Saturday, April 30, 2011

April Forecast Prediciton 2011 -- Follow Up!

Our garden lizard, Larry, rests beside the fennel

The month of April has been atypical to say the least.  Hot, windy, humid and almost rainless are the only words to describe the month of April.  Temperatures have been around average to hot with a couple of cool nights.  We usually wait until May to turn on our airconditioner because our country home has a lot of cool breezes at night.  But this year we barely made it to the end of the month. 

Our total rain collection amounted to about 5 1/2 buckets.  We should have easily filled 12 buckets with regular rainfall.  Our tomatoes are fairing well despite the lack of rainfall due to compost tea watering.  Our compost pile is still having a hard time because of the wind drying it out.  Despite the lack of rainfall, we have our blessings to count.  At least everything in the garden is still green, except the onions...they need rain desperately.  We harvested lettuce and cabbage and they were the best ever.  Our Basil is finally taking off, and the squashes and cucumbers are doing very well.  While our Irises did bloom, they did not show as much as I expected due to lack of rain. 

Tomorrow, May 1st, we have our best chance this spring for decent rainfall.  I pray it comes! 

My Prediction for April 2011--January 4th

It was a very mild day.  I did not need a jacket at all.  As the day progressed, more and more clouds and moisture rolled in, giving me great hope for at least normal rainfall for April with normal temperatures.

Be looking forward to some May flowers in 2011 is my official prediciton because I am expecting our annual April showers! I posted a picture of one of my prized Irises because they usually sneak up on me and bloom in April. Sometimes I wonder if I am not stretching it a bit...but if you looked at the sky today, it should have rained buckets. Optimism prevails again in this prediciton!!

April 2011 Actual:

Low:  34° to 75°
High:  76° to 94°
Winds:   0 to 38 mph with gusts up to 47 mph
Precipitation:  1.87" according to Waco, Texas weather station


I think it's safe to say that I'm learning a lot about weather prediction.  There was no rain on January 4th, so I should have predicted little to no rain in April, because that is what we got.  Our average rainfall for April is at least 3".  We barely got an inch and a half at our place.  I feel badly for the people in Alabama because I think that if we had gotten some of those storms, they would not have been so hard-hit.  I pray that our weather begins to even out so that we all are blessed with rainfall goodness and miss the devastation of severe weather.  My prediction for April is disproved.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Veggie Garden Update

Pat plants some Peas
No, we are not planting a full garden this year.  Pat did win most of the argument for this year.  He decided to plant peas even though our soil sample wasn't back yet.  Our partial report on the soil fertility appears to indicate a good fertility in our soil.  However, there are deficiencies.  Nevertheless, Pat decided to go with what most experts agree upon and that is all soil is in need of nitrogen.  Planting peas will help nourish the soil with this most important nutrient.

Peas grow despite the shade!

Here is a close-up of the peas growing well.  As of this post, they are about double in size now.   We are not thinning the peas since we want them to be a cover crop.  The plan, as I understand it, will be to harvest this crop and then plant a fall garden.  Once the fall garden is harvested, we'll plant rye (seeds are already purchased) for a winter cover crop.  Then we'll be on our way to a full-producing garden!

Squash and Cucumbers

Squash and cucumbers grow in one row.  I get to prove my point that no matter the condition of the soil...during the first year...we'll have great success.  I've already thinned the plants to about two per mound.  However, on Easter Sunday, Pat declared that they have not been thinned enough.  Little did he know that his mother-in-law already approved the plantings and said that they will bump into each other, but they should be fine.  I don't know.  I think I'll give it a while and decide a little later.  In the meantime, it bothers me that our "full-sun" garden has so much shade during the morning hours.  Hopefully, the afternoon sunshine will be enough to give us a good yield.

Collecting a little rain water!
In the meantime, it is dry...very, very dry.  If I had been a little more knowledgeable about predicting weather, I think I would have accurately predicted a drought.  I have a teacher-friend who claims I am a hopeless optimistic.  I am beginning to believe she's right.  We have fires around Possum Kingdom, extreme drought in most of West Texas, and a severe drought in Central Texas.  The bucket you see in the picture represents less than a quarter inch of rain.  I was able to collect 2 1/2 buckets of rainwater, and I am grateful for that!  Since this collection, I have another 1/2 bucket to crow about!  Saturday, April 31st, Pat and I plan to go to Homestead Heritage to learn more about rainwater collection. 

With the drought were are experiencing and with the dreaded knowledge that we did not get rain in January until the 8th day (August), any rain we are blessed with needs to be harvested.  As of this post, we are expecting a 70% chance of rainfall Sunday, May 1st.  May it happen!! Please Lord, let it be!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

Have a wonderful Easter everyone!

Great niece and nephew--Hadley & Aiden
As we celebrate with family and friends, we are so grateful for all of them!  How much more fun it is with the little ones around!!

Christ is risen!
Christ will come again!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Container Garden Update & Soil Recipe

Feeling successful!
Yellow bloom on the succulent!

I have throroughly enjoyed my succulent container garden!  I can't tell you how many times I walked past the empty strawberry pot and cursed it because no matter what I'd planted, it died!  

On my oriniginal post I thought I had given the soil recipe for this garden, but I didn't.  I was probably thinking at the time: It's probably a good idea to wait and see if this thing works!
Tons of blooms!
The plants in the
openings are secure!

Succulent Recipe

Most people probably use sand and such for their succulents.  Pat and I always use what we have, and we don't have any sand.  I think the success for this container was adding a good compost to the mix and wetting the mixture first before planting. 

About 50% potting soil and 50% compost.
I added about a handful of vermiculite which helps retain moisture in the mixture and aerates the soil.

Next I moistened the soil in a tub and mixed the ingredients well.

When I potted the succulents, I added soil to the bottom of the first row of openings and packed it lightly.  I think one of the tricks to a strawberry pot is making sure the soil doesn't compact after the plants are added.  The soil needs to be compacted prior to watering in the plants so it doesn't shift.  I think that's how I've lost plants before---they literally fell out of the hole, and I couldn't smash them back in again!

Next I added one plant at a time to each hole while adding more potting soil mix and packing it down.  I continued until I reached the top.  I still watered everything in, but I didn't have to water much since my soil was moist to begin with.

Pat is so pleased with the result, he says he's going to move my container to a "prominent" spot in the garden to show it off!   

That makes me smile!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Garden Update--April 2011

Dianthus among herbs--2011
There is a reason my posts have been few and far between:  Internet---Internet---Internet.

The blessings of living in the country is you get to have a yard, and a garden, and your dog gets to run the neighborhood. 

The curse is the lack of high-speed Internet.  When the leaves grow--no Internet.  When the wind blows--no Internet.  When the rain falls--no Internet.

Nevertheless, there is still beauty all around.  And whether or not I can report it...I still get to enjoy it!!

Romaine Lettuce & Cabbage...were delicious!

Another shot of the herb garden.  This time in the foreground are:  Romaine Lettuce (delicious), Cabbage (so much better than supermarket cabbage), Parsley, Oregano, Chive, Arugula, Chocolate Mint.  In the background:  Thyme, Dill, Tarragon.

Pat plants a cover crop.
Pat plants a cover crop of black-eyed peas...the official legume of Texas.

Anyway, he wins most of the argument for planting a cover crop which is to feed our garden so we'll have many years of excellent crops.  Then the soil test came back and our soil is extremely fertile.   Who knew?  We are low in phosophorous and potassium?  We were  betting on nitrogen, but we don't have the complete results yet.
Yard wagon and spineless

Our spineless cactus is taking off as well.  After two harsh winters in a row, the solid, aged base is feeding the greenry and sprouting new pads.  I've been hoping for a few blooms, too.  But that may be asking for too much this year.  I'm glad it is rebounding.

What's this I see.  Another spineless cactus in the making?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

It's Soooo Dry

To be honest, when I started this Grandpa experiment about predicting the weather for the year, I thought it was a little silly.  However, looking back on the first few days of the year, I can tell you I was in denial about how dry this year may potentially be.  At Homestead Heritage, the instructors stated that one of the biggest challenges for Central Texas farmers and gardners is the inconsistency of rainfall throughout the year.  It either rains buckets or doesn't rain at all.  This is holding out to be true for this year. 

So far we have officially had between 4.03" and 4.28" of rainfall for the Waco area for the first 110 days of the year.  In reviewing the average rainfall chart below, we should have had about 7" so far.  There is a little hope that we will have some rain this week.  Going by KWTX's forecast, we have a 40% chance of rain starting at 6:00 p.m. tonight.  It must must! 

Another thing that is not helping one bit is the windiness of this month!  One would think it was March or something.  The lack of rainfall and the consistent winds only make it that much drier outside.  But despite the weather conditions, our garden is thriving due to our monthly water useage!  Hopefully our rain chances increase for the rest of April---it's time we caught up!

Rainfall Averages for Waco, Texas

Sadie chews on a stick on the dry, dusty ground! ;-)

Annual 33.34 inches

January 1.9 inches
February 2.43 inches
March 2.48 inches
April 2.99 inches
May 4.46 inches
June 3.08 inches
July 2.23 inches
August 1.85 inches
September 2.88 inches
October 3.67 inches
November 2.61 inches
December 2.76 inches

Years Averaged 30 years

Saturday, April 2, 2011

March Forecast Prediction 2011 -- Follow Up!

Redbud Trees bloom in March
March closes the door on winter and opens the door to spring.  This has truly been the case this year.  March has been tumultuous with the days either being cold, mild, or very hot.  I can tell you matter what I predicted for March we did not get one drop of rain.  It is an understatement to say this is not a good thing!  On to the follow up:

Actual prediction for March 2011

Given the cloud cover and mild temperatures, I predict March will usher in Spring for Central Texas. We will have mild temperatures in the day and cool nights. There will at the very least, be normal rainfall regardless of the fact that there was no rain on today's date. March is known as the windy month, but winds were calm today. So, we will come in like the lamb and go out like the lion for March 2011. It might be that April will be our windy month.

As the Irish Blessing goes--may March hold these blessings for us all:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Actual weather for March 2011
High:  57° to 94° average 75°
Low  27° to 65° average 50°
Wind  12 to 32 mph with gusts to 45 mph
Rain 0.15"---this fell somewhere, but not at our place :-)
While the prediction of spring will come and it will be windy during the month of March came true, the rain prediction did not.  As far as it being mild, the average temperatures suggest that for the most part, March was a mild month.  However, we did have those "extreme" days but they were few and far between.  The fact remains that the nights cooled off and we did not have to use the heater or air conditioner during the month.  It appears that I am 75% correct for March--I could be stretching it, but I will say that the hypothesis is proved for March!!!