Hurricane coming! How to protect garden?

carol6ma_7ari(zones 6 & 7a)August 30, 2010

Hurricane Earl is waltzing up the Atlantic this week, due to pass by the Cape and Islands (incl coastal RI) Thurs. night and Fri. AM as a category 2. What ways do you recommend that I protect my shrubs & trees, save my vegs?How about container plants? Take down bird feeders? Salt water in the wind?

Carol

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nandina(8b)

Carol, The projected path of a hurricane is always 'iffy' until the last few hours. I well remember the 1938 hurricane and waking up the morning after to a bright blue sky and not a tree standing anywhere in sight. Also have been treated to three other hurricanes on one of the Islands which seem to withstand an attack fairly well although docks and boats get moved around and tree damage can be extensive. And two more down here in SC. If you are hit head on there is little you can do to protect inground gardens/shrubs/trees. Move all containers inside and remove bird feeders, benches, chairs, etc. into the garage. Lay statues, fountains on the ground. And if you live within two miles of the coast be aware that the tidal surge can roll inland that far. I have seen it. If that is your situation...evacuate early giving yourself plenty of lead time.

I don't have to tell you to stock up on food, fuel, medications if you decide to ride out the storm. Do it now. If the storm appears headed in your direction the stores will be sold out in a matter of hours. I have been there and seen it. Get dry ice in your freezer now.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 3:30PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

So far the forecasts say that the hurricane will only give us a "glancing blow" with winds less than hurricane force. Of course they also say that this may change at the last minute. Hurricane Earl is now category 4, but will supposedly drop to category 2 when it hits the colder waters and higher wind shear up north.

Nandina has covered the bases very well if the hurricane actually does hit us. I remember several hurricanes hitting here when I was a kid, and I remember my mother outside in the middle of the winds grabbing on to a young cherry tree to keep it from blowing away while my father got a rope and tied it to something. When you're a kid, hurricanes are fun - someone else gets to worry. Now I'm a worrier.

In general, anything that could be picked up by the wind will be and may cause damage to windows or whatever it hits. The wind will probably shift direction during the storm (particularly if the eye goes over you) so don't assume that something will remain sheltered.

I'm uncertain about staking - maybe nandina has some input. During the winter's fierce winds here my Ilex opacas often get bent over double. The two females (Goldie) recover fine, but I lost my male Jersey Knight in the wind last year. It just snapped off about 8 inches from the ground. I'm not sure whether to stake the two remaining hollies or to let them flex. I'm afraid that wind-swept branches may be damaged more by hitting the stake than by whipping freely.

Flashlights, one gallon of water per person per day, battery or cranked emergency radio, and plenty of brewed coffee in the refrigerator.

Also, I read somewhere that you should be in high gear when the eye is off the Carolinas. The storm is big and the leading edge is hundreds of miles from the eye.

Claire

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 6:02PM
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rockman50(6b SEMASS)

Yes...we probably won't know the full impact, if any, until the storm reaches the area just off the NC coast. Once in that position, hurricanes tend to accelerate northward, offering little time for preparation in New England. The worst case scenario would be for Earl to maintain cat 3 strength and follow a path up through RI, which would put Cape Cod and SE Mass on the dangerous eastern side of the eye where the strongest winds are located. That hasn't happened since Carol in 1954. Edna 10 days after Carol was a cat 3, but it moved over the Vineyard I believe. Bob cam ashore near Newport and then cut across SE Mass, but it was a marginal cat 2 or probably a 1 at the time. Right now, the official track is for the eye to pass S and E of Nantucket. BUT, and this is the big BUT (no pun intended), all of the model guidance has been shifting the track further and further west, closer to the coast, with each model run. That is a somewhat provocative trend. One model (an outlier for now) takes Earl as a CAT 3 hurricane right through the Cape Cod Canal. Yikes. That would be bad news. What happens will depend largely on how fast a cold front currently over the high plains moves east. If it slows down (which Matt Noyes just said has been happening all summer when these cold fronts try to advance into hot air and high pressure), it could mean more of a direct hit. I live in South Dartmouth. My area was one of the hardest hit regions from Bob. I still see the scars of that storm on my big old oaks and the woods are littered with fallen Hurricane Bob trees. I hope this does not happen again. Well, it will happen again of course, I just hope not this time!

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 6:56PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

"One model (an outlier for now) takes Earl as a CAT 3 hurricane right through the Cape Cod Canal. Yikes. That would be bad news."

Yikes indeed, rockman! I live about five miles north of the Canal and I'm visualizing boats flying through the air and landing on my garden. Not to mention what they'd do to the bridges and marina ....

Claire

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 8:39PM
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carol6ma_7ari(zones 6 & 7a)

Hurricane Bob happened just before we bought our weekend place (I suspect its water damage was the reason it was sold) and we heard from neighbors about the giant wave that came in, higher than the houses, and plunged down into the small brackish pond between our house and the shore. But we are a little uphill of the "500 year flood line" and the water surged diagonally SE of us and swept across the road into wetlands. It took out a couple of summer cottages (part of a trailer park) and we're still finding pieces of them in the pond. They were not allowed to rebuild (RI has a coastal mgmt. board that is quite strict NOW about building in flood plains) so instead those summerhouse owners now have trailers there. Which are removed in October. But if H. Earl is coming closer, all the trailers in that park will probably be towed out the day before the storm comes through.

Years ago we made hurricane panels out of plywood, to fasten across all the glass doors and windows on the ocean side, but used them only once. We think the fetch of the wind from the ocean could be a higher speed and more damaging than the winds from other directions, the speed of which would be broken up by the trees and other houses. So as we follow the progress of this storm, we might decide to drive down to our cottage and wrap it up. But not stay around for the storm! Dramatic though it might be.

As for the gardens (my original query), I don't know what we could do to protect them. My new potager has tall posts which are strong, and 7 ft. high gates on each end made out of trellis, which is vulnerable. Maybe I can secure them high and low with rope? And plan on a premature tomato harvest, lots of green ones.

Also, if we have time, we might do a little tree-pruning on the maple next to the cottage, so the roof doesn't get lashed by close branches. --oh, yes; we were moving the compost heap to a new location, and it should be covered with a tarp and big rocks. Oh dear, there's a lot to do!

Carol

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 9:49PM
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karencon

This is what happened in my front yard during the Nor'easter last week. I always thought I was a worry wart when I imagined a boat coming right into my house. Hmmmmm? Time to harvest the rest I guess.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 10:43PM
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rockman50(6b SEMASS)

nice boat!

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 7:45AM
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rockman50(6b SEMASS)

I moved to Falmouth MA the day after Hurricane Bob. That was big mistake! So many streets impassable with fallen trees, and no power. I remember walking down Surf Drive in Falmouth that day. All of the cottages along that road were mostly or completely destroyed. In fact, the road itself was separated from its bed by the storm surge,and moved into the marsh. I remember one small cottage that was sitting on its side in the middle of the road. I walked inside through a window. There was a refrigerator on its side, on the floor. I opened it. The only thing I saw was a bottle of gin and a few limes. They must have belted down and few stiff ones before fleeing. And then over the years, all of those cottages were re-built, bigger and better than ever. I still can't believe the state allowed that..so stupid.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 8:27AM
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rockman50(6b SEMASS)

One more Bob memory from Falmouth. I remember almost all of the trees were dessicated by the salt spray. It was a brown landscape. Then, later in fall, many trees including ornamentals like cherry and magnolia started to leaf out and bloom. The trees interpreted dessication caused by an August hurricane as "winter" and then interpreted the mild conditions in October and early November as "spring". I remember everybody asking, what will happen next spring? The answer: not much! It took some time for trees to get back on the normal clock.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 8:36AM
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carol6ma_7ari(zones 6 & 7a)

Rockman, I just found an article about salt spray damage. There's a list in Wyman's Gardening Encyclopedia under "Seashore Garden" that lists plants and trees that are not injured seriously by salt spray from a hurricane. It also says to wash off the salt right away with fresh water.

Carol

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 9:19AM
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diggingthedirt

Rockman, the town of Falmouth tried to prevent the cottages along Surf Drive from being rebuilt, but we couldn't afford the legal costs when the owners sued for property rights infringement.

Town meeting had overwhelmingly approved a resolution in support of the ban on rebuilding, but it just couldn't be enforced. Personally, I don't really mind those cottages up on stilts, they're kind of quaint in their own way, plus it gives my husband and me something to argue about when we walk the dog on Surf Drive; he wants to see them all washed away again.

My worst Bob memory is of all the bees. We spent many days chipping brush, and all sorts of bees were swarming around, and they were VERY angry. We ended up with a lot of firewood and mulch, but lost our kids' tree fort (and the awful maple that it was built in).

We're not ready for another storm like that - not yet.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 10:32PM
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rockman50(6b SEMASS)

Its funny you mentioned the bees (I think you probably meant to say wasps--yellow jackets). I remember that as well. I was stung helping my mom clean up her yard after the storm. They were very agitated. Earl is gonna come too close for comfort. Matt Noyes on NECN is now saying the eye will probably pass over Nantucket as a cat2.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 10:10PM
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