Of course, hail storms are limited in size, so not everyone in the area will see a major storm every year, but judging by my own personal experience this is not an exaggeration. Seriously, in the 20 years I've owned my home I've suffered through a major hailstorm about once every 10 years.
On the plus side, you don't really have to worry about roofs wearing out from "old age" around here, because it's unlikely that they'll ever make it that long.
But while it takes a major storm to take out roofs, siding, windows, cars etc., even your "garden variety" hail storm (yuk, yuk) can do irreversible damage to tender plants. And it is such a bummer to put a bunch of time and effort into your garden only to see it pummeled into oblivion. Trust me, I know from whence I speak!
|This is what was left of my garden after a hail storm a few years back.|
Last year I dabbled in this by covering some of the tomato cages with screen...
And later by rigging some sheets of hardware cloth atop some 6 foot tall temporary fence posts.
Neither solution was robust or permanent enough to work for the long term, but it was enough to convince me that the idea was sound.
So this year I've decided to construct a "hail house" around my garden.
I originally got the idea while visiting my parents. They have one of those carport canopy things like this:
So my original thought was that I'd get one of those and just use the frame and cover it with the hardware cloth.
But then I was looking around online and discovered a better idea - a portable greenhouse!
Basically, it's a metal frame with a plastic cover. My plan is to attach the hardware cloth to the frame and only put the cover on now and then when we get a freak snowstorm or something like that.
In case you're not familiar with hardware cloth, it's basically like screen, only made with stronger wires and bigger holes. Mine is quarter inch hardware cloth and it looks like this close up:
This was actually something I wanted to do anyway because the stupid little strip of grass between the garden and the fence was a real pain to mow, so it just ended up being a total weed patch
|I moved the stones against the fence to widen the plot|
Then I had to re-level the soil. Oy! Let's just say that step was a bit more difficult than I had imagined!
So, the greenhouse arrived and I eagerly opened the box...
OK, it wasn't really as bad as I had feared once I got all of the parts inventoried and set about following the instructions until...
|These two pieces were supposed to be identical - hmmm...|
And after about three hours of grunting, cursing and wishing I'd invited a few friends over to help, I managed to get the frame up. Woo Hoo!!!
Thank god I had the fence to tie the thing to as I was assembling it because otherwise I never would have gotten the thing together!
I had hoped to get the hardware cloth attached in time to show you the finished product, but alas, the bicycle beckoned and I didn't get any further than this. But the plan is to cover the curved portion with the hardware cloth, attaching it at the pipe joints with zip-ties.
You'll just have to, you know, pretend you can see it.
You get the idea, don't you?
Anyhow, I also have to figure out a more permanent system for anchoring the thing down. I'm thinking stakes pounded a few feet into the ground or something on that order. Any brilliant suggestions?
I know this may seem like overkill for folks who don't deal with hail on a regular basis - but it was sooo incredibly nice last summer not to have to worry every time there was a storm brewing. It made gardening fun for me again, and that alone will make this well worth the trouble.
So tell me... do you think I'm crazy? Have you ever had a garden destroyed by hail?