On the first day of my first planting period, February 7th, NOAA predicted snow.  It didn’t snow — there was just another torrential downpour. After a weekend of high winds and partly cloudy skies, the beds had only dried out to a depth of 3-4 inches by Monday afternoon.  So we pulled out moldy tarps and covered them that evening in hopes that someday they might be dry enough to till in the manure and topsoil that now look like twin pyramids at the entrance to the garden. <heavy sigh>

One year, it rained for 40 days in a row and I never did plant beans. There’s an old saying, “Beans planted in mud/ Taste like wood.” You have to use a Scottish accent to make that rhyme which kind of tips off the saying’s origin. I lived there for a while and can attest to the fact that it rains a lot in Scotland.

All my research, Excel files and graphic layouts — not to mention, the back-aching labor — mean nothing when the weather doesn’t cooperate. As it stands now, we have one bed ready and waiting for asparagus. We have five other beds, partly framed, and waiting for additional topsoil and manure to be tilled into them. All that great effort and renting the digger did not get us ready after all. <another heavy sigh>

In the meantime, we have been obsessing over the pecan tree and adding a staggered row of Leyland Cypress as a wind brake. Would the shadow of the tree really impact the garden once the sun is higher in the sky during the summer months? Would the cypress become a shade problem in five years when they are twenty feet high? DH had me running outside at various hours of the day to measure the shadow cast by a twelve-inch stake. By arcane mathematical formulas, he would then be able to determine the answers to these questions. My mission was thwarted by partly cloudy skies that always covered the sun just as I was attempting to perform my task.

So I googled “landscape shadow calculator” to see if there wasn’t some online source that could give answers when the sun would not. I found a very odd Dutch site concerned with determining the shadow patterns cast by wind turbines. It seems the flickering shadows of the blades can have a detrimental effect on neighbors. This made me look up our exact latitude and longitude but the resulting declination, solar azimuth and altitude measurements didn’t fulfill my need for visual information.

Back to google I went and was surprised to find a listing for a software program, LandDesigner 3D. Good Grief! I had it already! I got it about five years ago when we were planning our gardens at the house back in Georgia. It was in a $9.99 bin at CompUSA and had some wonderful features like showing how big a shrub will be in 5, 10 or 20 years. It’s very clunky and difficult to use so after becoming increasingly frustrated with it, I uninstalled it and tossed it into a box of computer games I no longer play. Since we had recently moved, I actually knew where this box was.

It’s still a tedious program and it took the better part of an afternoon to set up a simple layout showing the gardens beds, the pecan tree and the intended cypress hedge. But, once done, using the Shadow Simulator is almost hypnotic. You can watch the shadows move thru the course of a particular day, watch them change over the course of year, grow the plants by years and play it all again.

The good news is the pecan tree only impacts the garden beds for 2 hours during the early spring and late fall. It casts no shade on the beds between the first of May and the last of October. Yay! We don’t have to cut it down and the cypress hedge doesn’t intrude for 30 years.

As I wrote this on Wednesday afternoon, NOAA was predicting partly cloudy days and no showers thru the weekend. Weather.com, however, was predicting a 30% chance of snow on Saturday. This morning they are both predicting a 30% chance of snow in the middle of today.  So, after posting this, I’m on standby to drag those tarps over the beds again. DH hopes to come home after work today and till at least one bed, another on Friday evening and one more on Saturday. Hopefully, I’ll have a partly cloudy day next week to actually put some seeds in the ground.

So, tell me, what weather-related garden disasters, frustrations and/or mishaps have you suffered?

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