Thursday, December 31, 2015

It’s New Year’s eve, one last opportunity for a post during 2015. I may as well take advantage of it.

From December 26 through 28, we had one of the heaviest rainstorms in St. Louis’ history. As much as 9 to 10 inches of rain fell across portions of the metropolitan area, oriented in a band running roughly northeast to southwest. We were within that band, as was the official weather station. As a result three new rainfall records were set, one for the most rain on any day in December (4.87 inches on the 26th, which is the third highest daily rainfall total measured for St. Louis), one for the most rainfall in the month of December (11.74 inches), and one for the highest yearly rainfall (61.24 inches in 2015). With the soil wet to start, almost all the rain ran off into the rivers, creating major to record flooding. The Meramec River, which defines the southern border of St. Louis County, was especially hard hit, with several locations on the river in St. Louis County breaking their old crest records, set back in December 1982. Interestingly, it was the 1982 crest which inundated Times Beach, one of the towns along the Meramec, spreading dioxin-contaminated road dirt all over the town and prompting its eventual demise. Back to this year ... three separate interstate highways had closures this morning due to floodwaters on the roads. One of the local meteorologists says that’s a first. Luckily we live on high ground, far from all those issues.

But in other ways we are as affected by the weird El Nino winter weather as everyone else. The photo at the top shows that our earliest daffodil leaves are already growing. I would not be surprised if this happened in January. In fact it is typical for some daffodil leaves to show up above ground sometime during January when the soil has a chance to thaw. But I cannot remember seeing daffodil leaves in December before. The soil hasn’t frozen yet and it shouldn’t for at least another week given the forecast and how wet it is (as water freezes it gives off heat). I still have mustard greens and arugula in the garden, which we’ll be eating now that we’ve eaten all of the stored bok choy.

Speaking of the garden, the next post will begin my recap of our garden year. For now, suffice it to say that overall it was the best ever. Give me a couple more weeks and you can read all about it. And a few more weeks after that, I’ll let you know what the garden and I will be discussing in 2016.

A very happy New Year to all of you!


  1. Hi Claire,

    Thanks for this blog entry. Wow! What a lot of rainfall. At least El Nino's are favourable for you from that point of view. But clearly they also bring the heat for you as things are about 1 month early down here too. Late June Daffodils would be early. Correct that - very early.

    Sorry to hear about the flooding. You may be interested to know that in the summer of 1982/83 when your part of the world was flooding - there were monster fires here (Ash Wednesday bushfires). Clearly there is a correlation.

    Aragula and mustards are awesome greens (which have sadly come to an end here for the season). Enjoy. You may be interested to know that perennial rocket is very heat and dry hardy and a worthy green in addition to French Sorrell (which I'm not very keen on) and perennial spinach - which is actually a silverbeet. Just some plants to keep in mind as things get warmer - as I suspect they will.

    All the best and I'm glad to read that you live on higher ground.

    PS: That rainfall was about 6 inches higher than the wettest year here and I'd never seen so much rainfall before, so I can't imagine what your place would be like. The work that you have done with your soils should pay off for you in such conditions.



    1. Hi Chris! From what the climatologists say in the US, El Nino years typically bring warm, wet weather to the US Midwest and East. And they also bring fires to your part of the world, so there is definitely a correlation.

      Meanwhile, we are getting a taste of winter, although so far that has meant about average temperatures, which are around 40F highs and 24F lows. Apparently we will get real winter by late weekend and into next week. But farther out, the talk is that warmth could come back by late this month or early February.

      I don't think any of the rockets are perennial here, and I've tried the perennial spinach, AKA perpetual chard, and it didn't survive winter here either. Sorrel does survive the winter, and I enjoy a little in salads. I should pick some of the leaves off my plants before the cold wave hits.

  2. Hi, Claire!

    Goodness - and we think that we get a lot of rain! 9-10 inches is just horrible. I am so glad that you are on high ground. I suspect that it was not just luck that put you there.

    Our daffodils have been up for several weeks. I am really curious to see if they bloom this month. We have mustard greens, kale, and a bit of collards and lettuce. A lot of "weeds" growing, too, which I eat. Also the biggest radishes I've ever seen, anywhere. They are like turnips! I left a group of these fall-planted ones on purpose to see how they would fare. Apparently, they like this weather! Waiting to see if they'll bloom; I'd like some of their seed.

    Am planning my seed orders right now. We save most seeds, but always want to try a few new things. Like perpetual spinach!


    1. Hi Pam! You are quite correct that we made sure to be on high ground. I've seen enough flash and river flooding to know I don't want any part of it. Also we don't live on low ground below a dammed pond in a subdivision. Any time we get flash flooding I am thankful once again that we don't have to worry about any dam breaking.

      I've been reading the seed catalogs and have this year's garden plan nearly worked out. Once I look over the seed inventory, I'll be ready to decide what to order. I save some seeds but buy a lot as well.

  3. Claire:

    I just went out to check on the daffodils, as it has been several days: some of them have large buds.


    1. Wow - it must be a really warm winter where you are! None of the daffs whose leaves are up here are anywhere near bud stage yet.