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October 2018, Week 2, We're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat

We are starting out the second week of October with rain. Yay! Don't our gardens almost always need more rain than whatever amount is falling here? Sure, they do, so we just have to appreciate that rain is going to fall heavily over the next few days, like it or not, flooded gardens or not. I suppose I would rather have had this rain in May, June, July and August but we don't always get rain when we want it or need it. At least we are getting it now. I keep waiting for an official El Nino to be declared because this autumn weather we're having sure feels El Nino-ish to me.

I don't even know how to run through the list of potential garden chores we could be doing this week because I think we'll all be dodging the rain and not able to get outdoors into our gardens for the next few days. So, maybe this is a good week for garden dreaming for 2019, making lists of varieties to plant next year, sorting through seeds and restoring order to our seed boxes (mine always is an unruly mess by now), etc.

With the heat hanging on as it has even into early October, the garden and yard and surrounding pastures have been full of tons and tons of butterflies. We've seen lots of monarchs migrating. I hope the heavy rain doesn't give them all too much trouble. We have had lots of dragonflies hanging around the garden all summer---more than I've ever seen in the garden before---and they are still here even though the whole area is greened up now and not just the garden. It has been the best dragonfly year ever. I love dragonflies. They are voracious insect predators.

Before the flooding rains started here last night, I had taken a long last look at the garden, with so many flowers still in bloom....a few zinnias and moss rose, but mostly later season flowers now like the big flowers of the grain-type amaranths, morning glories wherever I allowed them to stay, and all kinds of autumn sage---I have several varieties. The Texas Hummingbird Sage is blooming heavily, and so is the mealy-cup sage. Lantanas are large, blooming happily and just thrilled they made it through the awful summer drought. The daturas mostly have gone to seed because I haven't been out there snipping off the thornapples (seed pods). I just haven't felt like it was worth braving snakeville to deadhead the flowers. I guess I'll pay the price next year when a billion daturas sprout everywhere. A volunteer double purple datura has just begun blooming near the south fence line. It sprouted in August or September, sort of buried underneath nearby pineapple sage (also still in bloom) but finally emerged from the shadows of the more mature plants around it and now is tall enough to bloom. Marigolds, which often do not survive the summer outbreak of spider mites, are still in full bloom. They've had a really good year. Peppers and tomatoes are loaded down with fruit and flowers now, as always in autumn, and okra and lima beans still are producing. Other than that, the garden is about done for this year. Oh, the chives are happy. The garlic chives have been blooming over the last month or so. The hardy hibiscus, cannas and four o'clocks remain in bloom, as do a few begonias. The cotton plants are huge, blooming and still forming new bolls of cotton. They've been tremendously happy since the rainfall returned in September. The plants that survived the drought are so happy now that I don't even mind the gaps in the garden where various plants didn't make it through the drought.

With all the rain falling now and more expected early in the week through perhaps mid-week, I think it is likely we'll see the development of more plant diseases that are fungal and bacterial in nature. This is not unusual for autumn. I don't usually worry about these diseases when they show up this late but am careful to clean up all the infected plant material and get it out of the garden after the first freeze.

Our NWS forecast yesterday didn't really show the rain affecting us much here, in terms of amounts, until around Monday-Tuesday, so I wasn't thinking much about the rain. It was expected to start falling heavily in SW OK yesterday and to move northeastward, so I thought most all of you would see rain before I did. Ha ha ha. Mother Nature has a sense of humor. Around 7 pm Saturday evening we started getting notifications from the NWS and our county Emergency Management personnel indicating it would rain and perhaps flood here overnight. Hmmm. Guess the NWS didn't see that coming until it was almost here. So, it happened. The rain started west of us in our county and went northward but it didn't take it very long to expand eastward and get us too. We had a fitful night of heavily interrupted sleep with the weather radio going off constantly for thunderstorm warnings, flood warnings, flood advisories, etc. It was noisy rain with tons of thunder and lightning and came in repeated waves all night long. Friends from western parts of our county were posting about heavy flooding in their areas overnight. I think they are referring to road flooding and full bar ditches, not to water getting into homes and such. It is too dark still for me to run out and look at the rain gauge, but it is my understanding from the flood warnings that 3-5" of rain has fallen over a wide portion of our county and other nearby counties. Since our rainfall started later than that in most of the county, we may not have the much here at our house, but there's been a lot.

When the granddaughters spent that 3 hours in the pool on Friday afternoon, I told them that we were having our last blast of summer fun and that cooler weather and rain were on the way. It was sort of funny---after a sunny, hot afternoon where we tried to stay in the shade as much as possible, as they were getting out of the pool and drying off, a few brown autumn leaves fell off the adjacent oak tree that was providing shade for us all (it is a magnificent bur oak that we planted as a one foot tall sapling about 18 or 19 years ago) and fell into the pool. It was such an awesome moment---like we were literally seeing summer end and autumn begin with those falling leaves. It was sort of bittersweet too to realize that in just a few weeks the trees will be bare and leaves will cover the ground.

The trees whose foliage turn gold and golden-orange here are really accelerating their pace now. I love watching the sun set through the golden-orange foliage of our persimmon grove, which seems to come alive as the sunshine pours through that foliage late in the day.

I guess I need to dig out my rain boots today. I didn't wear them much this summer and I'm sure they're tucked away in a corner of the closet. When it rained in September, I just wore casual water shoes and let my feet feel the moisture, but now that the temperatures are cooler, I think I want to wear my boots.

Speaking of cooler temperatures, after waking up morning after morning to overnight low temperatures still in the low to mid-70s, we finally awakened to 68 degrees this morning. Oh, and we only woke up at 4:30 a.m. because the NWS radio alert sounded yet again, to tell us we had a new Flood Warning or Advisory or whatever (I didn't even listen to the words after I heard 'flood'). So much for the concept of sleeping in on the isn't happening here today.

By the end of the week, we should have highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s. I cannot wait. Maybe I'll get to plant pansies and snapdragons in October instead of having to wait until November. I'm hoping this heavy rain and the flooding kill some more grasshoppers as we still have far too many. I do dread the emergence of more mosquitoes. I guess I need to buy mosquito repellent when we're at the grocery store today. I hate wearing it and mostly try to spray it on my clothes and not my skin, but the mosquitoes down here in counties around us are testing positive for the West Nile Virus in large numbers, so using mosquito repellent right now is important.

I think this may be the week that autumn really, really starts to feel like autumn instead of just an extension of summer. I cannot wait. I want to walk outside one day and have it actually feel cool or cold. I want to feel a cold wind blow. I want it to be cold enough that I crave hot chocolate and then decide to make a pot of chili. I have tons and tons of frozen tomatoes in zip lock bags in the big deep freeze out in the garage, so I can make chili, soup, stew and pasta sauce all winter long. I want to curl up on the sofa with a gardening catalog or two and daydream about starting seeds in the winter of 2019.

And, because winter is coming and I love boots, I bought a new pair of boots yesterday. Not good sturdy and practical gardening boots. Nope. Cute winter boots. I didn't need another pair of boots, but I bought them anyway. You never can have too many pairs of boots in Oklahoma in a cold winter.

What's new with all of y'all? I expect if the rain isn't at your place yet, it will be soon enough, and so will the possible flooding. We'll have to tolerate the rain and even try to enjoy it, because so often we get too little rain in this state. Maybe next week on the U S Drought Monitor, we'll find heavy rain has wiped out all the remaining drought in our state. That would be so nice if it were to happen.

Have a great week everyone.


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