Sunday, June 5, 2011

Predictions and Patience

You know for sure that the spring has been poor for planting when the old farmer next door comes out to farm on a Sunday. He's a very old fashioned guy (well, if you don't count the amazing profanities that spew from his mouth in every conversation) and I can say easily that I have never seen him on a Sunday.

This spring has taught me a lot about reading weather and being patient. I find that the more I switch to planting seeds directly rather than seedlings, them more I have to be in touch with what the world around me says about the weather. Seedlings can bounce back to a certain degree, but seeds will rot, fry or even wash away if not planted in the right conditions.

The other day I had planned to plant dill and a few other very superficially planted seeds. We had been hearing storm warnings all day, but the previous two days had been full of storm warnings and had yielded not a sprinkle of rain. When I went to the garden to plant my seeds I noticed the birds seemed quieter than usual. Sure there were a few cheery robins and a nuthatch singing, but even they were singing from shelter in the bramble thickets.

I decided against planting the seeds and worked on weeding instead, and within a half hour, huge black clouds had leapt out from behind our windbreak and were poised above me, rumbling grouchily. The downpour we got was enough that it would have washes my seeds away, had I planted them. Songbirds to the rescue!

Yesterday was hot and sticky and the air was full of electricity when I got another storm warning. This time however the warblers were singing, as were the sparrows and orioles. You know if the orioles are out the weather will be fair. They're wimps.

I planted my seeds and we never got a storm - not even a dark cloud! By late afternoon I decided it was definitely necessary to run sprinklers to keep my semi-established seedlings and the newly planted seeds from frying in the near-90 degree sun.

It's fascinating to me that a little extra attention to the world around you can make you a better farmer or gardener. Some use the sky as an indication of weather (red sky at night, sailor's delight...) others use the smell of rain or the birds.

Do you use any old fashioned methods to predict weather?


  1. I go for the most modern means possible. I check out the current radar loop on my favorite on-line weather site. We're so much more productive because of it. How many times have we deferred doing something outside because, "it looked like rain" - LOL! Rain, that of course, never appeared. The radar doesn't lie! I am procrastinating right now, because it's overcast and looks like rain is on it's way, but the radar says nay. Guess that means I gotta get out of the house!

    Hope your seeds and seedlings turn out fine!

  2. @Shim Farm Ah, I wish the radar loop were reliable here! We live in SE Michigan, just on the edge of two weather-system-routes. Our weather used to come from the west only, but these days it comes from north, south and east as well! We get tornadoes north and south of us each year, and flooding as well... More often than not the weather forecast is blatantly wrong, here :) "Michigan Weather: Don't like it? Wait five minutes!"

  3. I always like to plant "before" it is going to rain, lol.