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New Moon June 10/06/2013

Posted by zoidion in permaculture, urban agriculture, Weather.

Twin Cities ephemera: Yesterday, Sunday, I refrained, as usual, from doing any garden work, my restraint made easier by the rain that fell most of the day. After a first-thing-in-the-morning walking loop through the neighborhood, I settled in for a bit of reading and to catch up on a couple of podcasts.

My current read is Paradise Lot: Two Plant Geeks, One-Tenth of an Acre and the Making of an Edible Garden Oasis in the City. I find it both inspiring and inspirational, though those guys seem to have gone in for quite a bit of rather exotic plantings. The photographs documenting the transformation of their very ordinary lot are, well, graphic. I get it that the shift to more perennial edibles, especially for the early spring, is an important one; and a greenhouse on some scale seems essential for many urban folks to make it through this wrenching economic/ecological/climatic transition. I avoid the pricey stuff, but after reading the first two-thirds of the book (“Sleep” and “Creep”)  I was willing to get myself to the new organic gardening store in my part of town and bring back a small potted French sorrel plant, along with onion sets and a six-pack of red and green cabbage.

First up for podcasts was Nicole Fost’s latest on her Automatic Earth site, this time mostly about the economic situation of New Zealand—dangerously globalized, without petroleum deposits or even (if I heard right) refining capacity, heavily dependent on exports of dairy products (highly destructive to the land when practiced on an industrial scale) and wood (again highly destructive when grown in monoculture tracts and harvested by clear-cutting). So it’s not quite the landscape of hobbits, Rohan and Gondor—maybe closer to Isengard.

It’s not exactly upside-the-head novel, especially in this era of systemic disintegration, but Fost’s statement regarding the machinations of the various financial “management” organs still bears repeating: “The only things that are likely to come from the top down are problems, not solutions.”

Next, the latest James Howard Kunstler “Kunstlercast” episode on the recent Congress for New Urbanism conference in Salt Lake City, featuring architect Andres Duany, and Kunstler’s, Duany’s and geographer Emily Talen’s responses to the derision by devotees of the “landscape urbanism” cult based at Harvard Graduate School of Design. All three have made contributions to a new book just published: Landscape Urbanism and its Discontents: Dissimulating the Sustainable City.

I was intrigued by what Duany had to say about town planning in the Mormon region in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—i.e., before the dominance of car culture and the depredations of suburban sprawl; I’ve never been there, but now I have a tickling interest in seeing for myself.

As I listened, I periodically checked the area weather radar at good ol’ weather.gov— watching the passage of a patch of moderate-to-heavy rain. At last, at two p.m., it was time to get out again. (When I returned, the rain gauge showed about three-quarters of an inch.)

The goal was the Oliver Kelley Historic Farm, about twenty-five Mississippi River miles upstream from Minneapolis.  According to the web site: “Oliver H. Kelley and his family began farming the land on the banks of the Mississippi River in 1850. Kelley was the founder of the first successful national farming organization, the Patrons of Husbandry, better known as the Grange. The Kelley Farm is recognized as ‘The birthplace of organized agriculture in America.’”

This place is a treasure, a plethora of opportunities to witness the workings of a farm devoid of “labor-saving” engines. I visited there twice last year, on the one-hundred-degrees Fourth of July, and in September to witness the sorghum processing; I vividly remember, on the former occasion, how comfortable the open-windowed house was, and how cool and delicious the hand-pumped water was; on the latter, the juice from the sorghum canes was a bright shade of green before turning a golden brown at the end of the boiling-off process.

Now I had a second look at the hot box and cold frame, hearing from the bonneted gardener in the ankle-length dress that the earth in the hot box is dug out much deeper than in the cold frame, so that a layer of horse manure can be added to provide an extra measure of heat from below. I heard that, back in the day, Kelley would have ripe tomatoes ready for eating, or for sale, by mid-April. (I doubt that surface growers around here will have any decent tomatoes this year.)

I inquired about the downspouts and water barrels at the corners of the house, and heard that they were indeed in place during that period of early settlement.  Rainwater was prized for clothes washing. Inside the barn, the ram of the small flock was the last sheep to get sheared with an ingenious two-bladed snip.

Outside, the storm drizzled itself dry, and across the cattle pen and past a dense band of trees, the Great River flowed by, full and fast.

June is typically the wettest month of the year in this region, and the stormiest. Thunderstorms are common. The sun arcs high in the sky, heating the earth and sending air currents and clouds to more lofty heights than in coastal regions.

Heat? Did I say heat? That would be a novelty, but it looks like we’re due for a boost in temperature as the sun arrives on the 15th at the point (the twenty-fifth degree of Gemini)  exactly one-third of the circle from the Ascendant (the east point) of the season chart for this location.

This week following the New Moon looks like one of the wetter ones of the season. With tumultuous, extreme water sign Scorpio appearing on the lower meridian of the New Moon chart, weather is apt to get rather ugly through the midsection of the continent.


But I don’t anticipate any major weather news stories emanating from Minnesota. Weather-related news for the US is likely to focus on continuing and intensifying problems in the Neptune zone—the mid-Mississippi Valley (see previous post).

Meanwhile, as Mars has just passed the ninety-degree mark in its cycle with Neptune, record flooding has disrupted and taken life in much of central Europe.  Neptune was  on the lower meridian at the time of the New Moon:


The Danube at Budapest, right under the Neptune line (the dashed blue vertical line in the map above), recorded a historic peak river level on 9th June, the day after the New Moon and two days after the exact Mars-Neptune configuration.

Nothing so dire here, and the prospect for First Quarter week (starting 18 June) is for dryer and warmer conditions—the dominant feature of that chart is fire sign Sagittarius on the lower meridian. But I suppose the famous Minnesota mosquitoes will be making their appearance in force this week. After a long winter and the chilliest, wettest spring in recent memory, the human population will be welcoming them with open arms.




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