Gardening · Homesteading

Mid Summer Gales and Wilting

All it takes is one gale storm warning in the middle of summer to have dread well up in any gardener in the Pacific Northwest.

Last week we got one of those, a week ago on Monday.

The storm came in as predicted, with howling winds, off of the Salish Sea. The morning half of the storm wasn’t bad, and the sun came out. Then part 2 came in, in the late afternoon. It rained, like a mid fall rain, for nearly 3 hours. The skies were so dark it felt like it was after sunset.

The rain didn’t stop till after 8 pm. And then suddenly the wind stopped as well. In summer we usually are dry from May to August, so a heavy rain really can hurt plants.

And what a mess it was. I lost my pop up tent I use in summer, to process veggies in – which I keep a table and chairs under, often with my daily tools on it. It was staked out and weighted down, and still flew off – and was impaled on T posts. Totally wrecked, the top was shredded, as were the bug screen walls. All my tools were tossed across the field, soaked. I had early harvested garlic drying on the table, it was soaked fully.

I was so crabby last Monday, as I stomped around looking for anything I had missed in the grass, to toss into our greenhouse, to hopefully dry. With at least 15 pairs of soaked work gloves I picked up. It was almost dark, so even made my mood more black.

The next morning the sun came out, like the storm had never happened. As it likes to do.

But there of course was more complications:

The dreaded post rain wind storm wilt. Where you just feel so hopeless.

This summer in the PNW, on our island, has been cold at night. It hasn’t hit above 55* yet at night. So things struggle to recover when it gets hit bad. The cold really affects their ability to snap back.

I went out in the morning to inspect the beds. Most was OK but I noted some bad areas:

A couple of blueberry plants were not loving it on their newest growth. There was a noticeable overnight wilt on the top growth.

A feral Calendula full went over. I saw this over and over in the beds/rows. I let Calendula grow wild because it attracts pollinators, and hey, it is very pretty. So seeing it all flat was not a great feeling.

The Sunflowers took a beating. The front ones the most. The back ones stood tall. But the front ones, were bent part way to all the way over in the morning. They were not broken though.

Scarlett Runner Beans. Of all the storm damage this was the worst. The plants collapsed overnight. The beans are fine, they are down low, protected.

The low temperatures that night after the storm were around 50* at our homestead. That was far too cold for them.

A week out it is better looking. While the worst affected sunflowers are not 100% back up, they are not dying. The blueberry bushes look healthy again. The beans? Well….at least we can harvest the pods, so I am not upset.

Nothing spread, even better.

The Takeaway?

Wilt after storms can be scary, but just give it time before you react. Don’t pull anything immediately, nor do any cutting/pruning. As well, don’t tie up things immediately after. Wait a week to see if it needs help. The sunflowers I will be tying gently to the deer fence today, to help them stay tall.

Give it a few days, a week. If it still looks bad, then start removing. But wait to be aggressive.