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The Mars Effect 10/03/2014

Posted by zoidion in forecast, permaculture, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: It’s day two of a major meltdown here. The air is amazingly mild out there in the sun, considering that there’s still plenty of snow covering every horizontal surface except for roadways and parking lots. I was outside walking at noon today: walking on a long gently-sloping sidewalk that went on for several blocks without interruption. I was essentially wading my way upstream through a three-foot-wide river.

Even though a late opportunity to work the soil still seems likely, it’s time now to get started on the garden. I’m still inexperienced enough to feel the need to consult when-to-start-what charts. And so, with a waxing Moon in earth sign Taurus last week, I put broccoli and lettuce seeds into medium-size starting pots, so I can avoid transplanting before they go into the ground. Today’s Moon in water sign Cancer is even better for starting seeds.

And I again leafed through appendix one of Edible Forest Gardens, to finalize my list of perennial vegetables, herbs, ground covers and fungi to make an effort to acquire and get established in the yard this year:

  • Good King Henry (Chenopodium bonus henricus) – hardy to zone 3, full sun to part shade, clumping, 1-3 ft. x 12-18 in.; edible leaves, shoots, buds, seeds
  • Groundnut (Apios americana) – hardy to zone 3, full sun to part shade, sprawler, to 6 ft., edible tubers, fixes nitrogen
  • Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) – hardy to zone 2, full sun to part shade, 6-12 ft., indefinitely spreading (rhizome barrier may be necessary), edible roots
  • Giant Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum biflorum var. commutatum) – hardy to zone 3, 3-5 ft., full sun to part shade, indefinitely spreading, edible shoots
  • Galax (Galax urceolata) –  hardy to zone 4, part-full shade, prostrate herb, 6-12 in., indefinitely spreading ground cover
  • Chicory (Cichorium intybus) – hardy to zone 3, full sun to part shade, clumping, 1-4 ft. x 1-2 ft., edible leaves, root usable as coffee substitute, dynamic accumulator
  • Shitake – edible fungi on upright oak logs

And one more found elsewhere: stitchwort (Stellaria graminea) – backyard volunteer, about 2 ft., dense mat, edible shoots. I discovered that one because I kept switching back and forth between Forest Gardens and Nature’s Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants, by Samuel Thayer. And it’s not actually in that book either, but rather mentioned in an article posted on Thayer’s Forager’s Harvest site. I found the description too captivating to resist adding to the list.

There’s been one more tidbit of fascination to this process: the realization that one of my to-acquire plants is the name of a place beloved by fans of old-time music: Galax, Virginia, site of an annual festival.

Can you tell I’m budding with excitement at the prospect of the green season? (Even though I view it with more than a little trepidation.)

How quickly or slowly will all that snow melt? That’s a key question for this season’s prospects for flooding, and whether or not there are delays in the ability to work the soil.

A key astro-weather factor in answering is the Mars effect. Specifically, the relationship of Mars in retrograde phase (1 March to 19 May) to abnormal warmth. During this period, which recurs at approximate two-year intervals, the Sun, Earth and Mars are all aligned, with Earth in the middle and Mars at perigee (closest to Earth). (Astro-weatherwise, Mars is the red planet, related to heat, drying . . . and drought.)

Earth is actually closer to the Sun now than during astronomical spring (20 March to 21 June), and was even closer in January. In combination with approaching Mars perigee, factors might seem to point toward a rapid warmup.

That was the case in 2012, when the Mars retrograde period coincided with record-setting March warmth in this area, and intense heat and drought gripped most of North America for the remainder of the year.

On the other hand, Mars was prominently placed close to the Ascendant in the season chart for “winter” 2011-12. Other hot-and-dry indicators were present, in addition to Mars retrograde, in the spring chart. For summer, Mars was exactly conjunct the upper meridian for this location; one could say that Mars blazed a north-south path through the center of the continent. No wonder it was such a year to remember–a year of awakening.

Mars is not so prominent in the season chart for spring 2014: forty-seven degrees from the lower meridian. That’s close to the forty-five degree mark that comprises a secondary degree of potency. Accordingly, I am inclined to slightly modify my initial characterization of the season from “cold” to “cold overall with some notable brief spikes of unseasonable warmth.”

What especially concerns me, though, is one indication of the astromap for this season:

astromap-Ariesing2014

Note the dashed red vertical line through the center of the map: That’s the Mars-on-the-lower-meridian line, and it runs right through the big white area that represents the shrinking Greenland icecap. And that likely means major melting: greatly accelerated melting. Making the season even more interesting is the Neptune line–the curving solid dark blue one–crossing Greenland from east to west. In combination with Mars, that spells an unusual water factor: probably “lubrication” in the form of meltwater speeding greater quantities of glacial ice on its way to the sea.

Much study remains regarding the Mars effect: Going back to 1933, there have been eleven spring charts  before 2014 when Mars was retrograde. How reliably they correlate with years of excessive heat and drought is a question that remains to be answered.

-< zoidion >-

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