Nature’s force in our gardens

It never ceases to amaze me the immense power of the forces of nature. Here in PEI and eastern Canada we are fortunate to avoid extremes of nature: tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, tsunamis, severe winter cold, and even hurricanes are generally absent. It is hard to imagine that tropical storm Dorian was moderate as far as storms go. Even this ‘mild’ event caused a lot of damage as it made its way across the Island. I am thankful that nobody was seriously hurt and sorry for those individuals who did suffer significant damage.

A large three-foot diameter tree fell on the electrical wires near my home. Several trees in my orchard were also blown over by the wind. I have staked them back vertical and I hope they will recover. So, we were quite fortunate.

In my gardens the corn was laid flat by the wind and most things not low to the ground or having small leaves were significantly rolled on their side. I am not sure what one should consider as far as preparing for windstorms. Fortunately they are very rare and I hope they remain that way.

For an apple orchard it is recommended that the fruit trees be protected from the north and the west winds. A hedge of spruce trees or planting on the side of a hill are two ways to achieve this.

Pumpkins, melons, and squash will also grow better if protected from the wind. Planting corn or other tall crop around your pumpkin patch can provide some protection.

October is the last month of active growing in the garden, however there are some things you can do to extend the season. Once the cold weather sets in you can cover crops like carrots or potatoes with a thick layer of straw mulch. This will prevent the ground from freezing until the main winter cold arrives. I have actually harvested carrots during my Christmas vacation, so I know this works. Crops like spinach, kale, and lettuce will continue to grow in a greenhouse or cold-frame after it is too cold outside.

Floating row covers can also be used the keep light frosts from damaging tender crops like tomatoes.

It’s been a great season with lots of challenges but that is what makes gardening so rewarding.

Stay safe, happy gardening.

About Christopher Dunbar

Christopher lives in western PEI along with his spouse and 4 kids, on a property that was once owned by his great grandparents. He grew up in a large farming family and has deep island roots. This rural background and exposure to outdoor living has given him a keen interest in our maritime culture and the many plant types that grow here. He furthered his interest in growing things by obtaining a master’s degree in in plant biology. Not surprisingly, all of his 25-year career has been involved in agriculture and food. He spends some of his spare time growing berries, flowers, vegetables and tree fruits of all kinds in his gardens. He and his family really enjoy the unique lifestyle that PEI has to offer.
Writing creatively about adventures in rural living is also one of his passions. Feel free to contact him if you want to share any of your interests.

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