Posts Tagged ‘rain’

Tis’ a Wet Spring

It has been a cooler and wetter spring this year than normal. The average temperature for today in Albany is 72F. the high was 60F. This has been typical this spring.

Upside

There have been advantages to this cool weather. I can still pull the wild onions that litter my perennial beds out by hand. The mostly come out whole. By this time of year they usually snap off because the ground is too dry. Other weeds also pull out more easily except of course dandelions which manage to cling to the soil no matter what the condition.

I did have to water the lawn and veggies for the first week or of June so but for the past four days the rain has done that for me. Rain provides a better soaking than irrigation does and there is something about rain water that promotes growth better than city water. In part it may be the chlorine and fluoride that come with city water.

My cool loving lettuce loves this weather. No threat of bolting in this cool cloudy weather.

Downside

Weeds also love this weather. Weed seeds that might not sprout at this point are and growing weeds are thriving. I continue to battle them (pull them) but cannot keep up with the entire yard.

My sun loving plants, especially the tomatoes, do not love this weather. Their growth is slowed and setting fruit is not happening as yet.

There are fewer insects around, especially bees, which means less pollination. On the other hand the water sitting about in puddles and containers will produce more mosquitoes.

It is likely that later this month or for sure in July the heat will return and things will return more to normal. That is my expectation anyway. I am not complaining. Cool or hot each condition has its advantages and disadvantages. For now anyway the garden looks happy and all is well.

Happy Gardening,

Dan Murphy

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Long Cold Winter

It has been a long, wet and cold winter here in the Willamette Valley. Recent reports indicate the average temperature since December 1 has been 5 degrees below normal and our rainfall above normal.

I cannot remember a colder and wetter winter in a long time. It has been too cold most days to work outside. The ground is sodden. I did not try planting any peas or other cool weather crops yet as the ground is just too wet and cold.

So far March is not looking much better. Some snow is predicted today though I’ve not seen any fall yet. The wind is cold enough for sure. I doubt it could accumulate on the valley floor as the ground is not that cold.

I perused seed catalogues and thought a lot about the garden to come but have not done much more. I need to order seeds, have not got to that yet, hope to do so later today. I plan to start some plants in the green house soon.

I failed to mulch the left-over beets and they have rotted in the ground. The carrots look OK and I need to pick some to check them out.

We usually have what I call the false spring in February. We often get a week or two of sunny weather and it can warm up enough for insects to come out. Nothing like that this year – just continued rain and cold. I am not complaining, it gives me more time to read and other things. I do look forward to some warmer weather before long so I can get somethings done out there.

I do not expect to plant any seeds early this year in the garden beds. I suspect it will be April or early May before that happens

Happy Gardening,

Dan Murphy

Fall Musings

fallFall has set in here in the Willamette Valley. Yesterday it was a comfortable 70 degrees and sunny. Today we have wind and cooler temperature – we also have some rain. That wind, incidentally, is making good work of scattering about the fallen leaves I spent two hours raking up yesterday. Mother Nature has such a sense of humor.

Vegetable Garden is put to Bed

The vegetable garden is put to bed now. The only thing not cut down and removed are the asparagus tops. I am waiting for them to turn brown. All the other boxes have been cleaned up and I’ve planted a cover crop of crimson clover which is just now sprouting.

The garden boxes are built of wooden 2 x 6s which have been out in the weather now for about 8 years. Some are starting to rot and so I will have to replace parts of them next spring. I use untreated wood because I am not satisfied that treated wood is wise to use around edible plants. Replacing the boxes once a decade is an acceptable cost to me.

The other box that is not cleaned out is the blueberry box. I still need to dress the top with a good rotted sawdust mixture that is locally available to maintain soil acidity.

The Green House

I did not use the green house much this year. It needs some upgrading. I need to run electrical power to it so I can have a fan going which I’ve learned is essential. It also requires automatic vents. I do have a good shade cloth cover for it for when the weather gets too warm. I hope to use it next spring through fall to start plants and grow a few that will tolerate the heat in summer.

Rain Water Storage

I hoped to rebuild my rain storage system this summer but did not get to it. I spent a lot of time on some home remodeling projects this fall and did not have time. Next spring I hope to rebuild the platform that holds the storage tanks (50 gallon plastic garbage cans) and double the total capacity to 200 gallons.

For the next couple of months raking up the leaves dropped by the neighbor’s sweet gum tree and our two maples in the front will be the major outdoor chore. With the coming of rain there will also be weeds to battle.

Meanwhile I continue on the remodel project for two rooms which takes a lot of time. Both rooms have been repainted and when done will have new floors – oak Pergo flooring replaces the old carpet. In the guest room I am building face frames to put doors on the storage area.

So there is plenty to do and I look forward to these projects and more for the coming year.

Happy Gardening,
Dan Murphy

Water and Climate Change

PWHydrolRainfallIt is another beautiful day in the Willamette Valley. As I write this there is not a cloud in the blue sky above. It has been dry, with low humidity (currently 45%) for the past three days. Earlier last week we had a little rain, but not much.

For those of us who have lived our whole lives here there is a noticeable change in the climate over the past several years. We are seeing less rain and fewer days when it does rain. The summers are extending further into the early fall months. Winters are seeing less rain than in the past.

A quick search on the internet shows a number of articles on this subject but little real agreement. The one thing they all agree upon is that global climate change is affecting us here and will continue to do so. It appears it will become drier and warmer here than we remember.

For the garden this means doing things a little differently. It means giving thought to planting decorative plants that need less water including more native plants. It means conserving water more through better mulching, watering more intelligently (using less and watering deeper but less often) and saving rain water.

Saving Rain Water

I already save about 100 gallons of rain water each winter and use that mostly to hand water plants in their early stages in the vegetable garden. I plan to double that capacity to 200 gallons of capacity this summer. When it does rain hard here it is easy to accumulate a lot of water quickly. My garden shed roof, which is about 50 square feet of roof space, gathers over 100 gallons of water in just a few days of heavy rain.

However my space is small and I do not have room for a serious rain water reservoir. It would great to have a thousand gallon tank, but no place to put that. So my rain water reserve will only last a few weeks in early summer to water starts and seeds as they start out.

Smarter Watering

The more serious watering from early July through October requires the municipal water supply which is expensive. Therefore it is even more important to water wisely. I try to avoid over-watering. I’ve reduced by lawn area to a very small patch so there is a reduction in water demand from that.

How much drier and warmer it will get here no one can say. Will it get as dry as northern California for example? Will that happen in my life time? No one knows.

What seems certain is that it will get somewhat drier and warmer on average, though we will still have floods in winter and cool weather at times. To adapt to that I will continue to find ways to conserve water and use it most wisely in the garden. I hope others will do the same.