High wind help......

gardenerwannabe6May 22, 2008

I've read through some of the earlier posts about staking, caging, CRW, Texas cages, etc.... A few months ago I would've told you there were only a few different types of tomatoes and that a Texas cage was probably something for a criminal. :)

We're new to gardening, but along with our 5 boys, ages 3-13, we have put in a very large garden. We're hoping to sell at the farmer's market and provide good learning for the boys along the way. And hopefully, a little money for them as well...

They've worked very hard - researched tomatoes, built 8 raised beds 50' long, hauled dirt, put up fence around it to keep deer and other critters out, etc... We have put 200, yes, 200 tomato plants in the ground. We were planning on doing the florida weave to support them. However, we've learned that being out on the plains with no trees brings winds we didn't experience in the city - 30 mph plus over several days with a day or so of relative calm, then the winds come again. This will continue through June. We put up fence and put up plastic around the lower 4 feet, but the wind keeps ripping that out as well as the extra chicken wire put on top of it to help keep it secure. Obviously a tree windbreak wouldn't help immediately, so we're kind of out of ideas.

Anyone experience extreme winds over a longer period of time? How does that affect the plants long term? We got them through the first wind week and they had a healthy rebound, but I'm not sure about long term.... They're not looking so good again. What do you do about windburn? Can continual wind kill them??

I truly appreciate any input on this as we've been working on this garden for almost months, non-stop it seems and running out of energy and ideas. Thanks so much in advance....

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I'm in extreme SW KS and have gardened in this area including the Texas Panhandle and NE NM for 40 plus years. Yes it is bare here with lots of hot dry SW winds. Yes you can raise great tomatoes here. Some of the practices I've learned is on caged plants plant 2 rows of sweet corn on the immediate south side of them. And that sprawlers will do better and raise more tomatoes than caged plants. Also mulching heavy helps. I'm going to try some of the plastic snow fence this year with maybe some shade cloth attached to give a windbreak to the caged plants. Trying to find something that will work and not take up garden room like sweet corn. I harden my plants to the wind just like most do to the sun. I use a cold frame for some and trees and the side of the house for protection for others as they get adapted to the wind. We have had several days of 30-35 mph winds with gusts to 50 and most are now looking fine. I'm setting them out now. Some are getting plastic buckets and some are having to tough it. Would gladly share emails with you if you wish to hear anymore ideas or share thoughts. JD

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 7:18PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Some excellent suggestions from elkwc above and I agree that yes, it is possible to have success in high windy areas (mine are channeled straight out of the west off the lake), but it does take some extra work and planning upfront.

As mentioned, whatever you choose to do as a wind break needs to be somewhat ventilated so some gets through and doesn't tear the break up - solid plastic won't last as you have discovered. I have a strip of chain link fence across the west end about 6' out from the one garden with thin wood slats woven through every other set of the links. Cuts the wind in half and has lasted for years. A strip of widely slatted wood fence should also work.

Staked or CRW cages that are staked will stand up to winds much better than Florida weave if sprawl growing doesn't appeal to you. And a fair amount of leaf branch pruning will also help reduce the wind whip and damage.

One other suggestion since you plan to sell is to join your local Farmer's Market association or co-op and get to know the nearby growers so to learn tips and tricks from them.

Good luck with your plans and your plants.


    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 9:52AM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

And as mentioned above, but kind of buried, you can always let the plants sprawl and that avoids the drying out that the winds can cause as well as any physical damage.

It also avoids one heck of a lot of work with cages, trellis, staking and whatever.

But you have to have the room do to it as I did for many years when I grew about 500 to 700 tomato plants each season.

And yes, I've caged tomatoes as well and can compare that with sprawled ones.


    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 12:50PM
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