This was a week full of really good intentions and the best laid of plans. I posted this photo over my lunch hour on Tuesday as teaser for a post I had planned for Wednesday, but somehow it's now Saturday morning, and that post is still not quite finished. Some wicked weather, a demanding garden, a persistent summer cold, and getting ready to start a major home improvement project this weekend got the best of me this week.
The fatal blow to my well laid plans was the storm system that moved through on Tuesday night. As I was driving home from work, MPR was reporting golf ball-size hail and 50 mph wind gusts as the storms were getting going over western Minnesota, so once I got home, it was a race against the increasingly dark western sky to make sure the tomatoes were securely staked and the beans and raspberries were picked. I spent the rest of the night on our three season porch, with one eye on the radar and the other watching my garden get pummeled by heavy rain and marble-size hail. Overall, I was lucky. The garden looked a little worse for wear, but there were no casualties--just a lot of work to be done to get things back in shape.
The quinoa was hit the hardest. The wind knocked the 5' tall plants over flat. They recovered slightly after a day, but just couldn't quite upright themselves. As you can see, the flower heads are getting quite dense and are surprisingly heavy.
The plants clearly needed some extra support, but individually staking each plant didn't seem like a very practical solution given my time constraints and the fact that I didn't really want to go out and purchase another 50 stakes, but a single line of support along one or both sides of the row didn't seem like it would be a very effective solution either, so I decided to try a method that is often used for trellising tomatoes: The Florida Weave.
I started by driving a heavy duty stake several feet into the ground at each end of the rows. I tied twine to the post about a foot above ground, and started running it through the row, running it in front of one plant, then behind the next, continuing that pattern all the way to the stake at the other end of the row. Then I wrapped the twine around the stake a few times and started back, this running the twine on the opposite side of where it was from the first run (behind where it was in front, and in front where it was behind). This creates little pockets in between where the twine crisscrosses that hold each plant in place (see photo above).
When I returned back to the start, I tied off the twine, went up another foot and half or so, and ran a second line of support.
By the time the second weave was complete, the row was standing considerably taller! The last thing I did was give the rows a good watering to resettle the soil around the roots where they had been disturbed when the plants fell over. Several days later, and outside of the stakes, you can hardly tell the difference from before the storm.
The key to success with this method is to keep pulling the twine tight as you go, leaving no extra slack. It does pull on the stakes a bit (ideally, they would be super heavy duty fence posts with some extra support to counter the pull of the heavy plants, but in a pinch, these plastic-coated metal stakes worked well enough), which is why I drove them in as far as I did. The first run was a little tricky, as the plants were laying all over the place, but once that first weave was complete, the second run was much easier and faster. It worked pretty perfectly for a quick and easy rescue, which was exactly what I needed this week.