July 14, 2015
It would appear that summer has arrived here in North Idaho. Of course it officially arrived on June 21st, but the last few weeks we have been experiencing 90 degree temperatures. Normally June can be counted on to be one of the rainiest months of the year. So far, that just isn’t the case. Our last serious rainfall was May 25th and we had about 10 minutes of rain last week. Yesterday we had a lovely downpour that was dried off the streets in about 20 minutes.
I bring this up because of the Old Farmer’s Almanac. I have been reading it and referring to it for about 15 years. In the past the OFA has been pretty accurate. But not this year. June 1-9 showed showers and cool north if we go by the Intermountain Map, and showers & cool if we go by the Pacific Northwest map. Both are wrong. In fact, based on what I have noticed from year to year the accuracy is changing. It’s hot and dry out there! So what happened?
The Old Farmer’s Almanac has been around since 1792. That is a long time! The publication has a ton of interesting and useful information, folk lore, customs, cultural information and some fun features. It also has what’s going on astronomically every day of the year. That is my personal favorite. But when it comes to weather, the almanac is only about 80% accurate. While the OFA writes that their weather predictions are based on a highly guarded mathematical formula, most people can arrive at a fairly accurate weather prediction of their own by keeping track of average temperatures & dates, and whether we are in an el nino or el nina cycle. This information can be found on the web. And of course “there is an app for that” giving those with phone access to the web and up to date weather report.
It’s July 14th today and we have finally be gun to cool down from those three weeks of 90 degree temperatures. Because I have so many things in the hopper right now I was late getting my garden in. By late I mean the first week of June. But guess what? This warmer soil, hot temperatures and lots of water are germinating the seeds faster and my garden is responding faster. In fact everything is growing so fast! Even the Autumn Beauty sunflowers have begun to bloom. So beautiful.
The long range forecast for the inland Pacific Northwest is continued drier and less than average moisture well into winter 2015-2016. This may be great for summer activity enthusiasts, but it is bad for farmers, hay farmers, forest conditions, huckleberry pickers, skiers & boarders, and people on a city water meter.
I know these blogs would be much more interesting with images so I will try to get some up soon. In the mean time, enjoy the sunshine, periodic down pours and
February 6, 2015
If January is garden planning month, then February is “put those plans into action” month.
In January I got out the graph paper and planned my vegetable garden for summer 2015. I was careful to make a plan that rotated crops from the last two years so I can keep pests under control. I have rotated the garden every year for the last seven years. That combined with letting my chickens clean the space of bugs and grubs in both fall and spring, letting the two horses clean up any plant and vegetable leftovers in the fall as well as fertilize the ground, has lead to spectacular success year after year.
Throughout each spring, summer, and fall I build my compost pile and it is a big one. I add chicken and horse manure all spring and summer. It continues to be turned in the heat. In the later fall I add about 5 pick up loads of leaves to the mix as well as grass clippings and usually there is some left over hay in there. It gets rained on and we keep scooping it together with the tractor. What a beautiful sight to see steam rolling off of this pile in the early morning sun. Then, as soon as the tractor can get into the garden we start dumping that compost in place. I usually have about seven large tractor buckets full. The compost gets tilled in and continues to be exposed to the elements. By the end of May, I am ready to plant in the dark brown rich earth. And I never have to use pesticides in the garden.
So while my compost is continuing to cook under the snow, I am in the green house choosing the seeds I want to plant this year and cleaning last years pots of dirt and debris. That job should have been done last fall, but, well….it is a farm.
Once the pots have been cleaned I know what I have for use in either summer long potted plants or how many small pots I have to start seeds in. it is great fun, planning! And before too long it will be time to get back into the garden!
Not everyone has access to the kind of compost, manure, and working animals I do. But that should not stop any of us from insuring the health of our garden. There are too many quality, organic, and /or natural amendment products on the shelves to allow for poor gardens.
The CO-OP carries a wonderful organic, from the earth fertilizer out of Tonasket, Washington:
Pacific Calcium Nature’s Intent. The calcium based products from this company are taken right from the earth. And this particular type of organic fertilizer for both lawn and gardens is actually less expensive than most organics. It is worth the attention. Take a look:
All Purpose 7-2-4
All Purpose 7-2-4 is often used up to three times per year. It provides a slow release nitrogen that lasts up to three months. It also provides calcium for cell wall and crown development. Applied at 15 lb. per 1000 sq. ft., the 50 lb bag can provide three treatments to a 20′ x 50′ garden through the year at a retail cost of about $35 total! Organic! There just is no reason to spend a fortune fertilizing your yard and garden organically!
Calpril Granulated Limestone
Granulated Limestone is another all purpose. It supplies calcium at 36%. It raises the ph, sweetening the soil, and helps break up clay. This form of calcium is particularly beneficial in reducing Blossom End Rot in tomatoes. It retails for about $15 / 50 lb.
Rock Phosphate provides phosphate and calcium to the soil which aids in root growth and plant development. Quality of the fruit increases and one will notice that fruits and vegetables grown with organic fertilizers will have much less water content- they are not so prone to rot as common grocery store fruits and vegetables. A grocery store apple will usually develop brown spots and rot. But an organically, home grown apple will just sit on the counter and begin to shrivel. (Yes- we have done the experiments.) Rock Phosphate retails for about $33 for the 50 lb. bag.
Fish Bone Meal
Fish Bone Meal is exactly what it says and is an alternative to steamed bone meal. it is 100% Natural and OMRI approved. Fish bone meal is particularly good for the production of bulbs and root crops. It comes in 50 lb. bags and retails for about $34.00
Granulated Gypsum is best known for loosening heavy soils. While nutrients are usually present in heavy soils like clay, plant roots cannot penetrate the soil to reach them. Granulated Gypsum , when turned into the soil helps to permeate the ground. It is a natural source of calcium and sulfur. While good for sodic soils, it does not change the ph. Granulated Gypsum application rate is 5lb. / 1000 sq. Ft. The 50 lb. bag Retails for about $17.00