Indian Summer or White Christmas?

So, a few years ago I wrote an article on “Why We Need an Indian Summer” and “What Makes it a White Christmas”. I see that I am being hit big, HUGE, actually, on both articles lately. So…

Let’s get into “El Nino” Christmas. As the data shows, and I have personally been waiting for, this may be the strongest El Nino in 68 years, and it is showing true. Here in Va, we will be having out umpteenth Indian Summer this Fall, and even into Winter, which starts, tomorrow, and I am grateful because of the Polar Vortex finally going back home…. 76 degrees coming this week, thru Christmas. Ma Nature is just a bit out of whack, trying to get things back in order. I remember as an early teen in the mid 70’s, riding my bike around the neighborhood, me and  me buds, on Christmas Eve, gawking at all the Christmas lights, in t-shirts, and shorts well into the evening, just to pass the time. Even then, I was noting the “cycle” of the weather, as now, I remember it. So you Global Warming fools, keep on with your surmises that it’s real. Where were you last year, when I was cheering that the high today, was going to be 26 degrees ?

Little known fact… In any World Atlas, the Soviets include Ice Packs, as land mass, as long as it’s attached to them, for their square miles. In the last decade, they were shrinking. This year, their square miles, is gaining. The Winter Olympics they, couldn’t keep the ice frozen for the events, remember? Go figure….

Yes, a White Christmas has to be snowing on, Christmas to count, good luck with that this year. Buffalo broke a record of without snow this year, and my avid ski buds here in Va are whining… Some are from PA, and THEY don’t have any either!! The cycle is, a cycle. Every 17,000 years, we have an Ice Age, so, PANIC!!!

Gardening.. Hmm. What do I do in an El Nino year? Well, I GARDEN UNTIL FIRST GROUND FREEZE!!! I have always ended my lectures with, “There are NO rules in gardening, IF you are following rules, you are only “landscaping”.

In all my weather watching, I monitor the Jet Stream, El Nino, La Nina, Coral bleaching, the “Ocean Pumps”, Ocean Temps, and a host of Phenology events thru the year, that most, can’t even imagine. Woolly Caterpillar? Pig Spleens? NO, sorry. Not into false things. Personal Garden Coaches are your seasonal protectors, some of us, are actually “Grounded” with the Earth, well, just because we know what that means. Quick! What’s the MgHz vibration of the Earth have to do with Honey Bees and their demise?  Why did the Purple Martins bypass Richmond last year? Why have we had an abundance of Inch Worms 2 years in a row? LOL!!! NOT because of Global Warming, and I bet your Grandparents could tell you of the same such circumstances of decades gone by, as well as things blooming now, that shouldn’t be? How true is it about a Cricket, minus, what, equals the coming temp? There are soooo many of these cool things that kill the panickers reasons, it really is.

My Richmond first snow fall guess is February 9th. I will also remind my active clients, about the importance of Ironite around then, and to watch for Forsythia, to bloom early, Go Time!!! Screw those Box Store ads!!. Find yourself, a local Personal Garden Coach, and Garden-on. Box Store ads are designed to make you purchase more, chemicals…..

Have a Merry Christmas, enjoy your Holidays, whatever, However, you choose. As Garden Folk, we are all, connected, no matter what religion. We enjoy each others endeavors and learn from mistakes, we ask questions, hoping to find answers on a very cool level, no matter who answers, about our gardening successes, don’t we.. When the grind comes down, and sifted thru, as successful gardeners, help is but a pulled weed away.

Think about it, act on it.

BTW, I need a connection to Virginia Veterans and gardening, disassembling Christmas for some, or any Virginia Vets wanting to just do a HUGE thing for those in need..  Your group can be either US Military, Local Police, Veterans Affairs, or FD Hurry, it’s time. Let’s go, time to get dirty.

Email me at Kevin@Kevinsgarden.com

http://www.Kevinsgarden.com

 

 

 

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February Is Cold, But How Warm?

February Solar Temps Compared To Ambient?

Here in Richmond, Va., we have finally gotten a Winter Blast that reminds us it’s still, Winter. But, we have also achieved about an hour and 20 minutes of daylight. Check your gained time here at the USNO website, just fill in the blanks. What’s that mean to a gardener? Well, it’s like this. The angle of the Sun is rocketing from low in the South, back to East, basically. The soil temps from this angle is warming up. By the time Forsythia blooms in March, we will have 2 hours gained. But the ambient temp now is around 11, and the real feel is about 0 to -4. Was worse the other day, and tonight, worse yet. But the Sun is helping in this February blast.

Last week I had pipes freeze. No way to get anything to the well house and tank to apply heat. so, I took a digital thermometer and placed in the shade a few minutes, and as it got down to 50 degrees or so, I then put it in the direct Sun. It jumped up to 75 degrees. Now, I have done this next thing before, and it works. I took 3 large mirrors, and pointed them all at the inlet pipe and accumulator tank under the house. Had to readjust every 45 minutes or so, but from around 11:30 to 2:30, the water came back. The well house is on the North side of this old house. I could feel the heat every time I stepped in front of the mirrors, and it was warm inside that pump house. Pic below is of my endeavors. The pipe is behind tank.

Frozen

The next thing I had to try after the snow, was to see if on the same North side, if I could use the same method melting an ice dam. Here’s the pics of that chore. Before and after, about 3 hours time. Just an experiment, wasn’t going to do them all!!

DSCN1356DSCN1359DSCN1362

What’s this have to do with Gardening? Everything. For Hoop Houses, Green Houses, Cold Frames, Solarizing your beds, if you can’t get heat to them in an untimely cold blast, find a mirror and use the Sun to your advantage. Place a few jugs of water inside, and point the mirrors at the jugs. They will get to 75 degrees this time of year. There, that’s it. A little work, but save the crops and your work if you get caught in the ice.

 

Garden Center Clearance Time?

Seed Catalogs are in the mail, compost is cooking, dreams and plans for the coming seasons are dancing in gardeners heads. All consuming our thoughts and making us just a bit distant to our friends. I myself have been out to the spent paradise, overlooking it’s new abilities. It’s Winter demise is actually picturesque to me, and I still get that Horticultural Therapy. I have my phone with me, looking at the pictures from last year as I am out there, planing.

But the big picture, the leftover products at box stores. The items in the overheads and last 3 things on a shelf, prices falling because they are discontinued from the new seasons product lines. Vendors don’t want them back, most times, and the store receives no credit. They get what they can, as the price tumbles, then toss in the compactor when the price is low enough to take the hit. Where does this leave you?

If you go to a big box store, and see the clearance items that are on the, let’s say, “Pot Wall”, the yellow “was/now” stickers, maybe there is a deal, or just the thing you were looking for. Same as the Hose Aisle, Bird Seed, Tools, and bagged goods, maybe even the Hard Scape Aisle. But in any case, with a little detective work, you can find some better deals. These aisles haven’t been as high maintained since late October, because of the Christmas Crash, and most of those other spots are considered “out of season”… Are ya seein’ it yet? OK, then here’s more. Most all of the merchandise for those aisles have been consolidated to the overhead where they belong on the racks. MOST box stores have been thru an inventory lately, so all the boxed freight in the overhead is plainly marked. Write down the SKU  or item number you see on a weathered box, search for it on the shelves, if you don’t see it, find an employee with one of those fancy phones and ask what the price is for that number. Maybe it’s not exactly what you want, maybe it will do, maybe, it’s a heck of a find.

On the fertilizer aisles, either large bags or the smaller boxed, check there too. Most, again, most of those stores can’t toss hazmat items away, and if it has gone to $.01, they most likely give it to you, it costs them a huge amount to send in a hazmat truck, away… Check the Chemical Wall too, same thing. Look in the overhead for anything that says, “Promo” anything. Then find that kid with that crazy phone.

It’s Gardening Deal time at the box stores. Right now, Christmas is on final clearance, there are Storage Events happening along with Vanities, etc, so no Gardening stuff is coming in yet. They aren’t even thinking about March. So give it a try, on the down-lo, see if you find some real deal goodies. You may even find some cheap racks in Flooring, and Light Fixtures in the Light Cloud. It’s time for deals folks!!

How Much $$ are YOU Saving?

Composting, Leaf Mold, and Saving Seeds

Some believe that as December hits, gardening has been well done. Not me. I’m still getting ready for late Winter. I said Late Winter, that’s March. This years garden was very late because of moving. I didn’t get the plot plowed until late July and it was in a rocky, clay, first time tilled spot. But I had “debris” that the last tenant just blew aside. I found some gold, and ate for free for the most part. Next year, all free.

My compost pile is doing very nice. My roommate and I are continuing to contribute to its mass. We have a simple coffee can on the counter, and most everything we don’t use, is in there. It’s amazing how I see my compost as “The other garden” as it grows. And, It’s free. Also, as the Summer Garden dwindled, all that green litter, went into it, again, free. Towards the end of Summer, veggies were growing in it from seed, and Celery, Parsnip, Turnip end cuts were re-growing. That, lets me know it’s good stuff when it supports itself.

Compost (1)The pic doesn’t do it justice. From just a cleared out spot in the yard in July, you can now see it from the house an acre away. And it is all garbage to some, but gold to us. Funny that some folks who have been here just look at me and say, “You’re kidding right?” Nope, just a weekly trip out with that coffee can.

 

 

 

For a lot of people leaves are such a misunderstood item. I have always used mine, no matter where I’ve lived. I recently wrote an article for Farmers Almanac about Raking vs Mulching leaves. Just makes sense to re-use them, they are free too. When I’m done with what I need, I give the rest away. They are already mulched, and ready to be amended into a garden or use as mulch. So much nutrients in those free leaves. And, you can’t buy them at a box store. Think about how a tree in the woods is fed. No one goes out there and tosses Miracle Gro at them. A tree drops its leaves all around its base for the most part and the leaves naturally compost into its feeder roots. As I mulch mine when they first start falling into my lawn, I am adding a valuable amendment into my lawn.

Leaf MoldAs they start falling harder, I start bagging with my mower, and save for my beds, especially the veggie garden. In around mid February, I will add as a top dress to the garden, and turn in about mid March, when I will “Solarize” that bed. Solarizing is cool, I have an article around here somewhere.

 

 

 

Saving seeds has always been a must for me. I don’t like buying them, especially now because of the GMO debacle. Towards the end of the seasons, I collect one or two veggies off each plant and save those seeds, herbs, I let bloom a bit, and save them, Fall crops just need to bolt, and there are seeds. I have them in individual marked zip-loc bags, and I am saving also, all my dryer lint thru the year for starting those Tomatoes and Peppers in late February indoors. Search for the dryer lint article or hit this link when I was on TV about it.

So as I wait for the coming season, I am already ahead in the wallet department. All of my efforts, just simple doings, will save me money, and I will eat free. From the size of my compost, seed allotment, leaf mold, which also has free nutrients, I will be around $200 ahead with free stuff. And, I know what is in all the materials I use. No chemicals, growth hormones, mystery stuff. I know what I am eating all the time. So can you. Truly organic is what you control. Just because the bag is labeled as such, it’s really only 85% “organic”. Read the ingredients, there is mostly another 15% missing….

The Farmers Almanac

My first article in the FA this month!! Kinda nice because the lecture requests are coming faster this year, and more… Already October thru March bookings and I’ve had a few who didn’t realize, now they do!

http://farmersalmanac.com/home-garden/2014/08/25/putting-beds-bed/

Richmond, Va. White Christmas?

Ok, here we go. Defining a “White Christmas”. If you search for info on White Christmas anywhere, you will see a reduction in instances and your memory (and old Christmas pics). A white Christmas only counts if it actually snows on Christmas day. Snow on the ground on the 23rd say, extending thru Christmas, does not count as a White Christmas in the record books….. Last year, 2009, we had snow on the ground, but is not actually acclaimed as a White Christmas. This year….. Hate to say it, but I think we will have one. The low teens to mid 30’s weekly, and the weekly precip, will catch up with each other next weekend (12/18-19) like the dusting last weekend (which I also called on the 4th) and then for the next 3 weekends… I DID NOT want to say that… But it’s what I see, what my numbers say.. I also think it will warm up earlier this late winter/early spring… We’ll see. We can only hope.

Remember last year? Every week, we got it on the same days just about for like 5 weeks, then it started spreading out. The FA is saying milder this year, I say they got their pig spleens mixed up. I think they got Hawaii’s and Va.’s pigs confused.. La Nina has been getting bigger in the South Pacific all Summer, pushing that great heat we had around to us.. Now as the days get shorter, and the angle of the Sun gets less, that heat turns cold, the weekly Jet Stream stays constant, but dipping further south, the Arctic Dome has no confrontation, and it bursts like a balloon, dumping those nice teens into the lower South. As the Tropical Waves are still pushing off Africa, the precipitation coming out of the Western Gulf, traveling up through the Tennessee Valley, all it takes is for the Jet Stream to push down 400 miles more, and the storms are to the East of the Appalachians, and that, my friends, spells I.C.E for us………

Get to the grocery store NOW, get that snow shovel and ice melt NOW, get those limbs pruned away from the power lines NOW… 

I’m sorry, but I do love the heat. I was lovin’ the 90’s and 104 deg days last summer…. I can always get cooled off, but cold? You can have it. We need this frigid cold here. Some things that were bothersome in our gardens, won’t be back anymore. Some bugs, weeds that came here as “volunteers” from southern nurseries, won’t be back, lessening our usage in chemicals. Next week is the shortest daylight hrs.. We start gaining again around the 24th like a minute a day. Starts taking off to 2 min’s around Jan 8th, I think…. I can’t wait!!! Seed starting time is right around the corner!!

Never Snows in Richmond?

For all the folks who move here in the “off” winter years, who say it never snows here, for the retired extension agent doofus who just last week in the Times Dispatch, suggested we all start planting Zone 8 plants here, for all of you who wipe out the grocery stores in a mad dash for a “dusting” all the time…. HEY, IT’S SNOWING… Mark your calender, set an appointment on your PC for 5 years from now, and it will happen again, BUT… If you look at the 20 year history of Richmond, we may get hammered next year even worse. Last Spring was the 15 year “Early Bloom”. (This is what a digital camera is excellent for). Usually when that happens we have this nice 12″ or so storm. Within the next year or so, we will probably need to go the the grocery store again. The squirrels knew it. I have not seen so many of you with attic squirrel problems in a long time. The pest control folks are making a “killing” (get it?) this year. Hey, that’s a little phenology aspect for you. Squirrels in the attic? Go to the grocery store, fill up your tank, and don’t forget the liquor store. Get your new sled while you see them in November, (studies show that looking for sleds while it’s snowing is a bust), and sit back and wait. It will come. FoodNetwork.com may have a robust squirrel recipe, so get to Trader Joe’s and get a 2 Buck Chuck red wine. You may lose power, and it will be off for a good while, because most people don’t go out in their own yard, look up and see the limbs on the power line and call someone to take care of it. Too bad. It gets cold when the power is out, especially when the sun goes down. Hey, remember the squirrel in the attic? You could make a hat! Or a glove! You could even work up a sweat chasing it around or running from it. Look at Clark Griswold during the “squirrel” scene. He was sweating.  Speaking of phenology, the old “tons of acorns on the ground rumor” may be false. Some dude at Cornell University had an article last year on this. Hard winter coming, the squirrels will be getting them before they drop. Mild winters, ehhh, who needs them, let them fall. I had none on the ground this year. It’s been a long, coldish Fall/Winter.  I think on the 5th of March, we will have gained  2 hrs of daylight since the week of Christmas. And I don’t think we have seen the last wintry weather for this year. I’m betting on another dusting, so be ready to crowd the stores and empty them out. Hey maybe a little Ice Storm like the Easter of 2007. That was great fun huh? Fried everything in bloom.

I dunno.. I think we are still in zone 7a, but then again, I’m not a doofus. The sky isn’t really falling, is it?