Neighbours talking over the garden gate has long been a tradition. They share gardening tips, complain about the weather and pests yet are ever eager to discuss their gardens. That is what I had in mind when creating this blog. So stop by my garden gate to find out the latest happenings in my garden.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
"All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child." ~ Madame Marie Curie"

Friday, March 16, 2007


Lexington Harbour, Michigan

A very condensed version of this entry was first posted on my personal blog, My Journey this morning. Once I started writing it, I thought if expanded it would make a good entry here. The entry on that blog starts with a little animation I was playing with this morning but I thought for this entry, I would start out with a sunrise picture since skywatching is the theme. While the connection with gardening is not at first apparent, hopefully by the time I'm finished, you will see the connection.

Mornings are one of my favourite times of the day. I love watching the sunrise to great the day and hear the birds twittering as the world seems to come alive. During the growing season it is the best time to be out in the garden. It is nice and cool, quiet yet buzzing with activity. Many detrimental insects like the Japanese Beetle are sluggish making manual removal easy. However, it is also one of the best predictors of what the day will be like weatherwise. And that is what this entry is all about, watching the skies and becoming in tune to what they are saying.

Long before television, radio and weatherman, our ancestors relied on the skies for when to plant, what to plant, and for the weather. In 1792 farmer's almanacs became popular as weather predictors based on astronomy and they offered valuable farming tips, something most people could use. In 1793 Robert B Thomas published the first issue of The Farmer's Almanac renamed to The Old Farmer's Almanac in 1831 but changed back in 1835 to the original name. When Robert B Thomas died in 1847 his successor, John H. Jenks returned the "Old" and it has remained that way since. This almanac is by far the popular almanac today. I buy a copy each year.

Approaching Storm

We boated to Lexington Harbour and stayed overnight fully intending to spend the following day there and possibly another night. I arose early to watch the skies. Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning does ring true as any boater will tell you. Some of the most gorgeous sunrises give way to the nastiest weather throughout the day. So it was this day and the storm was chasing us as we left the harbour headed across the Lake Huron. My suspicions were confirmed by the marine radio and within about 20 minutes we could see the storm coming. The dark clouds here were minor to how bad it got but we had to stop to put the top up so I couldn't get any more pictures.

There are other ways to tell of changing weather besides a red sky. Some are obvious but others subtle so if you catch the subtle hints first, you can have your garden battened down before nasty weather hits. Observe the moon on a clear night. A hazy ring around the moon means precipitation will be coming. A cloudy night means you are out of luck so look for other signs. A sudden still where it seems nothing is moving is the calm before the storm. Maple leaves especially silver maple turn upside down before a storm. I don't know why they do this but they do and I know it is a sure sign of a storm. Birds quite often act differently and where there were a lot of birds twittering away, suddenly it becomes quiet without nary a bird in sight. Even the squirrels seem to disappear. There is little doubt what it means when the sky turns a sickly green. These are all signs of precipitation or nasty weather on the way.

Sometimes the daybreak reveals a haze. It is pretty to photograph but it means the weather will be hot and dry or hot and humid depending on where you live. Over the period of a few days the haze may deepen each morning to the point it is noticeable during the daylight hours. As the humidity builds one or more signs of stormy weather will appear.

So, how does this pertain to gardening? As gardeners, we are stewards of the earth. It provides for us and in return we try improve but do no harm. Watering can cost a lot of money in some areas, is restricted in others and for those on wells conservation is always a concern. By watching the skies and learning the signs, you will save on watering. If the sky is clear, check the moon for a haze around out. If there is, don't water the next day. If signs are pointing towards rain, even if it comes later in the day, do not water unless your plants are under obvious stress (droopy, wilted). If the signs are pointed towards moderate (pinkish sunrise with blue sky) then water normally. If the signs are for hot, humid weather building towards thunderstorms water normally, increasing if needed but only until the first signs of weather changing.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome


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