In our St. Paul yard, it came October 22nd.
We had 5 more weeks of growing tomatoes and basil and zucchini than did someone living 25 or 30 miles away. As a gardener, this has to be one of the best reasons for living in the city. I have a growing season that is more akin to that of southern Iowa or Illinois, than that of Minnesota.
There was an article in the Star Tribune about urban heat islands last week. We were having a rare afternoon out with the kids at the Birchwood cafe in Seward, having just thrown together a retaining wall (in three hours, thank you) at our rental property. We were worn out and the kids had been relatively good, so we went to have some cobbler and fizzy fruit drinks. I came across the above article in a paper left behind by someone else. The print edition had a fascinating graphic- a heat map showing the temp difference on September 15 over the entire metro area. Our part of St. Paul was among the warmest. Unfortunately, the online version doesn't seem to have the graphic, so you'll just have to imagine it.
I recall a morning last winter or the winter before waking up early one very cold morning and listening to NPR while I made my coffee. According to the radio, the temperature in Lakeville (about 25 miles south of St. Paul) was -11F. In St. Paul, it was 0. That's a significant difference in quality of life. Especially since I was catching the bus to work. And the fact that there even was a bus to catch to work. Doubt there's one in Lakeville.
So as much as I am supposed to not like the urban heat island as an environmentalist of sorts and regular voter for candidates of the donkey party, I have to admit that I really do.
Five plus extra weeks of fresh tomatoes is hard to argue with. We still have a few green ones ripening on the kitchen windowsill and a batch of fresh salsa in the fridge. I really like extending the fall season. September 15 is too soon to say goodbye to summer food.
|okra pod dried on the plant. next year's seed source.|
So even though I do have a rain garden and rain barrel, and garden organically, I will not be putting a green roof on my garage or reflective pavement on my driveway. I like my urban heat too much. I can understand wanting to mitigate it in Phoenix or LA, or even in New York, but Minneapolis and Saint Paul need all the heat we can get. Yes, this summer was hot (our astilbes never came back from the 103F heat wave) but that's a blip on the radar when compared to the duration and severity of last year's winter. And this one is predicted to be similar- another La Nina according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's long-range forecast for this winter.
|nooooooooooooooo! image from http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov|
I suppose his outlook is more healthy, or at least better adapted to life in Minnesota. And I do enjoy winter for a while. Maybe the first half of it. It's the second half, the part after Xmas and New Year that drags. That causes people to go a bit nuts and drink tequila and go to tanning booths.
Not that I've ever been a tanning booth customer, but I do like getting a little bit of a tan in the back yard. And that's hard to come by in February.
|november's dried-out rain garden|