Finally got my tomatoes planted, along with leeks, zucchini, purple potatoes, dill, marigolds and Purple Prairie pole beans a week ago. We did have some small hail in one thunderstorm a few days ago, but the plants came through relatively intact and yesterday I saw the tomatoes were blooming! Yipee! There had apparently been a run on Sweet Basil and they were out last weekend, but I was able to purchase several plants and another Sweet 100 cherry tomato plant yesterday on my way home from work.
I got home, changed into yard-work clothes, got my peat moss and garden soil and shovel out in the vegetable garden area with the plants and went to work. I got them planted and put extra peat moss over the soil on the top and put a sprinkler on to get them watered.
There were a few clouds in the sky and possible thunder showers had been mentioned in the weather report, but it didn't look promising at that time - about 7:30 p.m.
Forward to 10:45 p.m. - It starts by lightly raining. Within 5 minutes I can hear the rain really pelting the vent covers on the roof for my water heater and the fan over my stove. Just a minute or two later the sound changes over to the clatter of hail - the sound like pebbles hitting those metal vent covers. Hail began pelting the windows on the north and west side of my house and it sounded like rocks being thrown at the windows. The noise in the house became so loud I couldn't hear my TV even at a relatively high volume. This went on until just after 11:30 p.m.!
When I went out to feed the birds this morning, I could still see hail in the grass and piled up about an inch high in certain areas. My tomato and basil plants are pretty shredded and although they may come back, it is already into June. The growing season here at high altitude runs from about May 12 to Sept. 20, give or take a few days. The odd cold and very wet weather we had in May precluded putting gardens in by mid-May - the usual time of planting. I don't know if my tomato plants can recover fast enough to produce anything edible during the season.
I could replace them with new plants, but they are predicting possible severe weather/thunderstorms pretty much every afternoon for the two or three weeks. That means hail has a good probability of showing up in each of those thunderstorms. I am working on a design for a sort of movable cage I can build out of wood I can get from wood pallets I can get free and using some screening I already have. I want it to cover the plants and protect them from hail while letting sun and rain and bees in. Guess what I'll be doing for part of this coming weekend?
My sidewalks at home are covered in a litter of shreds of trees leaves decimated by the hail. I tried sweeping it up before I left for work this morning, but wet shreds of leaves don't respond well to a broom. Who knows when they'll dry enough to be swept away? At the rate of this rain (it is raining right now!) maybe the leaf shreds will float away in the deluge.
Nearly all of the flowers on my many lovely iris plants were shredded as well. The gorgeous purple phlox that were blooming so bountifully in my xeriscape garden along the outside of my back yard were almost completely de-flowered by the hail. The lawn is too wet (and has been for several days) to mow and the vegetable and flower gardens are all getting torn up by hail! Weeks of work and fertilizing and digging and weeding and preparing soil and then buying plants and soil enrichment organics and getting everything ready and planted - then this happens!!! So - I say - What The Hail!