Friday, 20 April 2012

Hail Devastation

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.

But 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...


Lottie said...

DO NOT GIVE UP - you'd be surprised how plants recover.

I have had such disasters myself before - in June would you believe! Hailstones from a freak storm - everything up my allotment was flattend, and the big pumpkin and squash leaves were absolutely shredded - but miraculously they recovered, - grew new leaves from the place where they hadn't been frozen and shredded - so don't give up on them.

And it's still early days yet. I haven't even started to plant any squash, tomatoes, etc.

red_shed said...

Peppers are tougher than you think- don't chuck them just yet and they might recover!

Nome said...

Thanks guys. Hail in June? Wow!

I hope you're right, red_shed - crossing my fingers!

Sue@G.L. Allotments said...

What a shame but if the growing tips are in tact things should recover - others may well branch out. And if that fails there is still time to pop more seeds in we haven't sow any cucumber ot squash seeds at all yet

Stacy said...

Wow thats some hail! I am sure most will recover peppers are a tough little plant last year i had one practicly pecked to nothing by one of my chickens but it grew back and gave me a good crop! dont give up on them.

Matron said...

OOh dear! Ouch! Nasty! don't give up! I lost nearly all my tomatoes a couple of years ago by leaving them out with a sharp frost. I thought they were all dead, but ALL of them recovered! You plants might look ragged and dying but the roots are still there and they will grow back and catch up. Just a little TLC needed, that's all!

Nome said...

Thanks Sue, Stacy and Matron - the squashes are making a pretty decent recovery now, but I'm still not convinced about some of the peppers. Ah well.

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