I don’t get the Farmer’s Almanac. It’s been around for 1000 years I think. There are no clear authors but it espouses the predictions for all things from which days you should get a haircut to what our winter weather will be. How do they know these things? Maybe it’s like the messages you get from a Ouija board when asking heartfelt questions; when they are answered from the netherworld, you don’t question, but just accept the wisdom coming through the moving triangular game piece is larger than our mortal minds could ever conjure left to our own devices.
This week I proactively looked up the weather prediction for the upcoming months on the Farmer’s Almanac website. This is what I learned:
Annual Weather Summary: November 2010 to October 2011
Winter temperatures will be above normal, especially in the south, with the coldest periods in late December, mid-January, and early February. Precipitation will be below normal, with near- to below-normal snowfall. The snowiest periods will occur in early and mid-December and early and late February.
April and May will be warmer and drier than normal.
Summer will be drier than normal, with near-normal temperatures, on average. The hottest periods will be in late July and mid-August.
September and October will be slightly drier than normal, with near-normal temperatures.
Ok then. I don’t really care who the man behind the curtain of the Farmer’s Almanac is because it gave me what I hoped to hear; clearance to put in my fall garden 2 months late (that’s what I got out of it at least).
I have always gardened and love growing food. I have had the constraints of space guiding my growing decisions. I have a 4’x12’ raised bed that housed beautiful tomato plants a few years ago (the best home grown vegetable in my book) but sadly my dogs developed a taste for green tomatoes which they’d gobble up during the day and then regurgitate in their crates at night. This significantly dampened my moxie about growing tomatoes.
Last year I turned to container gardening. Several darling books later and I was well organized with pots at every turn. I managed a few mini tomato plants on a balcony with no canine access but somehow the all consuming hand watering at summer’s peak caused me to tire of it all as well as the pots did not satisfy my urban farmer yearnings.
This year I did two things. With the help of my friend Brian (who fortunately is a contractor so thinks through all the aspects my impulsive nature is happy to gloss over for the speed of completion), we built an 8’x8’ foot raised bed smack dab in the middle of my postage stamp size backyard. I’d researched a dense gardening method called Square Foot Gardening in which you divide your plot into 12”’x12” squares, planting any desired plant in a recommended quantity in a given square. The idea of course is a dense garden, eliminating unused space as with traditional row gardens, reducing weeding and allowing for a significant increase in production output.
This theory proved true in my summer endeavor. As the season winds down I’m still harvesting pounds of delicious tomatoes, dried beans for winter, herbs, celery, peppers, rainbow chard and loads of decorative mini pumpkins (from a vine that clearly had a larger vision for its needs than I did having traversed all over the plot, through tomato cages, up bean trellises and back around producing 15 pumpkins and the sum total of our current Halloween décor).
I decided to plant a fall garden in the second original plot mentioned prior (the source of the nocturnal tomato vomitorium). Currently it’s littered with the late planted zucchini, some massive and inexpensive basil plants from Whole Foods and tormenting mint I mistakenly planted in the plot (vs. a pot which I HIGHLY recommend doing) that cannot be eradicated.
I’ve been busy, the weather has been too warm and frankly I’ve just procrastinated. I have a wonderful assortment of fall seeds ready for the planting…on my counter. But after reading the Farmer’s Almanac and believing in all its mysteriousness it IS telling the truth I have now soaked the seeds for faster germination and will commit them to the earth (despite rolled eyes from master gardener friends and local farmers regarding my arrogant sense of timing). Where there is a will, there is a way, right?
Or maybe where there is an obsession there is no stopping a maniac. Stay tuned.