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Soggy Season 21/06/2014

Posted by zoidion in agriculture, Climate, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: The solstice moment here, minutes after sunrise, was, unsurprisingly, a bit murky, even though the Sun shone and the waning Moon was visible. I jumped on my bike for a ride to the Mississippi River, more than bank-full and surging toward the faraway Gulf.

Here’s how the scene looked. (The exhaust from the power plant, converted a few years ago from coal to gas, looked rather sulfurous.)


For the first time in a week this morning, there was no precipitation to report, but the week yielded 4.88 inches. (Not so much, relatively: Some places in Minnesota reported that much or more in a day.)

June is typically the wettest, stormiest month in these parts, but this one is turning into a record breaker. At this point, thirty-five of Minnesota’s sixty-two counties have been declared disaster areas by the governor, and farm fields in some counties have so much standing water in the midst of new crops that replanting appears impossible. For those farmers, 2014 is already a washout.

17062014-flooded-fields-steil(Photo by Mark Steil, Minnesota Public Radio)

It’s been the wettest year to date. It’s even inspiring the adventurous (or foolhardy) to attempt deeds previously unrecorded: a kayaker has evidently intentionally taken the plunge over fifty-three-foot Minnehaha Falls, where plenty of rocks await at the bottom.

In my backyard garden, wet but unflooded, almost everything has been growing like crazy–especially the crabgrass, whose seeds were probably lying dormant for years. Casting aside any notions of a pristine array of vegetables, I’ve been bending my back to the task of simply preventing it from taking over entirely. I’ve had to very carefully pluck it out from the vicinity of the few tentative vines of groundnut, from among the radishes and onions. When the rainy spell was starting, I spent a fair bit of time kneeling at the edge of the ring around one of the pear trees, yanking out the tight web of hefty plantain plants so that the broccoli and onions could have a chance.

The small patch of raspberries that I started from a few canes ten years ago seems to be taking off now, probably thanks to the morning’s worth of sunlight that it receives following the felling of the big elm tree two years ago. But it’s somewhat infested with the vines of morning glories: pretty flowers when they come, I know, but otherwise a pest of a plant.

The hardy kiwis are also taking off, after six years, and they are in some danger of being overwhelmed by one of the hops plants. Gotta figure out something . . .

The elderberry bushes are also growing magnificently (and starting to blossom), so much so that one of them started to sag in an unwelcome direction. So I had to rummage around in the garage for a good length of nylon cord (saved from a Home Depot run some years ago) to tie it back, in combination with a small length of rubber (salvaged from a bicycle inner tube) looped around the cluster of stems.

There’s always something more to do: All I have to do is walk around with eyes open. 

The planetary evidence for the wet period is rather clear: The Full Moon chart for 12 June has an exact-to-the-minute opposition of Venus and Saturn that is exactly aligned with the Moon in the season chart. Venus and Saturn–especially when in angular conjunction, square or opposition, or in parallel or contraparallel of declination–is a combination denoting precipitation, especially of a gloomy, lingering kind. And they were aligned with the meridian (the circle-with-vertical-line symbol) in the Full Moon chart, so this longitudinal zone was ripe.


When the Moon moved into that chart’s rising sign (Capricorn) on the thirteenth (approaching perigee on the fifteenth), the clouds began gathering. The rains, accompanied by high winds, began on the fourteenth: It was a rough day for the opening of the Green Line light-rail train between Minneapolis and St. Paul, with many festivities washed out or blown away.

It was a bit eerie to see several instances of daytime darkness, despite the days at their longest, the Sun at its annual highest. It was worrisome to hear pelting rain, sounding like hail, in the night, along with the gush of water in the downspouts. How would the garden–and the basement–fare?

The rains continued into the Fourth Quarter Moon week, beginning on the 19th: Venus-Saturn and the seasonal Moon position all in fixed signs indicated a persistent pattern.

The next round of heavy rain came on the 18th and through the 19th, as Moon moved through the water sign of Pisces, crossing the Mercury-Neptune-upper meridian of the season chart. As Moon entered Aries, the rains tapered off, the low clouds gradually rose, and the Sun’s power could again be felt.

At least for a glorious Solstice Day, the prospect of doors unstuck seems possible.




Summer 2014 Forecast 12/06/2014

Posted by zoidion in forecast, permaculture, urban agriculture, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: After a brilliant start to the day, after a bit of rain overnight, the clouds moved back in under a northwest breeze. The temperature managed only a nudge up to sixty. Fairly typical for September, not for nine days before the summer solstice.

I’m not really complaining, mind you. Truth is, the area has been blessed with many glorious days in the past month: sunny, enjoyably warm days, gentle nights pleasantly cool for sleeping. I’ve only turned on the fan a few brief times.

In the garden, the berries on the red currant bushes are plump but still green. The corn is a good six inches high, and the beans–some of them from the “Rattlesnake” variety seeds I acquired last fall at the “permaculture skillshare”–are coming up nicely around them.

In the herb area, the lovage that I introduced a year ago from a root division was getting too big already, throwing too much shade on the echinacea. So I did the rude thing: cut it back and moved it. The root mass was quite impressive, so I’m confident that it will be back in business shortly.

I also did the first cutting (probably of three) of the comfrey, and spread the leaves among the established veggies. There’s also been plenty of plucking to do of rogue comfrey: Last year I was trying in vain to eradicate the many sprouts from the herb area, but when I consulted a more experienced gardener he just said: Chop and drop it. Well, okay. In time, I suppose, they may give up where I don’t want them. Maybe.

While there has been much to do to (somewhat) tame the first explosive growth of the season, I did manage to get out to a gathering about the “Toxic Taters” campaign: the effort to raise public awareness about the impacts of drifting pesticides from aerial spraying of vast potato-growing tracts in central and northwestern Minnesota (and other parts of the country). The main offender is the number one potato producer, Ron D. Offutt (RDO): a major supplier of potatoes for McDonald’s french fries. We heard how RDO has for some years been growing organic potatoes for McDonald’s outlets on the “left coast,” but not here–though McDonald’s promised to “look into it” several years ago. The personal testimony of health effects and threats–from a member of the White Earth Ojibwe tribe and from a paleface woman–was chilling.

For the city folks in attendance, one of the evening’s more sobering graphics was the map of Minnesota potato territory: extending to the northwestern edge of the metropolitan area. Click the link, become informed, get involved.

And now to the subject of summer weather . . . 


Outline for the season in the upper Mississippi River basin: Summer 2014

The season overall can be expected to be somewhat drier than the spring, with continuing below-average temperatures. Notable weather periods: the Fourth of July weekend (especially Saturday-Sunday the fifth and sixth), early and mid-August, and the first half of September.

Here’s the season chart:

Cancer Ingress 2014

Primary indicators: cool, dry earth sign Virgo on lower meridian (same as in spring chart), ruler Mercury retrograde in cool, dry air sign Gemini; fog-or-flood Neptune conjunct upper meridian (awaiting activation); Sun conjunct Cancer ascendant, with ruler Moon in warm, dry fire sign Aries.


Week by Week


Fourth Quarter: 19 – 26 June
Cool, with intermittent storms and variable winds.

New Moon: 27 June – 4 July
Drying, a run of warmer weather beginning 29 June.

First Quarter: 5 – 11 July
Warmer with notable thunderstorm / wind impacts early in period.

Full Moon: 12 – 18 July
Dry and warmer overall, with gradual increase in incidence of sudden local storms.

Last Quarter: 19 – 26 July
Pleasant, with temperate “growing rains.”

New Moon: 27 July – 2 August
Cool dry spell: an outbreak of northern air.

First Quarter: 3 – 9 August
Warmer, with heavy storms early in period. (Major storms in high plains / Rocky Mountain region, especially south.)

Full Moon: 10 – 16 August
Major storms with high winds to mark the Full Moon, turning much cooler.

Last Quarter: 17 – 24 August
Warming, dry, windy.

New Moon: 25 August – 1 September
Rain early in period, continuing unsettled.

First Quarter: 2 – 8 September
Stormy through central region, with gradual easing of intensity.

Full Moon: 9 – 15 September
Wet with turbulent winds beginning 10 September, especially 13 September.

Last Quarter: 16 – 23 September
Wet, especially 17 – 18 September.



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