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Who Turned Off the Light at the End of the Tunnel?

March 30, 2011

The grapes, before pruning, in February. At least I can still prune when the soil is wet.

I saw a light a few days ago. The 15 day extended weather forecast at Accuweather, said there were a few dry days coming up at the end of this week and over the weekend. Then, there were several dry days (with little sunshine icons) starting around April 8. Perfect. The cover crop could be tilled in this weekend and a couple weeks later, the beds could be prepared for planting.

The grapes, after pruning.

Today, when I checked the forecast again, the light was out. It may be that we have enough dry weather to get that cover crop worked in this weekend, but the dry days in mid-April are gone. Sigh.

Yes, I know, I am obsessed with the weather. I have three main websites I check: The National Weather Service for daily and weekly weather, Accuweather for their 15 day forecast, and The City of Portland HYDRA Network for the rainfall data. If you haven’t heard about The City of Portland HYDRA Network website, it is pretty cool. Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services maintains the network; a series of rain gages around the city, recording and reporting the data they collect. There is a station at the Sauvie Island School, a mere quarter mile from our house, providing a pretty accurate picture of our rainfall…which can be quite different from the Portland airport.

The few apple trees we have left, before pruning, in February. See the sunlight?

I like checking the data table for the detailed information: hourly rainfall. Here are a few statistics I compiled from the data table: January: 11 days with no rain, 13 days with less than 1/10 inch; February: 13 days with no rain, 2 days with less than 1/10 inch; March: 2 days with no rain (not counting today, since I am guessing it will rain today), 6 days with less than 1/10 inch. Yes, 2 days in March without rain. I am not crazy, it really has rained nearly every day this month. Even though it has sometimes just been a little bit, the soil just never gets to quite dry out enough to work up. Tilling soil is bad enough for the soil structure. Tilling too wet soil can destroy it. We did till a few areas back in the dry days of February, but that was for planting cover crop in what will be the orchard and blueberry field. I did not imagine that it would be so long before we would be able to work in the vegetable beds.

In the mean time, I have been pruning grapes and fruit trees, starting in February and continuing on the drier days of March.

Apple trees, after pruning last week. No more sunlight.

Oh, and if you have a favorite weather website, would you mind sharing it with me? Especially if it has longer range forecasts? Maybe there is someone out there who can turn that light back on.

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