Damage

In my post on Monday I mentioned that we got some rain last Friday night, which has been the only decent rainfall in my garden for weeks and weeks. Although I appreciated the much-needed moisture, there's often a downside to these heavy summer downpours.


That downside is damage. Damage to plants from high winds, or buckets of water falling, or hail, or all of them combined. This particular storm's damage seems to be from winds only, and there was only one major casualty: one of my castor beans.


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I've been meaning to stake this guy up because this happens every summer, but just hadn't gotten around to it. Once the castor beans get 8'-9' tall and start producing these heavy clusters of seeds...


A little wind comes along, and *snap* -- there goes a branch or two.


In this case it was the whole plant which folded over, and that's unusual. It's also pretty severe, as you can see above. It doesn't look much better once I straightened the plant up again:


Although the stem is cracked and weak, there seems to be enough intact to allow the plant to keep on living, so I'm going to do my best to strengthen this area and make sure it stays upright. That one branch is just barely hanging on there, but I'll try to save it too.


I wrapped stretchy green plastic garden tape around the joint, with a short length of electrical conduit tubing in there as a splint:



I then put a support pole (more electrical conduit) into the ground as deep as I could, and tied as many branches to it as I could.


I also removed as many of the seed clusters as I could reach. Those things are really heavy once they reach full size -- probably a couple of pounds each.


I should have removed these a week or two ago, and their extra weight most likely contributed to the plant falling over.

I'll add more poles over the next few weeks as the plant gets bigger -- if it survives.

It always amazes me how quickly leaves will reorient toward the light. This plant was only down for a few hours, but all of the leaves have already adjusted:


Now that the plant is upright they'll need to readjust again. They're not supposed to be pointing at the camera like that -- they should be horizontal!
 
A couple of days later, the plant looks pretty good except for a few dessicated leaves:



Not too bad though, and it looks like this castor bean is going to make it!


There was a second casualty from the storm, but it's a minor one that can easily be fixed. The other day I talked about vines, and how I like to use a single pole (of electrical conduit -- the stuff is so versatile) as a trellis. The only problem with that is there's not too much for the vines to grab onto, and the heavy rain of a storm can sort of slide them down the pole a bit:


These cypress vines were all the way to the top the other day, but now they've been scrunched down the pole.


I can slide them back up, but they won't stay. So I'm going to give them something to hang on to: a hook! I'll bend this piece of copper house wiring (I used the bare ground wire, but one of the insulated other wires would have worked too -- they just wouldn't have looked as cool):


Make a little hook at one end to put into the top of the pole, and a bigger hook on the other end to hook under the vines:


It's simple to attach the wire (with a ladder, or wheelbarrow as I used), then slide the vines and hook them up.


Just a few more minutes of training some of the hanging vine tendrils up here, and I'm finished:


In a week or less the top of this pole will be completely covered again, and thanks to the hook the vines won't be sliding back down, no matter how hard it rains.

The pole blowing over is another story, but I haven't had that happen yet, so fingers crossed. The vines will get pretty heavy by the end of the year though, so we'll see.

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