Flash flood

sump pump


While I was away from home last week working in the northern Minnesota woods a powerful storm swept across the state late Monday afternoon. It brought heavy rains, hail, lightning, strong winds, even a few tornadoes. Within a few hours almost a foot of rain fell in my town which caused flash floods. Then the power went out because of a lightning strike which also fried the sump pump in my basement. Soon there was 18 inches of water covering the floor. Fortunately, the only thing damaged by water was the water heater and the damage was minor. I did loose some cardboard boxes, a dehumidifier, and a few bags of old onions.

Family members came over replaced the sump pump and called someone to fix the water heater. They hauled out some of the soggy debris, too. So a “thank you” to all of them.

I was deep in the woods when this was happening. The rain and wind there were heavy but I got out just as they started. Back at camp my tent held up and kept me dry. The next day the sun was out and the skies blue and it was back to work in the woods.

I had planned to use my weekend off painting more of my house and weeding in the garden. Instead, I was hauling out wet old boxes, soggy onions, and buying two new dehumidifiers. For awhile it looked like the basement would dry out but last night a circuit tripped and the new sump pump shut off. Now the basement is wet again and I have spent the early morning hours sweeping water across the floor to the sump.

There is some good news: the weather forecast for next week is warm and sunny. I hope that while I am gone working on another project that all will be well here.

Garden progress


Spring up here has been a series of mild days punctuated by bouts of cold, almost winter-like weather and occasional days of hot weather. This weekend it feels like winter, there was even a dusting of snow, and the overnight lows are in the mid-30’s and upper-20s. That makes it a little difficult to put out tomatoes and peppers so they remain indoors under lights.

Officially, we are in a drought which began during the winter and that may continue into summer. The rest of May is forecast to be warm and dry but with small chances of thunderstorms. In the meantime I continue to plant and get the rest of the garden ready.

I planted about 250 feet of yellow Stugarter onions and 100 feet of potatoes (Ozette and Purple Peruvian) on April 14 because back then the weather was so warm and it seemed that it would continue that way. Soon cooler weather returned but that did not seriously affect the onions or potatoes and both have emerged above the soil. The rest of the potatoes will go in on Monday.

At about the same time I planted the onions and potatoes the garlic started to poke through the mulch. Now the plants have 4 to 5 leaves. About two weeks later the first shallots and bunching onions emerged above the soil. Rhubarb appeared early and has continued to grow. It seems way ahead of last year’s crop and I will start harvesting next week.

The first batch of chard, beet, parsnips, beets, kale, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower was planted last week. No rain of any consequence is forecast and even though they are mulched I will have to water them if anything is to germinate.

Promise of rain

Storm on its way


Friday the temperature reached 90° F (32° C) an unusual high so early in the season. When the weather gets hot like that pop up thunderstorms often occur and can bring a lot of rain in a few minutes. The local weather forecast predicted that but my place was on the edge of the band of thunderstorms and only a trace of rain fell here. A few rainy days are predicted for the rest of the coming week. Rain and high humidity are needed as we are under an “extreme” fire watch meaning fires can start and spread quickly.

Sort of winter already



Yesterday the high temperature was 50 degrees and today it is just above freezing. A little snow fell during the day which has been very dark and cloudy. The winds from the northwest only add to the cold feeling. Tomorrow will bring more cold, very little sunshine, and plenty of wind. Probably should start wearing gloves now.

Storm coming

storm clouds trees
Stormy weather moving in this afternoon.


There’s a storm coming that will sweep across southern Minnesota and continue east to Wisconsin and beyond. So far it looks like it will miss where I live. But not everything is going to be fine. In the next several hours a cold front will move down from Canada. Our temperatures will drop about 30 degrees and stay that way for at least a week. I just hope it doesn’t rain tonight as predicted since there is also a chance of freezing rain and snow. Slushy snow mixed with rain could freeze onto my roof and stay there all winter making it difficult to clean off snow that will come later in the season.

So far we’ve gotten three inches of rain in that many days and that is too much. The ground is soaked and my sump pump is coming on every 2.75 minutes. The rain has also raised the river just above its flood stage and the water has spread out a few hundred feet on either side. This may pose problems next spring when all the winter snow melts and has no place to go.

On top of all this the furnace part has not arrived.

Weird frost


There was frost after all the other night. I noticed late yesterday it hit a single ornamental gourd plant and only on some parts of some leaves. For a few minutes at least the air around this plant was at or slightly below freezing. Only twenty feet away is a row of scallopini squash completely untouched. Weird but not an uncommon experience here. I have had whole rows of basil freeze in June while the next row went unscathed. It is hard to explain the peculiar micro-weather here. Other than the selective freezing of a few gourd leaves the night of September 11/12 passed uneventfully. Sunday morning’s weather was also warm at 45 degrees for a low and the day got warmer as the sun rose higher with a maximum of 80 degrees.

The garden keeps growing but it’s mostly cole crops now like kale and cabbage. I’m still waiting for my main broccoli and cauliflower crop to do something. So far none have headed and I wonder if the summer heat wave affected them. A long mild autumn might do the trick for them.

I’m still harvesting corn. Yesterday I got the last of the Dakota Ivory shucked and on a table to dry in the sun. The Painted Mountain is one-quarter done but it could be left standing a few more days with no harm. I’ve harvested some sweet corn and have about thirteen pounds of kernels in the freezer. Maybe that’s enough. I want to leave some to dry for parching corn.

The tomatoes were spared from the frost. They are under a sheet that will hold in the heat at night and hasten ripening. It is so good to not have to rush around picking wheelbarrow loads of green tomatoes and then spread them all over the house to ripen.


Tomato tent being blown away.
Tomato tent being blown away by a south wind.


Winter squash is just about ready to cut from the vines. It wasn’t bothered by any frost. Had that happened I would have to cut all the fruits off and check them for damage. I’m waiting for the stems that attach the fruits to the vines to yellow. When that happens the fruit is ripe and will last longer in storage.