From our local Channel 9 Weather blog monthly recaps:
“If you were looking for some dry weather in September, you had to look fast! Only nine days were dry during the month, which ended up with 6.38 inches of rain, more than twice the normal amount of 2.97 inches. One daily rainfall record fell in September, with 1.01 inches of rain on September 26 also being the wettest day of the month….”
“August was another wet month, with 4.44 inches of rain, almost an inch and a quarter above normal. By month’s end, we were nearly nine inches above average for the year in precipitation, with 34.71 inches of rain and melted snow. This puts us only a couple of inches below our average precipitation for the year (36.85 inches) with four months to go. …”
July was a little below average but February through June were all above average moisture. which made getting things planted in the Spring problematic but this fall has been ridiculous.
I had bought some ground cover for where we are going to plant potatoes next year. It is a mixture of daikon radishes and Austrian Winter peas called N-vest Groundbreaker Mix.
The idea is that the peas capture nitrogen from the air and the radishes grow deep into the soil. It is supposed to add/scavenge 120 pounds (50 kg) of nitrogen for the next crop. The radishes rot and make channels into the ground.
It then winter kills so the surface is covered during the winter to protect from erosion and smother cool weather weeds like Gill-over-ground and others.
I did get some planted on my home garden plot from a small bag of seed I had ordered from an Amish seed company but to save money I ordered 50# (22 kg)bags from the local co-op farm store fro the community potato plot. The had to set up an account with the supplier and then with shipping time I didn’t receive it mid August.
Which should have been no problem as the time to plant it is last week in July, August, or first week in September but since the middle of August there has never been a day when the soil was dry enough to work.
We have heavy clay soils and if you work them wet it collapses the soil structure and you have brick to plant in so waiting for proper soil moisture is essential.
Thus the Groundbreaker Mix sits unused in bags in my garage. I hope it stays viable for use next year, though peas are among the weakest seeds for maintaining longer term good germination.
Plan B was once the window passed for the Groundbreaker mix to plant oats on the potato patch as it will grow into the cool autumn temperatures but then winter kill so it isn’t in the way for early tillage for the spring potato crop. Even that has been thwarted.
My mainstay is rye, as it grows late into the fall and begins growth early in the spring to collect and convert sunshine into biotic mass while the rest of the garden is dormant. This helps build good soil tilth, structure.
October has continued to be well over average moisture so no tillage window has opened and now it is too late in the year for the ground to dry up with the temperatures too cool and the nights too long.
In the 39 autumns I have spent in New Vrindaban this is the first time I have been unable to plant cover crops in the fall using traditional methods. Some years the windows have been narrow and you had to be prepared and to take advantage but this year there was never an opportunity.
In my small scale garden I am able to adapt. Usually I spread a layer of compost then till it in deeply, spread the rye and rake it in. The tilling controls any escaped summer weeds or germinating cool weather weeds that are coming on strong now. The following spring I till in the rye, poke it with a broadfork and be ready to plant.
Yesterday I removed some ground cloth where gourds had been planted. The ground cloth had the weeds controlled so they weren’t an issue. I spread the rye and covered it with compost. Hopefully that will give the rye enough seed/soil contact and coverage to grow.
More challenging will be the areas where I had been hoeing for weed control that are now covered with weeds. A week of rainless weather would let it dry out enough to at least hoe them but the forecast is for three days of rain starting tomorrow so it doesn’t look good