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High Winds – How to Keep Your Greenhouse Safe

Strong Winds are a fact of life.

Air flowing from high pressure to low pressure is the cause. The force of surface winds depends on the speed that the two different air pressures meet. The issue here is how we manage strong winds as it relates to greenhouses and crops growing inside.

High winds present a challenge for growers nationwide. For Mud Hub, these challenges started in our hometown of Santa Fe, NM. We set out to further address this problem.

The windiest times of year are when the weather changes. This includes the spring months and somewhat in the fall or before a snowstorm. The all-time high for wind force in NM was at San Augustin Pass at 104 MPH. These winds were strong enough to detail a train and cause El Paso, TX to cancel flights in March of 2019. Despite that, New Mexico’s rated at #15 for intense winds throughout the USA.

These studies do not factor in the wind forces that go through high altitude mountain ranges. Winds that sweep though valleys or vast plains without barriers, such as trees, to slow them down can be harmful.

What is considered strong wind?

Winds exceeding 50-60 MPH can be damaging to homes and trees. Imagine what it can do to polyethylene greenhouse covers or even glass or polycarbonate panels.

Keep in mind that wind speeds vary with the climate. An increase in hurricanes, tornadoes, and storms rolling off the mountains can cause abnormal conditions.  At the same time, wind has its benefits. It transports seeds, insects and birds for great distances. It also accelerates evaporation of moisture in the soil, essential to plant growth. This is why we use protection devices such as raised beds and poly film covers in our greenhouses.

How to build a greenhouse for high winds

When we first incorporated a roll-up cover system into our Mud Hub Greenhouses, we did not completely factor in the effect the wind forces on the long sides of our units. 

We firmly secured the end panels with tension wire, which kept the poly film intact for all installations. Securing the roll-up poly film assemblies by way of clamps and ties, at all corners, kept covers from completely blowing off in most cases.

However, directional winds gusts were strong enough to find openings on the sides. The polyethylene would uplift like a kite, forcing snap clamps to come off and tearing the material at corners where impact was greatest. Contrary to what we originally thought, it wasn’t a good idea to keep covers in the down position, but, rather, all the way up. Because our system has the ability to do this, strong winds can pass right through greenhouses.

But what to do when the cover is in the rolled down position resting on the side hooks?

Mud Hub Greenhouse with new wind protection system

Greenhouse Garden Owner Provides Solution to Strong Winds

One of our owners, Lynn Roeder of Lyden, New Mexico lives in an area where 30 mph gusts are common. As such, she needed to make additional modifications to her greenhouse. Having been an experienced professional greenhouse grower, Lynn cut lengths of old hoses and anchored them to the ground in order to secure the cover from side to side. This was a fundamentally easy solution to a problem that somehow eluded us. Instead of cutting up hoses to secure the covers, we purchased ratchet straps, accompanied with hardware we could fasten to our raised beds on both sides. One could easily loosen and tighten the straps at appropriate times. It supports cargo on semitrucks moving at high speeds so why not greenhouse covers?

High winds will always be a challenge for greenhouse owners. But we rest easier when we can provide innovations like these for our community of kit owners to provide the best non-commercial greenhouses available.

Overview of a Mud Hub Greenhouse and our new ratchet wind protection system

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