Monday, October 19, 2009
First Snow – the Coming of Indian Summer
A mid-October snowfall is common in this region. It fell October 15th and 16th and when it was over, the ground had about four inches here. It was a pretty and ugly wake-up call. There are still projects to get done before the serious stuff gets here; although some serious snow fell, measured in feet, October in 1997 in Buffalo, New York and basically shut down the city.
Snow does have an upside. For the yard and garden, snow does has positive benefits. It is weather's way of providing necessary mulch to help protect and insulated the soil from severe cold and cycles of thawing and freezing. Snow also helps to retain soil moisture in the ground, important for both yard and the water well.
Snow also helps to put an end to some pesky insects such as flies and mosquito's, a point to recall with a snow shovel in hand.
This week will be an Indian Summer week if the forecasts are true. (Read about Ebenezer's contribution in 1794 below.) It will be a good week to mulch with other material before the next arrival. Leaves, grass clippings compost and other organic material can be placed in garden and around trees and shrubs to help the snow work it's benefits. There is always something to do in yard or garden
Snow Brings Wood Ash
The cold weather brings wood ashes for many, even during an Indian Summer, the nights can be frosty. The common belief is that the ashes are good for the vegetable or flower garden. But there are several qualifiers.
Wood ash does contain potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. However, the levels of each depend on what wood is burned; hard woods will have higher levels than soft woods. Wood ashes can help neutralize the soil similar to lime; however in general, it takes about twice as many wood ashes to reach the same levels as lime. Wood ash can be used successful for the vegetable garden except areas where potatoes will be planted.
The generally accepted amount for vegetables is one gallon of ashes per square yard. Lesser amounts can also be used successfully around trees, particularly fruit trees and shrubs and flower beds. If wood ashes will be saved throughout the winter, they need to be kept dry, once one is certain all the hot embers have been extinguished. A better idea, and safer, is to just sprinkle the ashes on the snow or frozen ground. One chord of wood, according to estimates will produce about sixty pounds of wood ash.
Coal ash should never be used, nor should treated lumber. Fireplace logs and other commercial fire starters should not be used in the garden; nor should the ashes from a fire which contains plastic or rubber products.
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PA Snow for Squirrel Season
In many area it wasn't a good day for hunting squirrels as the season opened in many regions. The heavy wet snow fell in the woods most of the day off of the many leaves which remain on the trees; branches snapped and fell. Even the golden rod fields were flattened by the wet heavy snow. This week, and hopefully, next, the Indian Summer weather will remain and bring better days.
But this black squirrel was harvested. Black squirrels are not as common as many others. At one time in the early days, there were more plentiful and abundant. A black squirrel is actually a gray squirrel but wears a different coat.
The mast crop in some areas is heavy, while in others, scarce. The squirrels will simply move, like many animals, to the areas which have plenty of food.
While the cold rainy and snowy weather made for hard conditions in the woods, the Lake Erie Steelhead Trout have been moving up the creeks and fishing for them has been good.
They can be fighters. This steehead was taken from Sixteen Mile Creek in Erie County.
Check out my recently published content on AC:
Steelhead Journey in Lake Erie
Stay up to Date on H1N1 and the Flu Season.
Snow Brings the “First” Indian Summer
Major Ebenezer Denny wrote one of the first known occurrences of the term “Indian Summer” on October 13, 1794 in a journal he was keeping. Ebenezer was at a small military garrison at Fort LeBoeuf, known today as Waterford, Pennsylvania, located in northwestern Pennsylvania.
No one however is quite sure of the origin of the term and exactly what the term's relationship with the Native Americans. What is known is that it is period of dry unseasonably warm weather following the first outbreak of frosts and snow. Some years can have several periods of Indian Summer, some will not.
Remember this? - Starting on Friday, October 13, 1997 Buffalo, New York was buried under feet of snow following a Lake effect snowstorm which lasted days. The snow closed the city and hundred of thousands were left without power.
Good Blogs to Read:
Vincent di Fondi
On Your Way to the Top
New York's Southern Tier
Urban Veggie Garden