time-sensitive: hail, strong storms tomorrow--what to do?

ilovecucumbersJune 17, 2014

Hi everyone,

I'm in NE PA, and that's the forecast. About 3 weeks ago, 50 mph winds nearly ripped my peas out at the roots. My maters, peppers and eggplants were still small enough to cover with pots. Was fortunate to escape the hail that resulted in MAJOR damage to homes, cars, and vegetation.

I've got tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, corn (still small), taters, cukes, beets, and blackberry bushes. Can I wrap the maters in plastic or blankets? Throw tarps over entire beds, until the worst is over?

Is there anything I can do to protect my vegetable garden? The storm is supposed to hit tomorrow afternoon, so I still have time to plan.

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Most anything you can do to protect the plants will do less damage than a hail storm will. But whatever you use should be stiff and windproof and/or propped up in some fashion. A blanket or sheet just laid on the plants and then hit with hail only spreads out the damage even worse.


    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 4:18PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

How about milk crates turned upside down over the plants with a brick on top? Or even a large pot turned upside down if it will fit over the plant, with a brick on top.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 4:22PM
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Thanks very much! I plan to do that with the smaller plants--I can still do this with cukes, peppers, and even the eggplant (which, to my utter amazement, has taken off). But what about the Brandywine maters and the potatoes? I guess carefully wrapping tarps around them would work.

Another question (sorry). Of course, I don't know when the storms will hit. If I wrap the tall plants in a tarp, how long can they last this way? It's not like I can wrap the tarp in 30 seconds, and I've no one to help me. Can I try to gauge the storm, and do it like an hour ahead?

You guys are gold. I'm so glad I found this forum. Thanks very, very much for your expertise.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 4:30PM
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If it is not too late yet... Run to home depot, buy several 1/2 inch 10' long plastic pipes (white in plumbing department or grey in electric.) You need a pipe for every 3 feet of your bed. You can bend the pipes and stick them in the ground , to make it more stable, you can have one pipe to connect all pipes you stick in the ground like a ridge. Be creative. I usually use cable ties to connect the pipes. When frame is done, connect tarp to it. It is better if it goes to the ground - it will not fly that much this way. Also, just came to my mind - use cardboard boxes, Cover part of the bed with it , place a board and a rock on top to prevent flying, then cover next spot. Good luck!

This post was edited by galinas on Tue, Jun 17, 14 at 21:53

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 9:42PM
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Do it now or first thing tomorrow morning. No need to time the storm. The plants will be fine underneath a tarp for 24 hours. The important thing - as others have noted - is to support and elevate the tarp so rain rolls off and hail bounces off. If there is even a slight sag, rain will pool in low spots, collapse it and make things worse.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 11:14PM
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You folks are wonderful. Thanks so much. I'll keep you posted on what transpires.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 11:49PM
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Besides milk crates, plastic garden chairs and upside down laundry baskets ... all with something heavy weighing them down ... work pretty good too.

Be sure to take a picture for your memory album of this years garden.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 1:10AM
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Well, I prepared--buckets over peppers, eggplant, watermelon, tarps over strawberry bed. Could not figure out how to drape the tarps over my maters. Am making those hoops this weekend.

The hail never came, thank goodness. Nor wind, nor rain.

It's hot as blazes here--3rd day at 90 degrees. Having to water my raised beds every day and feeling very guilty about it.

But my veggies lived to see another day.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 8:05PM
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I was victim of that hail storm a few weeks back. It only shredded my pepper and eggplant leaves. They all survived. The shredded leaves are still there, but they grew new ones and everything is doing well. My squash/zucchini/cucumbers were not so lucky. Because the vines were exposed, the hail sliced the vines. I had two surviving squash out of six and two out of four cucumbers. I just started over (in pots). I'm better off. By the time my new plants are ready to go in the ground, the borer moths may be gone for the season.
I lost one tomato plant too, completely decapitated! Fingers crossed for no more hail!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 8:57PM
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My garden survived the hail but my wife's car wasn't so lucky, She was getting ready to leave work just as the storm came and her car got hit, Windshield smashed and dents, Insurance totaled it, Still waiting to get paid.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 9:07PM
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