Monday, October 21, 2019

How Can Hurricanes Effect Your Garden?

hurricane forecast models

Lord of the winds! I feel thee nigh,
I know thy breath in the burning sky!
And I wait, with a thrill in every vein,
For the coming of the hurricane!
From The Hurricane - Poem by William Cullen Bryant

Okay. Let's be honest. Those of us near the coast are not that thrilled about hurricanes. We prepare as best we can, study the forecasters' spaghetti models, pray that the mega-storm won't affect us personally, but will make landfall elsewhere. 
While I was waiting on the last one, I started thinking about how hurricanes can impact gardeners, even if it's a glancing blow. Here are some observations.

Hurricanes may bring different pests

When Hurricane Irma blew through the Southeast in 2017, the region’s agriculture was affected in various ways. Ayanava Majumdar, Extension entomologist for the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service, pointed out that the storm could have surprising consequences with insect populations in our gardens.
Hear Dr. Majumdar speak about it.
Read more about hurricanes and pests.

The effects of salty soil

Salt is good, right? We say someone is “salt of the earth” if they are virtuous. Salt is a valuable commodity, sometimes used for barter or as money. Roman soldiers received part of their salary – salarium – in salt. A worthless soldier (or slave) wasn't "worth his salt." But, salt can be a bad thing. Just ask any coastal gardener. Storm surges from hurricanes - even minor flooding - increase salt content in the soil.

Why, and so what? 

Effects on pollinators and pollination

The two obvious characteristics of hurricanes are very strong winds and heavy rainfall. Gardeners affected by direct hits are immediately concerned with the devastating impact upon their gardens. But there are other less obvious but important consequences – pollinator injury or displacement, and pollination degradation.
What happens to pollinators such as butterflies and bees during hurricanes? And what happens with the pollination? 
Read more about storms and pollinators.

Unique birding opportunities

As much as we hate them, hurricanes can make a bird-watcher’s dream come true. Powerful winds send birds from distant locations far north along coastlines, or even inland. You might even find some rare species from Africa or the Caribbean in your own backyard. 
Read more about storms and birds.

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