are a little smaller than normal, but still ripe
- Cucumbers that are a little smaller than you’d like but still ready
- Give herbs a good haircut before the rain
- All cutting flowers that have bloomed and could be beaten down by the rain
Stake and Secure Plants
As the wind and rains pick up, already leggy plants can easily be blown over or pounded by the rain. This is not ideal because it is really difficult to get them to stand back up after a rain without breaking branches. The last thing a gardener wants at this point in the season is a broken branch with three or four almost ripe tomatoes on it.
Stake and secure plants even more than they already are. Overstaking is not a bad idea before a storm. Anything you can do to keep the branches from breaking in the wind and rain will be time well spent. And if you end up with a few branches that fall or end up laying down on the ground after the storm, it is probably best to just leave them for the remainder of the season. Broken branches cannot be mended, so take extreme precautions when moving them this time of the year.
Bring In All of The Garden Charm
When a storm is rolling in, do in the garden as you would on the patio. Bring in all bird feeders, bird baths, wind chimes. tables, chairs, and any other garden decorations you have to keep them safe. This is important because most likely, these accessories are items that you love. You have put them out in your happy place, so you want to keep enjoying them after the rain is over. My garden gnomes are especially important to me. While they don’t have much risk to be left out, I pack them up every time because if something happened to them, I would be heartbroken. They were my grandmother’s, and I got the entire set when she died. Going to the garden and seeing them is like going out to her backyard, where I spent so much of my childhood. I don’t want anything to happen to my gnomes, so I pick them up before a bad storm.
Hold Off On Watering
It seems a bit unnecessary to mention, but if we are about to get a lot of rain, hold off on watering. If plants are already saturated when the rains come, it will be even worse on them. Plants and veggies love consistency. Hold off on watering and let the storm do the job for you.
If you need to feed, do it right before the storm and let the rain water it in for you. This is one of the easiest ways to protect your garden in a storm.
Doing these simple things will ensure your veggies are taken care of when the storms come. A little bit of prep work ahead of time is time well spent before the rain.
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