My wife and I are going to plant all our vegetables and herbs in planters on a back patio—the only place on our property with full sun. It’s also the windiest spot throughout the year. Are windy conditions bad for plants in containers, and if so, what should I do?
Having grown up on the wind-buffeted high plains of Kansas, I can tell you that it’s quite possible to grow vegetables in windy locations. In fact, good air circulation helps to discourage many fungal diseases. If it’s windy enough to tip pots over, just be sure you’ve chosen hefty, broad-bottomed containers and added a good dose of sand to the potting medium for weight.
Depending on the strength of the wind, you may need to change the way you grow your vegetables. The trick is to encourage a ground-hugging profile so the wind skims over their tops. Instead of staking tomatoes vertically or using tomato cages, let the vines sprawl on a bed of straw, or train them on low trellises that angle away from prevailing winds. Choose bush beans instead of pole beans. Let cucumbers and melons sprawl horizontally instead of growing them up a trellis.
Plants tend to dry out faster when it’s windy, so keep an eye on soil moisture. An automated drip irrigation system is easy to construct and will save time in the long run.
If your patio is so windy that leaves are shredded, then consider adding a barrier or screen of some sort to buffer the wind. Picket or lattice fencing or a leafy hedge on the garden’s upwind side will help to diminish the wind’s force. —Doug Hall