Sunday, November 27, 2011

La Nina

County map of drought conditions across southeast Minnesota and western Wisconsin as of November 22 2011.
November drought statistics in Southwestern Wisconsin.
According to the NWS our area has been abnormally dry. About a month ago, I cut a ragged piece from our 100 foot white fabric, row cover. It was more or less a square.  After I sowed some leftover, high traffic grass seed I found lying on a shelf in the garage, I covered the bare patch of hillside lawn with the row cover.  In the coldest part of November, we experienced some twenty degree nights, I was concerned that the freeze may have killed my newly sown grass.  I pulled out a wire staple holding the cover in place.  The grass had barely poked through the dark brown compost which I used to cover the grass seed. Oh well.  I got lazy about checking the new grass.  Until today, that is.
Joy of joys.  The grass not only grew, it flourished.  Right there in the center of the photo is my new grass.

So what?  Big deal, huh?  While it isn't earth shaking, front page news, I'll tell ya it will alter the course of events here on Black Crow Farm.

Recent weather has been mild-in the 40's to mid 50's.  It didn't rain until Friday night, last.  A few puddles. here and there.  It wasn't enough to turn Pooch, the cat into Bill The Cat with spiky cat fur as he hunts along the south fence line. But my grass thrived and flourished under the row cover.  Think about it.  Most anything here just under the arctic circle hibernates as November approaches hard winter.  I haven't cut the lawn since late October. That new grass, however, grew two inches or more.

The last major garden AHAH experience came at a dinner party at the neighbors.  They are serious organic farmers, albeit with a renegade streak. The son of one of the party-goers was talking about the effects of  red spectrum light on tomatoes.  Back then this was far reaching stuff.  In the Lee Valley  garden catalog for 2011 you can buy red plastic mulch to encourage vigorous growth of tomatoes.  It is now common knowledge to serious gardeners.  It was a mixed blessing for me in that I usually sowed 75  tomato plants.  We didn't lack a supply of tomatoes.

If indeed weather conditions continue and a predicted La Nina fizzles, white row cover could produce better spring and fall crops for this guy.  In the same National Weather Service news directive there was a map of the U.S. showing severely affected parts of the South.  Current weather patterns have caused a smaller soybean harvest, a minimal to non-existent peanut crop and will hit us in the pocket book at the grocery store.  


Snoring Dog Studio said...

So do you think you'll extend your growing season, then? Is that your plan? That turf of grass there is quite an amazing sight. I was walking downtown here the other day - we've had quite a few freezes since November 1 - and I saw a boulevard covered with lush green grass. I remember being quite surprised by it. Not everything withers away during these months! Nor should we, eh?

Gavrillo said...

Loved the last word in your comment, "eh?". The variation here is "ya, fer sure."
Right now, my hope for the row cover experiment is to start cool weather loving crops like spinach, kale, peas, cabbage and an assortment of greens extra early.
The boulevard of lush grass? Out in the open, shaded? What was other grass like in the area? In Arizona, I was able to brag I planted pansies for my boss in their old wagon display on Highway 89 (the main drag) just before Christmas. The offset was soil so hot in June, I couldn't work in it without gloves. Ya can't win.