This is just a quick update of local conditions, as I am involved in the rush of getting the garden planted, and in watering the stuff already planted in the somewhat amazingly bone-dry soil.
I gambled, putting my tomato plants in before Memorial Day, which the old-timers avoided, as they had seen a late May frost too often spoil efforts to “get ahead”. So far I’ve lucked out, though we did have a big polar high drop down and give us frost in the hollows. (Click maps to clarify and enlarge.)
Behind the high pressure the winds shifted to the south, and we had some hope of moisture coming north.
We did get a few showers of cold rain as the milder air first started to approach, but it was only enough to settle the dust. Or perhaps I should say “pollen”. It is somewhat amazing how the yellow dust is settling on the landscape. It is most noticeable on cars, and on patio tables on porches, but in the showers on Saturday morning I noticed the wipers on my car were removing a sort of yellow sludge from the windshield.
After the warm front passed it became a bit muggy, and mostly cloudy, and felt like thunder might happen, but the radar showed all the heavier showers squeezed southeast and crossing Connecticut and Rhode Island, as New Hampshire remained dry. Then the weak cold frost dried the air, without so much as a sprinkle of rain marking its passage, (except up in Northern Maine).
The top couple inches of soil are so dry that, at first, the little onion bulbs I planted acted as if they were still in storage, and which the chickens annoyed me by scratching the bulbs out of the soil, they hadn’t even started to root, and were easy to replant. At that point I started to spend more time watering, and the onions are now sending up their greens.
It reminds me a little of gardening out west. (The Navajo found me amusing because I planted my corn only an inch down, as is done in the east, whereas they planted their corn at least six inches deep in the dry sand. I had to water far more than they did.) However the soil is still fairly moist, remembering the deep winter snows, once you get down three inches.
The thing of it is, with the days getting so long and the sun getting so high, we are entering a time when evaporation often exceeds rainfall. Without a good, drenching rain, things just get drier and drier, and usually our landscape is at its driest in August.
The only good thing is that the grass needs less cutting than usual. Many Mays have seen me battling to stay ahead of the growing grass, and sometimes being forced to cut even when the grass is wet.
I can’t afford to spend too much time standing and watering by hand, (which I actually like doing, as it is a lazy man’s job), so I purchased a “soaker hose”. I think I over-did it in some places, and rotted some seeds.
However I have carrots, beets, Swiss chard, kale, spinach, lettuce, and kohl rabi sprouting and gasping for drinks. I’ve transplanted 18 tomatoes, 4 giant cabbages, 6 giant kale, 6 brussel sprouts, 6 brocolli, and 8 celery plants in.
Lettuce and Spinach require a lot of water, and I fear they’ll be stunted this year, even with watering.