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Covering plants during rainstorms

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Covering plants during rainstorms

Post  mwebb on 5/25/2011, 8:56 am

I'm new to square foot gardening (and gardening in general, for that matter!). It's supposed to be one nasty day here in Chicago with thunderstorms and rain all day. I have my tomato plants covered by plastic milk jugs at night when it cools down. Is it best to leave them covered with all this rain? It's supposed to warm up today, so not sure if it's best to keep them covered or let them fend for themselves.

Thanks!

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Re: Covering plants during rainstorms

Post  Tbites on 5/25/2011, 9:51 am

I have the same situation as you but with nothing but rain, rain , rain for the next week. I hope the more experienced folk will chime in here since I've been wondering the same thing.

Tbites

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Hopefully mwebb you won't mind the bump

Post  Tbites on 5/25/2011, 6:43 pm

I see there's been no answer , for what it's worth I'm covering mine tonight and it looks like they'll have to stay covered for the week. I'll puncture a few holes in the plastic so hopefully the plants won't suffocate. I'm basing this on this
post by quiltbea (who seems to grow quite a bit)

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Re: Covering plants during rainstorms

Post  Furbalsmom on 5/25/2011, 10:46 pm

In the PNW, many people still have their gardens covered at all times. This is both because we are still having cool weather, mid 40's here along the coast at night and because we have lots of rain in some areas. At our community garden over half of the beds are covered with hoops and plastic, but all have the top well vented at each end. (at least 1/4 of each end is open)

Since I am not in your area, I can't say what is better, but if you use milk jugs and don't take them off during the day, the concern is they may get too warm.

Sorry, I know this is really not a helpful answer, just letting you know what many people do out here.

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Re: Covering plants during rainstorms

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 5/25/2011, 11:38 pm

Welcome aboard!! Glad you found us and introduced yourself.

All this rain is making us crazy. But, my approach is completely different. I figure God made plants before we knew what do do with them. They have handled worse events before humans came a long to baby them. Mel's Mix drains well, and they tend to stand back up after being knocked down by rain. Hail is another story.

I only cover my plants when it gets cold. I let it rain like crazy on them, if that's the hand I'm dealt. I have nothing but healthy plants so far to show for it. I think we tend to put too much pressure on ourselves and tend to micromanage things in our gardens. Passion is a good thing, but too much of anything will drive us nuts.

Post some pictures when the plants get bigger. We would love to see them. Also, check out the regional forums. We are a friendly bunch in there, too.

Great to have you around. Hope to see you soon.

BackyardBirdGardner

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Re: Covering plants during rainstorms

Post  mwebb on 5/28/2011, 10:06 am

Thanks for the advice! They seemed to have fared well so far, just covering them during the worst of it. Thankfully the hail never arrived. We've been lucky compared to much of the country recently.

I'll definitely post pictures as things progress! We were excited to see some red radish popping out of the soil yesterday. Now if only my lettuces were doing so well...

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I agree with backyardbirdgardner

Post  busygirl on 5/30/2011, 11:11 am

I agree with backyardbirdgardner. My tomatoes and peppers went in my boxes on May 15 (last frost day for my area) and have been out in rain, windstorms, and everything that has come through since then with no ill effects. edited to add that my boxes are on an exposed hilltop with full southern exposure and sun from mid morning on).

All of my plants are heirlooms that I started myself from seed (which may mean they are naturally hardier than hybrid plants purchased already started), and the ONLY concession I have made for them this season was providing a partial wind break for them when I put them out to harden on April 30. Honestly, I didn't even work them up to the hardening. The temperature fluctuations between high and low weren't that great and the constant cloud cover we have had meant no shock from the sun, so I put them out on the deck mid morning one Saturday and left them for two weeks until I put them in the boxes. Obviously I checked them and would have intervened if they had developed problems, but they never missed a beat. They didn't even wilt or show any other signs of stress when I transplanted them. I took Mel's advice and transplanted them semi-horizontally, burying the stem right up to the leaves. They "look" much shorter than the plants available already started, but I know what is underneath and they are just as full in foliage as anything I have seen in the stores.

I am new to SFG this year, and actually think the the extreme amount of
rain we have had this spring has helped saturate my Mel's Mix properly
since I probably didn't do that correctly when I put my boxes in. Everyone I know is jealous that I already have everything in the ground when they haven't even been able to till yet. The "no tiller required" aspect of SFG and Mel's mix was a huge selling point in my decision to start, and it has definitely paid off with the weather this spring. I am already begging people to take lettuce, basil, parsley, and radishes.

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Re: Covering plants during rainstorms

Post  jbh29 on 5/30/2011, 2:29 pm

I like the idea of plants making it on their own. That really is what they are made for.

But I must admit, I've really enjoyed the hoop houses I built over my beds this spring. Origionally built for frost protection, but I've kept them covered (with ends wide open) when there have been storms that run through, I cover every night - for cool temps, as well as unknown storms that blast through. But today, for example, I've uncovered all my beds and they got a full morning of marvelous rain. I will cover them this evening and I know they won't need water again for a while, so with the cover on, they won't get drenched.

Last spring I didn't have covers and we had a long wet spring. Things were really slow to start. This spring with my covers I've seen a marked improovement in my growth progress.

I am only in my second year of sfg, so I wouldn't be suprised at all if my thoughts change next spring what with all the new things that are learned and applied! :drunken:

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Re: Covering plants during rainstorms

Post  busygirl on 5/30/2011, 2:54 pm

@jbh29 wrote:I like the idea of plants making it on their own. That really is what they are made for.

But I must admit, I've really enjoyed the hoop houses I built over my beds this spring. Origionally built for frost protection, but I've kept them covered (with ends wide open) when there have been storms that run through, I cover every night - for cool temps, as well as unknown storms that blast through. But today, for example, I've uncovered all my beds and they got a full morning of marvelous rain. I will cover them this evening and I know they won't need water again for a while, so with the cover on, they won't get drenched.

Last spring I didn't have covers and we had a long wet spring. Things were really slow to start. This spring with my covers I've seen a marked improovement in my growth progress.
.
I am only in my second year of sfg, so I wouldn't be suprised at all if my thoughts change next spring what with all the new things that are learned and applied! :drunken:


JBH, if you didn't use hoops last year and did this year, it looks like I am right on schedule since this is my first year of SFG! Cool

I agree that we always learn things and so much depends on the weather. One other factor in my "make it on their own" philosophy at this point is that trying to make hoop houses or gather materials to cover everything would have stretched my budget since I have already put out all of the start up costs for SFG this year (not a lot of budge in my budget at present). Without that cost next spring, I would love to try some of the pvc based designs Mel mentions or some cold frames. I really don't have that much room in my house for seedlings and ended up having them on every single naturally lit horizontal surface in my home this year. If I could move some of that stuff outside earlier or even start it outside next year, that would be AMAZING and I would be stupidly excited over the possibility.

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Re: Covering plants during rainstorms

Post  jbh29 on 5/30/2011, 3:33 pm

Yup. First year there is a ton to buy and set up, especially with making several beds. I know I had read about covers in the book last year, but I was up to my eyeballs with the set up and I didn't even consider needing to cover.

I think that from now on when I set up a veggie bed I will consider a hoop house as part of set up. I don't think I'd do it for the strawberries we're putting in soon.

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Re: Covering plants during rainstorms

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