It all started fairly normally. Rain. It's April, after all. More rain. A little hail. I checked on the plants, laid out on the shed roof - I like to give them as much daylight as I can to keep them from getting leggy, and leaving them out in the rain too means no watering. They're also well-hardened-off this way and strong against winds - and anyway, there isn't room in my tiny home to keep them all in all the time. They were fine - they didn't mind the hail at all. They're big now. They're tough. And this kind of thing usually only lasts a minute or two, doesn't it? I took some pictures. The hailstones got bigger, but they weren't coming down very hard so still, the plants were fine. I took some more pictures.
And then it got worse. We're talking brutal. We're talking near-apocalyptic. And the damage was done in seconds.
I couldn't get the plants in fast enough, and it fell so thickly I spent the next hour scraping it away from the stems in each pot in case it frosted them through at soil level. And then I spent the next hour cleaning mud and puddles out of my kitchen.
The hail also battered some of the flowers in the garden, and blasted all the gorgeous blossom off the amelanchier. It even knocked over a couple of pond plants. And there was so much on the ground that it hung around for the rest of the day.
Thankfully not everything in the garden was so affected; all the shrubs seem okay, except for damaged flowers, and my spinach and beetroot seedlings and lettuces, radishes and mizuna are mostly okay. The peas got a bit of a battering but I think they'll be fine. The strawberries have a few holes but are pretty hardy.
Mercifully, all the tomatoes, aubergines, two squashes and a couple of cucumbers were safe in the greenhouse and are unharmed.
The damage looks worst on the squashes, but it's the peppers, that I've been babying since January, that
have really suffered, with the growing tips just smashed right off several,
and I'm really not sure it's worth resowing them this late. Some young
brassicas, too, have bent stems that may not recover. All the plants
will be stressed and bruised and set back.
I pretty much feel like giving up right now.
I won't. I'm trying to figure out whether or not to remove the damaged
leaves, to try to reduce stress on the plants and get them thinking
about new growth. Then I will spray them with seaweed extract, keep them
indoors except in perfect weather, and reassess in a week. I already
bought a little bag of seed compost for resowings, and I think I'll get
some new ancho chillies started right away as I really don't want to
miss out on them.
Oh, for a proper greenhouse...