Cor, it’s windy out there.
Well, windy for this softy part of the island. After tweeting that so far, the strongest gust we’d had in Burnham-on-Crouch was 36mph, I was quickly told from Cumbria ‘…that’s not even a breeze.’ 🙂
So, in summary, it’s a bit blowy for Essex. There probably aren’t any sheds down at the plots, but I do worry about my veg when things get gusty.
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much you can do in a rush to protect plants from the wind. As with much of allotmenteering, you’re at the mercy of the weather and often it is a case of waiting and hoping, but there are a few things you can do to give your veg a hand.
Staking and Dwarf Varieties
Staking tall plants, like Brussel sprouts, can help if the stalks are long and thin. Mounding the soil up around the bottom of the plant will also add strength.
Planting close together allows plants to support each other too. This works really well for delicate French beans, as well as broad beans. If you plant in blocks, then you can stake each corner and tie string from stake to stake, adding extra support.
If you live in a windy part of the country and are worried about the impact on your plot, planning ahead is the best bet. I like growing dwarf varieties of some veg, such as kale and French beans. These grow much closer to the ground, rather than on long stalks, meaning they’re far less susceptible to windy conditions.
Of course, an excellent way of protecting your crops is to add windbreaks. However, the interesting thing about this is air circulation. I’ve seen solid breaks put up at our allotments using sheets of old corrugated iron, but a solid barrier can increase wind damage. This is due to the wind going up and over the top, which creates strong vortexes and swirls.
Any barrier needs to be penetrable by the wind so that the gust is weakened. Windbreaks made from materials such as willow or hazel will do the trick and can be erected easily. They’re expensive to buy though. I was pretty surprised by the cost when I looked at screening out my new garden workshop using these.
The most attractive and cheapest way of producing a windbreak is to grow a hedge. Merv, a nearby plotholder has a beautiful ribes hedge along one side of his plot. He grew it from cuttings over a couple of seasons and now he maintains the hedge at about 5 foot high, giving Merv year round, attractive wind protection for his veg crops.
On our plot, we’ve tried growing vining fruit down one side. We’ve hammered posts in, with wires running horizontally between, and planted loganberry and blackberry to train along the wire. The windbreak is one year old now, and already providing a decent amount of protection to the plot, with the added bonus of a tasty crop come summertime.