There’s a lot more to wind than meets the eye.
You may not see it, but gentle breezes and wailing typhoons carry insect pheromones, fungal spores, viruses, and bacteria. Gentle breezes help plants develop stronger stems, and gale-force winds can rip trees from the ground.
Seedling development is a function of sunlight, moisture, temperature, and wind. Being blown around stimulates the stem to be stronger. Botanists call this action thigmomorphogenesis. Plants grown in greenhouses, without any wind, are gently knocked around by a machine that helps prevent the plants from becoming too tall and spindly.
Note: While most pollen is too sticky to be affected by wind, wind is the primary mechanism for pollination of corn plants.
Pollen is too sticky to wipe or rub off your eyelashes, so don’t try.
You can damage your cornea. Believe me. It takes soap and water.
Wind dries plants out. Plants exposed to a lot of wind need more water than their protected brethren. Wind can also speed up erosion. Ground covers and mulch reduce that erosion. During heavy winds, you may want to move containerized plants next to a fence or wall to prevent breakage.
Protect tall plants against wind damage with stakes, tree supports, and tomato cages. Wind damage can be in the form of branches flailing around and tearing holes in leaves and branches rubbing together. Wind damage provides pathogens with a way in. And hot summer winds can lead to blossom drop and fruit set failure.
Strong winds can rip heavily laden branches or overly large limbs from a tree, leaving jagged wounds. You can help these trees recover quickly by cutting the tear to make it a flat surface, close to the trunk, but not too close. Do not cut into the branch collar. And you do not need to paint the wound. Instead, allow the tree to protect itself. It will grow a callus over the area. You may, later on, need to provide the callus with sunburn protection.
Diseases on the breezes
Disease-causing pathogens are usually microscopic. As such, they can catch a free ride on every breeze that blows through. [I wonder if that would make it a case of phoresy…] In any case, several diseases can arrive in your garden in the wind. Gray mold (Botrytis cinerea) is always present. That is why rotting fruit gets that gray fuzz so quickly. It’s everywhere.
Mummy berry spores blow into your garden on the wind. So do chemical oversprays. The chances of ringspot on Brussels sprout skyrockets after a windy day, and citrus blast often occurs right after periods of wind-driven rain. You can reduce the likelihood of citrus blast by providing citrus trees with some wind protection.
Wind protection can take many forms. It may be a fence, a hedge, or a row cover.. You can protect plants from wind by installing them close to your house. Pineapple guava, mature blueberry bushes, and many fruit and nut trees can provide a windbreak. Portable cold frames can protect smaller plants against cold winter winds.
When spring comes around, wind can mess up a plant trying to get established in a new location (ecesis). The wind is one of the main reasons for taking the time to harden off plants started in protected areas. And when you start planting those tiny seeds, such as lettuce, you can often lose most of your crop to the wind. They simply blow away. [You may want to check your neighbor’s yard for all that lettuce and endive you planted last year…] And all those delicate seedlings that emerge can be protected from the wind with a moistened layer of vermiculite. Or, you can cover them with a plastic gallon jug (cloche) with the bottom cut out. Just be sure to bury the edges or weigh down the jug enough to prevent it from blowing away, too!
Finally, I wanted to share this with you. While researching wind and its impact on plants, I learned that there are three types of wind in the universe:
I never knew that our planet outgassed anything. So, now you know. Our planet farts into outer space.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!
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