Avoiding Hail Damage

laura_42(4b-5a Colorado)April 13, 2009

I know it's a bit early for this topic, but have any of you found an effective strategy to protect your veggie gardens from the hailstorms that are so common to our region?

I'm thinking of putting up a protective mesh barrier of sorts over my 4 x 4ft beds, but don't know how practical this would be once the plants grow higher.

Any thoughts/suggestions?

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plantladyco

I have "hail cages" over my tender veggies (squash, cukes, peppers)
They are wire mesh in a frame, with legs.
You can make them tall enough to allow for growth.
As for tomatoes...
I grow them in cages and the just throw wire over the top of the cages.
Works great.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 11:15AM
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laura_42(4b-5a Colorado)

Plantladyco -- What size mesh do you use, and what do you use for the "legs"? Also, does the mesh go around the sides, or just over the top?

Keeping a wary eye on the sky,

Laura :)

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 4:35PM
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dafygardennut(5b-ish, CO)

I just cover anything tender with old sheets I picked up at the thrift store :-)

Jen

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 8:48PM
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greenbean08_gw(PNW)

I use sheer curtains over the hoops of my raised beds. I can slide the fabric to the side or clip it to the top if a storm is coming. It didn't seem to hurt anything when I left it up for several days (while we were camping). From Tales of a Transplanted Gardener From Tales of a Transplanted Gardener

We didn't have any severe hail here last summer, so it's only been tested with minor hail.

I like the wire idea too.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 12:04AM
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plantladyco

The legs are wood.
The wire has a name which I can't remember, but it is very stiff with openings about 1/4 inch. Only covers top.
Sheets will work, but you have to be home when it hails!
Curtains will shred in a real hailstorm.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 11:57AM
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greenbean08_gw(PNW)

Are there some veggies that can survive hailstorms? Might look a little rough for a while, then come back? or are they pretty well all toast? I'm wondering if there are some I should concentrate on protecting more than others.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 12:55PM
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msfuzz

I think Plantlady is talking about "hardware cloth." :)

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 9:43PM
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jaliranchr(z5 EC CO)

Greenbean, you'd be surprised what a lot a of veggies will take in a hailstorm and survive. I've nursed zukes and peppers and tomatoes back to health. Lost a few, sure, but most survive. The Anna Russian below could have been considered a total loss the day after the hail. It produced strongly later in the summer.

This Thessaloniki was a monster by July after the late May hail. Just depends. I only lost a few plants in this early storm.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 10:15PM
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david52_gw

Was it this forum, 6 or 7 years ago, where someone along the Front Range had their garden destroyed just once too often, and had built some huge, welded steel structure to protect the whole thing?

    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 9:30AM
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plantladyco

Yes...hardware cloth. Thanks for naming it.
I only cover the stuff that seems to suffer the most from hail...tomatoes,peppers,squash,cukes,basil.
Yes, tomatoes will come back, but it really slows them down in an already short growing season.
What i don't cover....peas,beans,greens,carrots,garlic.
I'd cover it all if I didn't have a large garden.
Started using the cages after a Summer with 3 serious hail storms.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 10:51AM
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laura_42(4b-5a Colorado)

David -- I don't know if it was this forum, but I'm thinking that given how often we get hail up here, a huge welded steel structure might not be such a bad idea! *grin*

    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 11:38AM
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plantladyco

Laura...about your opening comment about it being early for the topic...
Wrong!
It hailed here (Colo Spgs) yesterday :)

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 11:53AM
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laura_42(4b-5a Colorado)

Plantladyco -- You're right! It wasn't too early of a topic. We also got a bit of hail up here yesterday, but it was the soft slushy kind, known as "graupel".

Before the current storm arrived, I protected my transplants by putting up low hoops made from wire coat hangers and then two layers of floating row cover and plastic poultry netting over that. That way, the plants are still able to get moisture, but are out of the howling wind.

For the hard summer hail, I'm now planning to attach some 1/4 inch hardware cloth mesh onto the notched metal poles they use for supporting young trees. That way, I can raise the height of the mesh as the plants grow. We'll see how it goes...

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 4:14PM
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