Q#131: How do you protect a food garden from a hurricane?

This popped into my head when a storm rolled in pretty hard and violently around 4:30 this morning. I laid there, thinking it was gonna be bad for a little bit, but got worse and worse. I’d just set out the last of my seeds and trays in the seed greenhouses last night before coming in, and I couldn’t help envisioning those short, squat, plastic and poly greenhouses flying off as they have a few times before.

I finally got up just before 5 and looked out. They were still there. I’m guessing the concrete blocks I’d set up nearby (as the borders of my first new raised garden bed) served as a windbreak.

Boy, I felt so much better, but it was so damned loud and that wind was pretty intense, it got me thinking:

Let’s say I’ve got good crops growing, plenty of fruits and veggies (especially climbers like beans, corn, sunflowers): how the hell do I protect all that during a bad storm or a hurricane?

Considering how much rain fell last night and now hard, that’s worrying me the most. Sure, the wind is intense during a hurricane much of the time. At least, it felt that way during Rita at times, then Ike later. Harvey was another animal, and made me wonder: how do I prevent all my plants from being waterlogged to hell and back, AND protect against the wind.

What Makes Hurricane Harvey So Potentially Deadly

Oh, Harvey, you lousy bastard… impressive, but what a crappy time. (from National Geographic)

Now, I’m lucky in the sense that my 11th hour inspiration on where to put my raised beds (and fence them in) was on a spot with good drainage already. My yard’s in one of the highest spots in this part of the county, as proved when Hurricane Harvey came through. As soon as the rains took a break, the yard began to drain. And I’ve got my beds I’m building on a formerly carport covered strip of asphalt over rock that’s about 12 x 24 feet. There won’t be any photos of water a foot deep in my yard, that’s for sure. And with the runoff on asphalt, no standing water on that thing, too.

Harvey’s winds weren’t so bad compared to other storms. It was that damned rain. Days and days and inches and inches of rain. I can just see it now, all those beds waterlogged and totally soaked, or spilling over and all the good soil floating off. Or all the seeds and plants rotting and dying because it’s too much (and then baking to death in the sun in the few days after).

My first remembered experience of an actual hurricane was Rita, and boy, that heat was miserable in 2005. I never thought anything could get that bad again. At least Ike in 2008 had some overcast and the sun wasn’t baking everything. (good for me–I got struck down by the flu just a few days before landfall and was sick the whole time. I might’ve ended up in the hospital if the air quality was as bad as post-Rita. That felt like you were breathing through a sponge all week).

But this got me thinking, because I want to be prepared. I’m making a list of contingency plans for all the beds and places in the yard. I need to see if I’ve gotta invest in more structural supports, or if there are covering tricks that will work for me.

So far, for smaller stuff, if it’s a downpour that’s expected that’s gonna hurt the plants, or high winds, covering with old planters or something is a reasonable idea. I’ve got some long skinny windowsill planters that would probably work to cover up rows of seedlings or herbs. A few bigger planters would work to protect other individual plants.

The tough part would be trying to protect a much taller and longer space. I’ve got one bed where all my taller plants will go: corn, pole beans, sunflowers, pretty much anything that climbs. That’s the one I’m gonna have a doozy of a time with, unless I can get some help with plastic on the fence to protect against wind and over the pole while dipping down again. Anchoring it would be the “fun” part.

On the other hand, a big heavy tarp would bring down the beans, which are gonna be propped up with bamboo stakes tied together with a stake across the top to hold the structure up. And what would that do to the corn, which will grow even higher than those stakes will?

I’m guessing I’ll have to build some kind of emergency frame to put over the whole shebang. Or, get a friend to help me drill holes in the carport a few feet away to make kind of a “lean to” with tarps. Really tall stakes at the farther side of the raised bed that I can lower the tarp onto and then tie it down to the stakes (or stakes connected to the bed so the wind doesn’t tear the relief ones out of the ground.

Cochiti Pueblo (rareseeds.com)

Hopi Turquoise (rareseeds.com)

I’ve got some great corn seeds and I can’t wait to plant them and have homegrown corn. I’m sick of generic, frozen or canned sweet corn and the yellow corn just is bland as all hell. I’ve got some cool types from an heirloom seeds site that I’m eager to try. And I like corn… just stinks that we only seem to have two different varieties at most in the store (yellow or white) in the fresh section.

So, I’ll keep reading and trying to dig up some info. Are there any other gardeners (food, flowers, etc) who’ve had to combat this and have it work out? Or things you tried that flat out didn’t work?

But seriously, how do you protect your plants from something like a hurricane?

Floor’s yours… just wondering if you’ve got great tools or resources that helped you out (or certain materials that worked best with what you had). I don’t have any actual greenhouses or outbuildings right now for gardening, so I’m trying to figure what works best or that I should add to my list.

Any help would be great…

One thought on “Q#131: How do you protect a food garden from a hurricane?

  1. Scottie says:

    Hello thechattyintrovert. I knew a Doctor gardener, yes he had a phd in horticulture. He was my mail man in West Palm Beach. He also did raised beds in his back yard, but he did all his in pots so they could be removed if they went bad or put safety away should a storm threaten. He built the structure so the pots sat flush so no one realized the plants were in pots. He did his in a ground level with a fake front, then the next three levels all had fake fronts so it looked like a raised tier garden. Yes he had tall plants including peas, beans, and corn all on the bottom ground level. I am glad you enjoy gardening. I love flowers in pots but never could get into in ground flower beds or vegetable gardens. Too much weeding for me. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

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