Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Climate Change: 50 Degrees in January

This was my hepatic on April 5, 2011, a very slow start to the growing season. I'll be watching this year.

It's the 31st of January and this is the third or maybe fourth day we have had this month in the fifties. I'm visiting the Olbrich Gardens website for something fun and garden-related and I come across a seminar on growing figs.

Is climate change happening or what! (The Cofrin Arboretum at UWGB tracks and compares our weather this January. If you would like a good guide to tracking your own observations on phenology this is a good place to start.)

Yet last night I heard the weather man talking about a wait-and-see on the forecast and he used the words "polar vector" in the same sentence. So what are we talking about here? Last year our growing season (frost-free days) was a mere 103 face-to-face days. Are we in for the same this year?

Typically certain insects and plants do certain things based on degree days. That's the number of hours above 50 degrees, accumulated. So what happens if we have 100 degree day hours and then 2 months where it barely gets to 40 degrees?

Life is on hold.

This study of what happens and when is phenology and can be very helpful to the organic gardener. It might also be the way around the when to plant dilemmas, regardless of what the calendar says. It is at least as helpful as planting in tune with the phases of the moon, which I use to guess whether that frost watch should really be used as a warning and rather to cover those seedling "'cause baby it's gonna get cold tonight!" train of thought.

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