Partly Cloudy, 100% Chance of Gardening

partly cloudy sculptures

Partly cloudy over the Sierra Nevada range at 6:55 am

This morning was one of those hopeful cloudy mornings where the wind had sculpted miles of clouds into fantasy drawings. It’s rare to get this sort of calm, cloudy, overcast morning out here in the desert, or for the clouds to last much past daybreak if we do.

So at 6:55 a.m., all the signs were in place for it to be a great cloudy gardening day.

Why rejoice at cloudy mornings?

A few reasons for looking forward to cloudy mornings come to mind. The temperature is a bit cooler, the little humidity we get is a bit higher.

The air is standing still, which means not having to chase leaves and seed packets and trash bags down the hill every few minutes.

Cloudy mornings are easier on seedlings waiting to be transplanted. There’s less stress on their leaves, less tension in the roots since they won’t have to stand up to 40 mph gusts.

The ground doesn’t dry out as fast when it’s a cloudy morning. This means there’s less need to keep sprinkling the soil while planting seeds into the ground or hardening off seedlings from indoors to out.

The sun isn’t as blinding on a cloudy morning, which means the dark RayBans can stay indoors for a change and we can enjoy the beauty of the true colors of flowers we’re moving from flat to ground.

We get clouds more often than we used to – or perhaps I’m noticing them more now that I’m gardening. It’s a morning smile, even if it brings rain – even more of a rarity to this part of the desert.

What tasks to save for cloudy mornings?

Keep a list and be prepared, if cloudy mornings are rare in your neck of the woods. Some ideas for your list:

  • Deep soak watering
  • Deadheading flowers and trimming
  • Preparing seedlings for hardening off
  • Seeding vegetables into outdoor rows
  • Mulching and weed blocking
  • Hose and sprinkler repair and rerouting
  • Footpath and stepping stone maintenance
  • Patio and driveway sweeping

Sure, some of these can be done on sunny mornings and quite often are. But some require spending time in the bright light and heat of the high desert – and when it can be 85F by breakfast time, it’s important to schedule outdoor work carefully (and buy lots of sunscreen).

So take advantage of your cloudy mornings when the weather is 100% perfect for a serious gardening session.




Entertaining with gardening defeats

A happy squash until the zombies attacked

With forethought and preparation, gardening tales can rival even the most wildly imaginative fisherman’s campfire yarns or golfer’s 19th hole retellings. Here’s how to turn common gardening defeats and disasters to your entertaining advantage:

You’ve got your Never Saw It Coming Tall Tales:
An avalanche wipes out your burgeoning crop of store-bought seedlings. No, honest. They were goners within minutes. There was nothing I could d- – ok, I forgot to take them out of the back of the truck after I got them home. Driving around for a week with them in the back didn’t help much either.

You’ve got your Completely Unpredictable Eco-Disaster Movie Tall Tales:
A sudden heat wave melts an iceberg which floods out your carefully xeriscaped landscape, toppling garden sheds and uprooting greenhouses, felling well-established redwoods, and rolling your new Dodge RAM pickup into the ravine near the homeste-  Either that or I completely misinterpreted the faded sprinkler system labels, only to discover I’d watered that carefully xeriscaped landscape into a rice paddy by the time we got back from vacation.

You’ve got your Thank Goodness We Had Those Flaming Rakes Tall Tales:
By the light of the Full Moon, a horde of zombies arose from the southern foothills and overtook your property. You were able to stave off the attack by whipping them into submission with a flaming rake, but the crops caught fire an- Ok. No zombies. More likely I planted a big patch of water-hungry veggies in the far corner of the lot, then figured out there’s no nearby water source, and the longest hose we own won’t reach.

You’ve got your We Barely Escaped With Our Zucchini Tall Tales:
Giant rabid yeti-related jackrabbits broken down the carefully constructed antipersonnel barriers around the raised fortress and devoured every bit of greenery in sight, then turned on the less tasty hot tub cover and gnawed it into unrecycle-friendly shredde- All right. After meticulously protecting the patio greenery from bunny attacks by planting in hanging containers, we watch helplessly as the prevailing breeze turns into a week-long gale force, thereby beating the baby zucchini plants into an unrecognizable pulp against a nearby patio pillar.

Guess which one this picture shows. Sorry I couldn’t get any pictures of the yeti jackrabbit, but it was very scary out with all those zombies clomping through the rice paddy after the avalanche.