Friday, June 17, 2005
Something in the Wind
Talking 'Bout the Weather
The weather around here is making me edgy. All spring, we've had wind. Lots and lots of wind. It's been the kind of wind that usually portends a thunderstorm. The clouds darken, the air feels electric, and rain seems inevitable. And then the storm has passed without dropping a bit of water. While other parts of North America are getting too much rain, we haven't seen nearly enough. Our spring has been windy and dry, a tough combination for new plants.
While I was browsing the shelves of the local library, one book practically blew off the shelves into my hands. The Weather-Resilient Garden: A Defensive Approach to Planning and Landscaping by Charles W. G. Smith got to the heart of what's been worrying me this spring. The book turned out to be very detailed and informative. When I brought the book home with me from the library, I planned to just breeze through it over breakfast some morning. I expected the inevitable list of plants, plus some basic "Must Do" bullet points.
Instead, the book turned out to be an interesting read. I stormed through the book from cover to cover. The section "Really Bad Weather" included information about dealing with cold, ice, fire, hail, drought, heat, humidity, flood, lightening, and salt in the garden. Each section included examples of gardens that coped well with these weather hazards, as well as examples of gardens that faced the weather front totally unprepared. To date, I'd say my garden falls in the later catagory--totally unprepared.
In the chapter on wind, Smith explains that at some point, wind levels reach a strength that no amount of planning and preparation can overcome. But even moderate levels of wind can cause stress and damage in the garden. He outlines what makes a good wind break, plus he mentions some ideas I hadn't considered, like wind berms, pruning trees and shrubs properly so they are able to withstand a storm, and making use of existing structures to protect plants from wind.
After reading the book, I'm rethinking my plan for the backyard to include some sort of windbreak. This is challenging because I have a slope in the backyard that faces into the wind. Maybe a raspberry hedge could serve as a windbreak for the veggie garden. This year's veggies have taken quite a beating with all this wind.
Reading about the weather reminded me there was a rain gauge stored in a closet somewhere around the house. After a bit of scavenging, I found the rain gauge and figured out how to assemble all the little plastic pieces. Turns out, the device includes a thermometer and a couple of spinning arrows, one that shows how hard the wind is blowing, and one to point out which direction. It looks impressively high tech for a small square-foot garden. Sadly...the rain gauge is quite empty...