First 90

Yes, Texas, at least central Texas has finally had its first 90 degree day. We had it just the other day. Even the news mentioned it’s about 10-14 days early from our normal first 90 degree day. Earlier and earlier. Anyone who doesn’t believe weather is changing, yes even those that think this is normal, may want to actually look at what is happening, not what we think if happening.

I say this because we have to actually look at the weather that is outside our door as opposed to what history says should be happening. Since its not yet the middle of April, and we’ve hit 90 degrees already, no matter what the planning guides say, we need to start being aware of heat.

Last year we had 40+ triple digit days, days where we hit or passed 100 degrees. That may not seem that bad, but remember that here in Texas, especially this area, the days are hot, but so are our nights. So where we may have 100 degree days, the nights may only get down to 80 degrees or there about. So 100 degree day is not usually followed by a cool night of say 60-70. And with that kind of heat we also frequently get very humid. We may not get rain, but we get humidity.

This combination means mold, of a variety of types, which can be problems for plants.

If we have already begun 90 degree days, we need to consider not only the heat, but any humidity we get. Some of the weather station even show with the temperature expected a “muggy meter”. It may sound cute, but it is something we need to consider here in this area.

For our upcoming week, we will have something of a cooling of the weather. Starting Tuesday (today is Sunday) we will drop about 10 degrees to the mid to upper 70’s and begin getting a chance of run. The current forecast says we could expect upwards of 3/4 to 1.25 inches of rain. We could use the rain.

Beginning soon I may begin a gardening journal on this website. Where this year has already been interesting weather, it was just a couple of months ago that we had snow, and now we have 90 degree weather, I had begun noticing “surprise” plants in my garden. I call them surprise plants since I had not yet planted anything in those areas. I would have thought that the snow would have killed off some of the seeds left over from last year. But since I now have seeds coming up, I can only guess that they are left over seeds from last year.

Here comes the heat

Yes, it wasn’t that long ago we were worried about our cold weather. This week, starting Wednesday April 7 we are due to hit 90 degrees. And we will spend 3 days at 90 degrees. According to the weather station I listen to, that is a week early on average for this area.

So welcome to the heat of Texas.

In anticipation of the summer temperatures here, I just had a pergola/deck cover installed over my outside deck. It looks like it showed up just in time. They are still working on the pergola, they delivered the wood and stained in on Thursday last week. They didn’t work Friday as it was Good Friday. But today they put it up, with just a bit of work to still do.

I am having a product called Polygal put on. We’ll see how I like it. I’m not quite sure how to describe it since I haven’t yet seen it. I’ll let you know what it is, and what I think of it once it gets installed.

Rain and hail

They said we would have a storm and we got one. We got both rain and hail, some hail 1-1/2 inches round. Between two different rain gauges, one said we had 1 inches (that was the one you buy and set out, its a physical container), and the other one said 0.72 inches (that was from the new weather station).

But we finally got some much needed rain. Most of this area is in some level of drought. But true to Texas weather, we had a lovely 70+ degree day, going for mid 80’s tomorrow and Saturday. Though Saturday and Sunday we are due for more rain. Hopefully that will happen. And if our luck holds, we might even get some rain next week. But of course, you never know.

One interesting item is that though tomorrow and Saturday are due to be in the low/mid 80’s, Sunday we are due to drop into the mid 60’s. We’ll see if that happens.

But at least it looks like central Texas has officially hit spring.

Weather station

I know I’ve mentioned I put in a new weather station, but I still have the old weather station up. Just as a refresher, the new one is an all in one unit on my fence line, out in the open. The old one has part of it up against the house (the temperature and humidity gauge), and the wind portion on my deck.

Right now the new one, way out in the open shows a temperature of 65 with a humidity of 98%. The old one shows a temperature of 67 with a humidity of 92%.

I find this interesting as I think the new one out in the open may be a more accurate reading. I did learn that the new unit rain gauge resets itself at midnight. The other night we got rain late, after 11PM. I checked the reading just before midnight and it read 0.19. But the next morning it read 0.09. So we got total of about 0.28 inches of rain. And yes, this is why I wanted the new weather station. I think getting more accurate readings will help me better care for my garden.

Just as a side note, I’ve been dumping some pots from our storm last month. Some of the plants look like they are coming back, and some seeds took off. I actually have some seeds coming up from last year that hadn’t germinated. But for pots on my deck, many of which were cutting of other plants, I decided that I didn’t really have a reason to keep them, and some I just didn’t want to keep. How many pots of the same succulent did I want!! Do I’ve been teasing roots and plants out of pots and putting the dirt into one big pot to reuse. And I figure I will check the pots, see which are worth keeping, and reuse them for planting something else.

One other note, I had purchased some starter plants at Home Depot the other week, tomatoes and peppers. They are doing great. I also broke down and purchased a grow light from Amazon. I have a sun room, that I am going to turn into a plant room. I have plants in there on a bakers rack. Now I am putting my seed pots in there, with the grow light. Since it is an indoor room the temperature in there is always house warm, but the light is a different story. Hopefully the grow light will help the seedlings. We’ll see.

The weather station

Well I’ve had both weather stations up almost a week now. And the differences are beginning to be noticeable. A great example is right now. The weather station out by the fence, the new on, shows a temperature of 57 degrees with wind of 2.5 mph.

But the old weather station, the one on the deck and closer to the house, with the temperature gauge by the house, shows a temperature of 64 with a wind of 0 (zero). I’ve noticed that there is a difference most of the time. Sometimes the temperature is different by a small amount 2 or 3 degrees, but sometimes it more like 7 or 8 degrees. I’ve also noticed that the wind is different from the fence line to the deck.

These may not really sound like information of great interest, but as a gardener it can be. When it comes to making sure plants get enough water and support, you have to know the temperature and the wind. A tomato plants needs less support for a light 5 mph wind then it does for a 25 mph wind. Also, if the temperature at the fence line is warmer than on the deck, which I suspect it will be, knowing how much warmer will help me with watering.

And of course if I decide to add a shade cloth this year I will be able to know why I am doing it. And maybe when to put it up, and when to take it down.

Spring has sprung

Good news, I’ve finally got a new weather station up. I purchased a weather station (off Amazon) that has temperature, humidity, rain, wind, wind direction, and barometric pressure. The nice thing is this one has a sealed temperature gauge so it can go outside and doesn’t need its own separate housing that I don’t have. It was a bit more expensive, but I like it. The old one has a temperature gauge, but I had no place to put it but on the back patio. That isn’t ideal as its placed close to the house and doesn’t get an accurate temperature. The new weather station, a single larger unit with everything attached to one main unit, is out on a post in the yard.

One problem with the smaller unit is that the wind gauge is in a pot on the deck. The rain gauge is a separate unit that had to be removed when the deck was put in. But because those were close to the house before, they were both affected by wind, which can be blocked by either the house, pots, or a grill. Consequently even now I realize how different the temperature and wind are between the two places, close to the house, and farther out in the yard.

Its hard to imagine that just a month ago we were dealing with snow. But now we are warm, today was in the 70’s and we are due to reach the 80’s in a few days. We haven’t had much in the way of rain, much needed rain. So I would have to say we have definitely left the cold behind us.

As much as people felt we lost a lot of plants in the cold most, by a very large degree, are coming back. For example:

roses, have some dead branches but new growth is already leafing out

blackberries, new leaves already out

swiss chard, ends are freeze burned and dead (it was covered) but it is coming back with a vengence

strawberries, not covered and acting as if nothing happened – they are growing

tomatoes did die

asparagus, already coming up

blueberries, not covered and leafing out now

carrots, still fine, covered loosely and acting as if nothing happened

lettuce, like the swiss chard covered and any place the planket touched is burned and dead, but the rest is growing

grapes, covered with a pot and growing again with new leaves already unfurled

sorrel, did lose some leaves initially but now looks better than before

fig tree, has new growth.

The citrus trees took the hardest hits. They were all covered, two of the groups had Christmas lights around them for warmth. But all took a hard hit with the cold and snow. But nobody seems to be dead. They do have dead leaves but when I bend the branches, they bend they don’t break. When I’ve cut some of the branches it is obvious they are alive, not dead.

As for my succulents, that is where I seemed to lose the most. Some look like they may survive, but they have a large amount of lost leaves and frozen stems. Those may be a total loss. That is where I need to wait and see what might survive.

Today I took a Home Depot run. They had a lot of new products – lots of plants, vegetables, trees, flowering annuals, pots, etc. I picked up some of their veggies, not something I usually do. But they had some veggie basics, for example the tomato was labeled salsa tomato. No other information given, no idea what variety. But they also had heirlooms and other plants. So I picked up tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, and some squash plants. After losing the seeds I had started I felt it was worth it.

After bring the new plants home I immediately put the into their new homes, pots. Some of the little pots I bought have more than one seeding, so I actually gave some of the spare seedlings to a friend.

I believe in sharing the plant love.

We survived

The weather event that Texas went through the other week was one for the record books, in many ways. Did people die from this cold? Apparently yes. Not the best outcome. Why did people die? Well, from what I can tell it was a variety of reasons. For some it was literally the cold – they lost power, some for pretty much the entire week. Houses got down to the 30-40’s inside the house. Some had no water for days. The cold, no heat or power, no water, no way to safely warm themselves, no way to get out, and no way to get help – from what I can tell, those were reasons for deaths in this cold event. I’m sure there were other reasons too.

For those that live in cold climates, you may wonder why this was such a big deal. Basically it came down to preparedness. How do you prepare for something you don’t know? If you’ve never lived through an earthquake, all the information you can be told, all the videos you can watch don’t really prepare you for the actual reality. Also you may have expectations. If you think you can just call for help, how does that happen when cell towers are down? How do you charge your cell phone if you have no power? Most people never think about these things.

And when I say people, I’m not just talking about citizens. It applies to companies too. Disaster planning requires quite a bit of thought. If you have no water and you can’t get to a store, what do you do? You can’t use a hose as there’s no water. If you don’t keep water on hand, how do you get water? What do you drink?

I’m not talking about survivalist training, nor having a basement filled to the brim with items just for the end of the world. But most people seem to not understand, nor prepare at all for something to happen. Except things do happen. And no I don’t have any great suggestions. The information is told to people, its available online, there are a lot of ways to find it. But preparing take work, and not everyone can easily do that. Sometimes resources are just not there for people.

I am sorry people died. I was stuck inside too. Alone. And my power went off and on too. So I had to make do too.

But back to the garden. Such was the snow and ice event in central Texas. Now we just wait and see what plants survive. The good news is it doesn’t really look like I lost a lot of them. Most of the succulents took this cold hard and they may not survive. And I think the tomatoes are dead. But surprisingly, a lot of plants seem to have survived. Now its just wait and see.

Still cold

Well its another cold day in Texas. Its now Wednesday Feb 17, 2021 and we’ve made it through two storms with one more on the way.

Texas has not taken these storms well. Texas has its own power grid and is not equipped to handle this kind of weather, especially since its basically covered the entire state, top to bottom and side to side. I understand even Corpus Christi, by the coast, got snow. I did hear they are planning on calling in help from other states that know how to handle this kind of weather. Lets hope that is true.

I spent part of this time without electricity, it would come on for a while (15 minutes to 4 hours), then go off for a while (2 hours to 4 hours). Think of it as rolling black outs. I had some freezing of a pipe in my garage (from my water softener to the house). It was enough to keep water from entering the house. I was able to thaw it enough to get my water back. I put a space heater aimed at the pipes and left it there for an hour. I was lucky. Even though the power went off, it was enough to thaw the pipe and water began dripping in the faucets. I was actually able to get water dripping in all the faucets. So now I have water again.

Some people have been without water since Monday. Some houses are in the 40’s inside the house because of no electricity. And the state does not yet know when everything will be back to normal.

SO what does this have to do with gardening you ask. Well, think about this. If you have plants outside, covered, maybe you have lights wrapped around them for warmth, those lights require electricity to be on and provide that warmth. No electricity, no lights. Those plants that you have in the greenhouse, again probably with some sort of heater, no longer have that heater. Those seedlings under grow lights don’t have grow lights that are on. And of course you cannot water anything if you don’t have water. Even you indoor plants may take a hit if they have no water and no warmth. Your first concern in these kinds of circumstances is your own survival first, you can replace plants.

Which brings us back to gardening. At this point, all those lovely plants I had outside in pots, even those up against the house are now probably dead. Since I got 7 inches of snow on my deck, and had snow blown all the way up to the house itself, the area next to the house got down into the 20’s, I expect I will be replacing a lot of plants.

I’m thinking of this as an opportunity to just start over, to a degree. I still have raised beds, nothing in one, and seedlings and swiss chard in the other, and I expect nothing will survive this cold. Considering we had one morning where the temperature was 2F, I don’t expect anything in the garden to survive. Maybe I’ll be happily surprised. I’m not sure if my grass even survived. We’ll see.

Not so funny stories. One friend has been staying with someone, no power. Where they are at is down to 43 degrees. Another friend has been without power and they are down to 45 degrees. A news caster mentioned that the TV station offered to put everybody up in a hotel a couple of blocks from the station. Some people took them up on the offer, some did not. One guy who did not said he got home and his place was in the low 40’s because he still had no power.

Since we are two storms down and one more to go, we’ll see how people fare. Grocery store shelves are empty, and grocery stores are on very reduced hours (maybe noon to 5).  Roads vary from ice covered impassable to slush, to this is drivable albeit slowly.

And Sunday we expect to be back into the 60’s.

NOTE UPDATE: they are saying as of 5pm today, Austin has now hit 122 hours at 32 or below. Also, I misspoke, we are in our fifth storm in 7 days. They may be counting since the beginning last Thursday.

Snow

We got snow. And we have another snow shot due tomorrow.

Yup, that actually is 7 inches of snow on my back deck. And its cold. Freezing, 32, is just a hope.

Tomorrow’s storm is due in the evening, around 6pm they are saying.

This storm has left parts of Texas minus power, or rolling power outages, 4 hour outages and some have gotten longer than that. Here, I’ve been on 3-4 hour times without power. I’m also having issues with water. But some neighbors are saying its low pressure. Even the news has said the power companies are having problems. Some of their equipment froze. Yup, this is Texas.

‘Unprecedented shortfall:’ Power outages could last through Tuesday

“Gov. Abbott maintains the power grid is not broken, but said that parts of the grid had to be shut down, including natural gas and coal generators.”

So we will do the best we can. I have fireplace going, candles lit, water bottles ready, and I ate a hot meal when I had the power available. Hopefully we’ll continue having power, and get water back.

I’ll keep updates coming until we get through this.

Cold and getting colder

Okay, Texas is seeing temperatures that are record breaking cold. The cold we started with three days ago is getting even colder. Right now, Sunday Valentines Day, 6pm, it is 19 degrees going for a low of 9 tonight. We are due for snow, which is currently falling ever so small flakes, and blizzard conditions. They are talking about ice and snow accumulations of 5-8 inches.

This was what the forecast was yesterday. Today its not looking any better.

Its strange to see the differences.

We’ve been doing okay here at the house so far. But the suggestion is not to go out, and considering my deck is currently 26, I’m not holding out much hope for things to survive. But the house is still warm, I have power, so I can’t complain. Of course I have more than enough food so I’m not going to starve. Hopefully everything stays on.

One thing I do have to laugh about is usually trash goes out tonight, for pick up Monday morning. But as of right now, 6pm, I can only see two houses with trash out. And I’m not one of them. I’m not going to worry about it. I haven’t seen a car on the road today, and I haven’t seen anybody out walking their dogs. Trying to get my dogs out to the grass hasn’t been easy. They look at me as if I’m nuts, as if to say “mom, you do know how cold it is out there??” They’ve had a couple of accidents, and under the circumstances I’m not making a fuss.

But they will need baths when it warms up.