More Weather Gripes

– Posted in: Weather
2 comments

I ought to be going to bed, so this will shorter (for me). I find it highly annoying that we can go from having 86 degree weather one afternoon to having a 23 degree night, in less than 48 hours. It just isn’t fair.

It also isn’t fair that even though it says on the seed packet “Plant out as soon as the garden can be tilled” that not all peas can tolerate 23 degree nights. The ground has been ready to be tilled for quite some time, and the peas have been planted for quite some time. At the warning of Weather Underground saying 32 degrees with frost in the colder valleys (which, of course, for us was a 23 degree night, so apparently our valley is colder than the colder valleys), I had covered all my transplanted out lettuce and spinach. Then I looked at the peas, and though, “Nah, they ought to be hardy enough.” That brought to mind rule #36–“When deciding whether or not you ought cover a plant, the only factor is how upset you will be if something gets fried.” Deciding that I would be very upset indeed if all 1 1/2 lbs. of peas got fried by a cold snap, I covered them. But, in the spirit of scientific discovery (and also running out of easily accessible bed sheets), I decided to leave some peas uncovered to see how well they would do. The Lincoln peas didn’t even bat an eye, but the Dakota peas were distinctly upset. Though not killed back to the ground, their leaves sustained quite a bit of frost damage, turning a blotchy white.

I am pleased to announce, however, that lettuce, spinach, broccoli and the like are, at least, hardy to mild frosts (such as low 30s).

I am also pleased to announce that we have a very strong contestant for being added to me Run-Me-Over-With-A-Cement-Truck-And-I’ll-Still-Produce-Abundantly list: Reuben’s Red Lettuce, which I bought from Seed’s of Change. It did wonderful last year, which didn’t surprise me. (All lettuce did wonderful last year.) But, after being left out in a low-20s snap, Reuben’s Red bounced back the quickest and most completely. In starting the 3rd batch, I noticed that Reuben’s Red had the best sprouting ratio of all of the lettuces I was trying (Reuben’s Red, Jericho, Bronze Mignonette, and Sucrine). I have reason to believe that it will produce bountifully, and very tastily, but it would be rather hasty of me to declare it a winner until after harvest. Particularly if we get a drought this summer (we only either get droughts or floods, never in between), which it is beginning to look like we might. After all, there are no longer any geysers in our side lawn, and though it’s been threatening to rain for quite some time, it’s been awhile since we had a good soaking rain. Only time will tell, of course, but I am looking forward to adding a new plant to the roster.

Lastly, I have finally come out of my winter haze, and discovered I am crazy. Why, why, why, why do I have so many tomatoes? I suppose it’s because I lot of them were old seed, last year or later, and so I planted 3 seeds for every one I wanted to sprout, and of course they all sprouted. And being to all-together too tendered-hearted girl that I was, I couldn’t kill any once they sprouted. Well, I did give to two tiniest and weakest ones to Deirdre, the three year old sister, which is almost as good as killing them. In fact, I think they got melted last night in the mild frost. Everyone compliments me on what lovely looking tomatoes they are. I think I started them in the middle of April? Maybe early April? But I’ve got them potted on to 6″ pots now, and they would love to be potted on again, but I don’t have any bigger pots, and I daren’t plant them out till after June 7, and anyway Teman hasn’t dug the tomato section yet. My grandfather asked me how I got them like that, and when I explained that I feed them with a mild fertilizer solution (about a 1/4 tsp. Miracle Grow per gallon of water) every time I water them, he likened it to feeding them cake and ice cream everyday. Well, one has to give one’s tomatoes a fighting chance when one only has about 3 1/2 months of frost free (usually) weather, and I have decided that Wall-o-Water’s are a complete pain. At least, if you have to set them up out of reach of the hose, set them up on slanted ground, and haul water over 100 feet up-hill, etc., etc. So I’ve been setting the tomatoes outside in the sun during the day, and then bringing them in when the temps. get down to about 60. I heard/read that tomatoes are likely to pout if the have to be out in weather lower than 60 degrees.

The amount of flowers that I have also exudes mid-winter madness from every pore. I shall be lucky to fit them all in the garden, and likely be repeatedly called crazy from overly practical brothers who always know better (anyone else have any of those?).

About the Author

Talitha spent the last few years doing an absurd combination of work and school, and found it wasn’t very pleasant. Now she’s doing work, school and a garden, and life is a little better! She also enjoys photography and hand feeding her ducks. USDA Hardiness Zone: 4 AHS Heat Zone: 3 Location: rural; Southern Tier of NY Geographic type: foothills of Appalachian Mountains Soil Type: acid clay Experience level: advanced beginner Particular interests: herbs, vegetables, cutting garden, cottage gardening

If winter is slumber and spring is birth, and summer is life, then autumn rounds out to be reflection. It’s a time of year when the leaves are down and the harvest is in and the perennials are gone. Mother Earth just closed up the drapes on another year and it’s time to reflect on what’s come before.

~Mitchell Burgess in Northern Exposure

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Talitha May 21, 2005, 9:40 am

Tee hee hee. Now you know WHY I need the list of “Run Me Over With A Cement Truck And I’ll Still Produce Abundantly”. We plant the tomatoes, mulch heavily with old hay, pray for rain, and (occasionally) haul water uphill. In the past, I’ve filled five gallon buckets of water, and carried two at time up the hill. (This is quite a feat for me, especially, because I am so short. When the buckets are sitting on the ground, and I grab the handles and stand straight, the buckets do not really leave the ground. The distance from my hands to the ground is about the same as the length of the bucket plus the handle. I have to “shrug” my shoulders in order to get them off the ground, and every bump in the ground makes them slosh water all over me.) Needless to say, since it is such a pain, it doesn’t happen often–only when the tomatoes really need it, and even then the water is rationed more than they would like it, I’m sure. However, since Teman recently got a trailer for his Jeep, I’ll probably talk him into hauling the water in a more convenient way this year, when I must water them. It’s still quite a pain, and mostly the tomatoes just have to learn to cope. (Most annoying, though, when we go all summer with out much rain and then we get a real soaker right before tomato harvest–all of the tomatoes split, of course, from the sudden and overwhelming intake of water.)

bill May 21, 2005, 7:22 am

If you don’t have ready water near the section where you will be planting the tomatoes, are you going to have to haul water there during the summer? Or will they be able to survive without additional irrigation?

Here where I live we do not get much rain in the summer and we have to provide water to our tomatoes at least every other day.