Amy Grisak’s 3 tips for gusty gardening

Welcome to the first guest blog of a brand new Western Gardener’s feature called Garden Clippings!

amy-grisak-carrot-beet-harvestAmy Grisak is a garden writer who’s been playing in the dirt for nearly 30 years. She loves pushing the envelope on her Great Falls, Mont., garden where she grows fruits, vegetables and herbs for her husband and two young sons.

To keep track of Amy’s gardening adventures, please visit her blog called Living in Season. If you have questions on what’s eating your garden, post a note on her Pest Patrol blog at PlantersPlace.

“When my family moved to Great Falls, Mont., on the east side of the mountains a couple of years ago, its reputation for being a windy area preceded it. The relentless gales do not disappoint. I quickly had to learn how to protect my garden and tender seedlings from a force that causes neighbors to chain down their barbecue grills and sends trampolines flying.

The wind can do an astounding amount of damage in a single afternoon. Newly transplanted seedlings stress and die within hours, and even healthy plants sometimes look like someone beat them with sticks.

Here are a few techniques you can use to put a buffer between the wind and your garden:

  1. Construct wind breaks. A fence around the garden is invaluable when it comes to protecting an entire area. Another option is planting dense shrubs along the perimeter to slow down the wind. I’ve started hardy golden currants along one side of the garden and plan to grow elderberries on another end to provide shelter for my vegetables and tall flowers.
  2. Keep ‘em covered. Floating row covers are useful well beyond the final frost since they are effective in shielding tender plants from high winds. This is the same with solar umbrellas and cold frames. Use them throughout the season.
  3. Create protected spaces. It’s no accident that I plant taller varieties behind others that I’ve fortified with staking or some other support. I tucked my rows of corn behind the greenhouse, and they’re further shielded by the thick block of tomatoes on one side and the lattice A-frame supporting the pumpkins on the other. Without protection, the corn would be flattened. “

Many thanks to Amy for her insights into what it’s like to garden in Zone 3. She’s one of the hardiest gardeners I know!

If you have someone you’d like to hear from in future Garden Clippings, would you please let me know? We’re always interested in learning how other gardeners overcome their gardening challenges.


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I’d add floating row cover to your list of techniques. It can help block wind and retain soil heat.

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