Anchor Hanging Planters for High Wind Gardening

escaping planters

Escaping Topsy Turvy planters. One’s almost gotten away!

Not everyone lives and gardens in a wind tunnel. But for those of you who do, and for those who are planning on giving the Topsy Turvy® Tomato Planter a shot… well, you’re gonna get a snort-laugh-giggle out of this. And then you’re going to be going to be running to Ace Hardware to buy a cinder block and a goodly hank of rope, and learn to anchor hanging planters with ease.

First. If you’ve rigged your tomato plant planters way high up in the air: Stop. Go rig them lower so you can get the water into them without dislocating your shoulder. I didn’t do the math on the weight of water in a gallon milk jug. Trust me. Lower the whole contraption while you still can. Your shoulder will thank me and your right arm won’t end up looking like Popeye’s.

Besides, it’s going to be easier to bend over to check for tomatoes than it is to fly up in the air to check for tomatoes – especially in a high wind.

Attach rope to top of planter

Fig. A. Attach rope at red. Loop rope through cinder block. Attach rope at green circle.

Second. Once you have the plants lowered, tie one end of a length (*) of sturdy rope around one of the top supports of the planter.  See the red circle? Tie it there. Securely.

Third. Push the whole length of rope through the open part of a cinder block.

Fourth. Tie the other end LOOSELY to the place where the green circle is, but make a knot you can undo. Leave extra rope so you can adjust the height of the planter as needed – I left six feet extra just in case. You’ll tighten this in a moment.

Lastly. Pull the cinder block toward the wind. Voila. Plant anchor! When you anchor hanging planters, you want to make sure they’re not going to swing and hit walls, supports, barbecue pits and other obstacles. Use the cinder block to create the tension so that the planter can’t hit things if it does move.

Adjust the rope length so the block doesn’t have to be TOO far away from the plant to keep it from moving, but so that the block is not directly beneath the plant. You don’t want to be tripping over this thing every morning when you water, or my name will become your swear word of choice.

If it works, it works. If the neighbors start laughing and pointing, tell ’em you’re building an ark.

(*) How long is a length of sturdy rope, you ask? Well, it’s from the top of one side of the planter, down and through a cinder block on the ground, with a foot or so slack to adjust the block placement, and then up to the other side of the planter. THIS is why I suggest lowering the planter before you begin anchoring it – well, this and the Popeye arm thing.

Wind anchor for planter complete

Fig. B – Anchor in yellow circle is final result

See the yellow circle on the third picture, marked Fig. B? That’s the end result. The planter doesn’t whip in the wind or slam itself against the patio roof supports, which means the plants don’t get as wind-beaten as before. Which means the tomatoes won’t get beat up either, which means you can use that spiffy new food processor to make them into homemade pasta sauce, instead of waiting for the patio roof support to squish them for you.

Oh, since you’re gardening in a high wind area, once in a while, take a look at the rope where it’s going through the cinder block, to make sure it’s not sawing itself in half. Nasty surprise that’d be!

Topsy Turvy® Tomato Planters is a registered trademark of Felknor Ventures, LLC. Photo of front of Topsy Turvy® Tomato Planters product box may contain portions of copyrighted images.

5 fun facts about honey bees and high wind

High wind area

Not horizontal trees, just high wind

Speaking of pollination (and you just know we were)…

Pollination comes in three basic flavors: Wind (anemophily), insect (entomophily), or both (ambophily). There may be more types that I haven’t learned about yet – but now we’re both immune to those words from super-gardener-expert-types.

Just how DO bees pollinate plants in high wind areas? The answer is that they don’t – well, they do but not very well, until they don’t.

According to a honey bee pollination study at the College of Agriculture, University of Illinois, here are five fun facts about bees and how they do what they do*:

  1. Honey bees are most active at temperatures between 60 degrees F. (16 degrees C.) and 105 degrees F. (41 degrees C.).
  2. Winds above 15 miles per hour reduce their activity –
  3. and stop it completely at about 25 miles per hour.
  4. When conditions for flight are not ideal, honey bees work close to their colonies. Although they may fly as far as 5 miles in search of food, they usually go no farther than 1 to 1-1/2 miles in good weather.
  5. In unfavorable weather, bees may visit only those plants nearest the hive. They also tend to work closer to the hive in areas where there are large numbers of attractive plants in bloom.

The study then lists crops that “must be pollinated by bees,” including the squash I’ve been agonizing about, discusses how to keep bees, rent colonies, and the like. If I ever get to where I need to rent bees, I’ll be taking up another hobby, like mozzarella-cheese-making or pottery-throwing. Anything but beekeeping!

high winds on patio may be pollinating the tomato

High winds on patio may be pollinating the tomato

Another very readable authority on vegetable pollination is the Mississippi State University Extension Service. I particularly like their hand-drawn illustrations.

Many trees are wind-pollinated and need no bees. An easy way to tell is by flower size and brightness. Plants and trees with small flowers don’t seem to need bees and tend to rely on wind pollination. Plants with big flowers, like my sofa-devouring yellow squash, must wait for bees to come along (or rely on an enthusiastic amateur gardener with a box of q-tips).

(* bold and outline markings in quoted material are mine)