By Marianne Binetti
Into every garden some rain, wind, hail, and cold must fall. These are the tools and tips I use to protect my plants when Mother Nature gets a bit wild.
A bubble wrap cage: I wrap up tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and other warmth-loving plants with an insulating cage of bubble wrap clipped over a metal tomato cage. The insulating walls are easy to remove once warm weather arrives, and the tomato cage stays in place all summer.
Gallon jug greenhouse: Cut the bottom out of a gallon milk jug, remove the cap for air circulation, and pop this mini greenhouse over young plants for instant protection. There is another advantage to using milk jugs in early spring: protection from deer, rabbits, and dogs visiting the garden.
Wind and rainstorms: I learned the hard way that a driving rain and fierce wind can strike just as my tallest perennials are ready to bloom. I always stake delphiniums before they flop; lengths of rebar and copper pipe are my go-to choices for sturdy support. My local Lowe’s store even cuts these reusable stakes to custom lengths for me.
Tip: Keep twine handy, dry and untangled by covering the spool with a clay flowerpot. I keep support supplies ready near the delphiniums. This way I’m sure to add more twine to the tall stems as they continue to grow. Now I can avoid the flop and drop of my heart -- and of my plants after that first summer storm.