Monday, May 22, 2006

Thermal inversion

April showers bring May flowers

I thought something felt out of kilter last month.

Months usually follow established seasonal patterns here in Northeastern PA: February is raw and cold, a lousy location for Valentine's Day; March is cold, dry, and windy, a good month to fly a kite; April is cool and wet, especially in the latter half of the month; and May is warm and sunny, a time to plant gardens.

Well, all that's in the used-to-be column. April was hot and dry this year, and May has been cool and - in the past week or so - wet. I couldn't figure out why I had a creepy feeling the first few weeks of April, looking at the trees appearing naked in their pre-leaf stage while temperatures soared. In a typical year at this stage I would be looking at these trees through curtains of rain, and everything would register as normal for Spring. Now I was seeing early-Spring trees with early-Summer weather.

The dryness and warmth of April bled over into the first few weeks of May. Temperatures dropped a bit but the dryness continued, creating conditions ideal for brushfires. Then it started raining - just a trickle compared to some other places, like much of New England, which have received heavy rain and flooding. But it's rained every day for over a week.

Yesterday there was a break: light rain in the morning followed by sunshine the rest of the day. In the afternoon I decided to plant the tomato plants that I bought on Saturday (Rutgers, Big Boy, and some alleged Brandywines which may actually be peppers). (Yes, I know I'm lame for buying plants rather than start them from seed.) I also planted some marigolds, scarlet salvia, red and yellow onions, carrots (Danvers) and radishes (French Breakfast). Also three types of sunflowers.

It took me a few hours to prepare the pre-broken soil, work in some organic fertilizer (composted chicken manure from Agway - it smells like chocolate), and get the plants situated. Then the wind picked up.

Then I remembered the frost warnings. Yes, frost warnings in the fourth week of May.

I couldn't locate any of my Wall-O-Water frost protectors, so I did what I hope was the next best thing: I covered over the newly-planted plants with the first thing I could grab - which happened to be some burlap.

Now I'm going out to pull it off. We'll see if they made it through the night.


anne said...

I just hauled all of my little tenderlings into my pantry. Then I drove to work - at 9:30 at night - to bring in all the potted flowers we put out over the last few days.

Beauty has its price.

rimalicious said...

mmmmm chocolate ....