by Charlene Burgi
Reporter Michael Salfino, with the Wall Street Journal, stated that Denver Bronco superstar Peyton Manning, famous for his precision passing, may be in trouble during the Super Bowl this Sunday. It will not be the prowess of the Seattle Seahawks’ defense nor the historic cold temperatures or snow that alters his game. It is the wind that could be his nemesis. His job will be to scrutinize those gusts before letting the football fly.
Similarly, we, too, need to assess our gardens to determine if the upcoming spring and summer winds will wreak havoc on our attempt to conserve water. We need to make adjustments for our plants to compensate for the drying conditions the wind can cause.
For years you have heard me talk about evapotranspiration. You have also heard me say that we perspire and plants transpire. You have probably experienced the effect of a breeze against your skin when perspiring. The first hint of breeze may cool you down, but continued winds tend to dry your skin and drive you to rehydrate. Plants aren’t any different. The wind also dries out those tiny little beads of water transpiring from the leave’s stomata faster than the plant can replace the moisture. If the plant cannot draw up water from the soil fast enough, the leaves will dry out or die.
We can help avoid this experience by employing a water-conserving plan for our vegetable garden and other precious plants before summer arrives.
1. Determine the direction of prevailing wind on your property and which part of the garden may be unprotected from a direct hit from the wind.
2. Is that vulnerable area shady or sunny? Sun and wind together will require more water to keep your plants alive and healthy.
3. Is the wind-prone hydrozone watered with overhead spray or drip system? The water droplets from overhead spray will be carried away in the wind and miss their targeted root zone. Any irrigation should be done in the wee hours when the air is calm.
4. Is there an existing fence that deflects the wind already, or can a temporary fence be installed using metal T posts? Link the posts together with barbless wire and secure plastic sheeting or burlap to the wire.
5. Can you build a tunnel to protect young seedlings from heat and wind? Insert fiberglass rods 12 inches apart on center and about three feet wide, then cover with filter cloth to shade and buffer the wind.
6. Tomato plants can be the recipients of heavy clear plastic wrapped around four poles to enclose the plants. Leave the top open for air to circulate.
7. Shade will also assist with premature transpiration. Shade cloth (that comes in various shade densities and widths) placed on top of and secured to posts could act as an arbor that will deflect the intense summer heat.
While we may not be able to control the wind any more than Peyton Manning, we, too, can think smart and reap winning results.
And speaking of a winning opportunity, I was told that one of my favorite speakers, Brad Lancaster, the guru of rainwater harvesting, is in town. He will be speaking at two separate events. The Hall of Flowers hosts the first event on Monday evening, February 10, in San Francisco. The second event will be held Tuesday morning, February 11, at Lakeside Park Garden Center on Lake Merritt in Oakland. Click here for details and registration information. We can thank the Bay-Friendly Landscaping & Gardening Coalition for the opportunity to partake of Brad’s wealth of knowledge. These events are not to be missed! While you’re there, be sure to drop by MMWD’s table to say hello and pick up additional conservation tips.