mprats(z6NJ Plainfield)August 7, 2005

Is anyone else frustrated about the lack of rain? I guess we were blessed last summer because I did not have to water the lawn even once, but it has not rained here in three weeks and even my forsythia is drooping. All neighboring lawns are brown.

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jerseygirl07603 z6NJ

Yes, frustrated and getting nervous. A few towns in Bergen County have started restricting water usage - these are towns that rely on well water. But the rest will follow suit pretty soon if we don't get some good rain. I re-routed a gutter from the house to run into a "rain barrel". If there are restrictions I have a small supply for the most needy plants. It's just gotta rain soon!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2005 at 10:23PM
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We were lucky enough to get some rain last Thursday. My rain barrels were empty, but filled up quickly. The heavy duty trash cans make great water barrels, and I got the taps from Lee Valley. I love my ad hoc rain barrels, and hate paying for water. Most of my soil drains extremely well, so I will need to water tonight unless some passing thundershower helps me out. I am about ready to give up on the annuals, and concentrate the water on the garden and newly planted perrenials and shrubs. I still have a few plants in pots, waiting for a good, wet week to plant them.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2005 at 8:13AM
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Loretta NJ Z6

Yes, I feel restrictions are coming as well if nothing happens soon. Even the few rainstorms we had didn't penetrate much. I have a few scorched plants and my forsythia is drooping as well.
We always wanted to do the rain barrel thing. On my list of things to do.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2005 at 8:39PM
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mprats(z6NJ Plainfield)

I am thinking of getting a rain barrel next year as well.
It rained here a tiny bit today but it was barely enough to penetrate the soil. But I was in Lebanon, NJ this morning (about 30 min. away from here) and it rained quite hard there.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2005 at 10:03PM
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Birdsong72(7/Northshore NJ)

Water or lack thereof will become a larger issue as we move into the future. Water does not grow on trees but try telling to that to most of us, who think it's an bottomless resource.

As for the lawns getting brown, there's not much sympathy I can give to that wasteful commodity. It does nothing in terms of expiration into the atmosphere etc. beginning the chain of conversion to rain.

It will only get worse as time goes on. After all, we've already "ruined" the water table as there's very little that gets filtered back into groundwater.....most of it now running off of hardscapes, lawns, etc into storm sewers.

Now Jeeves. Take my soapbox away as I've said my piece. Plant sustainable, native landscapes whenever you can. There's hnothing to be gained in keeping up with the Jones's or being consistent with your neighhbors landscaping gestalt. Do the right thing.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2005 at 2:48PM
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njtea(NJ Z6)

But first - well done, Birdsong72.

Now to my suggestion: Over the weekend, let's all lug large buckets of water to our furthest shrubs, a couple of buckets on each will probably suffice to make it rain by Monday or Tuesday. It never fails to work for me; it's even better than getting the car washed.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2005 at 7:11PM
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JerseyJohn61(z6b NJ)

In the New Brunswick area its' been really bad all summer. 9 times out of 10 showers have passed us by. The radar showing storms north, south, east, west, but scarcly a drop to be had here. Its' become a bad joke. We darn near need a tropical system heading our way.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2005 at 10:16PM
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njtea(NJ Z6)

I just looked at Accuweather for my location in Hunterdon County - and I'm informed that it's raining here! It's almost 12:30 p.m. and the sun is shining.

I also note that the Weather Channel has decreased the probability of rain from 60% to 50%.

I know the prediction of weather is not an exact science, but how can they be so wrong so often?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2005 at 12:25PM
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njtea(NJ Z6)

And now the Weather Channel is telling me there's thunder here - it's still sunny.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2005 at 4:07PM
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jerseygirl07603 z6NJ

Well, we got a good soaking rain last night. Finally. Hope you all did too.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2005 at 9:04AM
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njtea(NJ Z6)

Unfortunately, not much rain here at all. It seems that a line along the I-78 corridor didn't get more than 1/4".

This morning I was at my daughter's house in Bridgewater on the Watchung ridge and was appalled by the condition of the witchhazel there - the leaves are turning brown and falling off. She didn't get much rain last night and neither did my son in Basking Ridge.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2005 at 12:33PM
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I am near Bridgewater. It has been extremely frustrating! As mentioned above, there have been storms all around but they missed us! We did get a little rain Sunday night but not nearly what is needed. "Chance of storms" yesterday and today seem to be missing us, and the next couple days are supposed to be sunny (but at least not quite as hot!).
I don't care too much if the lawn goes dormant, but I have to spend time and money watering to keep various shrubs alive.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 10:35AM
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JerseyJohn61(z6b NJ)

Thank you JerseyGirl for the well wishes but, I'm with Mpbrats and Woodnative. The upper Central Jersey area : that is : Plainfeild, Bridgewater, New Brunswick locales have been all but bone-dry since early June. All of Sunday's storms gave my rain gauge .2 1nches of rain.
Like all summer long when storms have rolled in, folks north and south have had flash flood warnings; here in central, we have had hardly a flash of lightning let alone rain.
I'm starting to wonder if the eastern air-flow from the Raritan Bay inlet some how interfers with thunderstorms comming from the west. I know it sounds wacky but, I've noticed several storms on RADAR falling apart over the last several years as they have approached the area. Just a strong thought.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 11:24PM
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njtea(NJ Z6)

I've noticed the same thing, JerseyJohn61 - the storms drying up - but as they hit the Delaware - I thought it might have something to do with that river and/or the topography of that area.

I'm in Hunterdon County and have had a bit more rain than you guys, but not much more.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 8:05AM
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Nothing in the shape of rain here either, and yesterday I saw something I haven't seen in 30 plus years of gardening. I wanted to put in some Swiss Chard, and when I pulled the thick permanent hay mulch aside (the hay itself was moist) the soil underneath was pretty dry. Between no rain and tree root competition, this has been a pretty bad year.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 9:54AM
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JerseyJohn61(z6b NJ)

NJTea....... Darn we are on the same page! I thought I was the only "nut" who for the past 10 + years noticed and griped when I saw strong lines of storms approach from the west; only to see them dissolve when the hit the Delaware.

Yeah, geography maybe playing apart. It needs to be looked into more. Great eye and discernment. And thanks for reassuring my sanity. LOL.

Yup Mulchwoman, Metuchen is certainly in the heart of the dryness. Between the heat, humidity and lack of precip., 2004 sure seems like Paradise-Lost. OHH, for those days of average temps. and ample rainfall. .......(SIGH).


    Bookmark   August 18, 2005 at 1:01AM
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njtea(NJ Z6)

JJ61 - my soulmate! It's nice to know that one is not alone in the world. :)


    Bookmark   August 18, 2005 at 5:00PM
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JerseyJohn61(z6b NJ)

That's a big 10-4 NJT. Thanks.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2005 at 11:02PM
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Birdsong72(7/Northshore NJ)

Storm lines via fronts (especially weak fronts that one sees in Summer) oftentimes dissipate not because of the Delaware R. but the Appalachian range's "presence".

Cold fronts are often weakened, dissipating and losing much of their strength as they come into contact with that mountain range.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2005 at 4:00PM
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njtea(NJ Z6)

True, Birdsong - but if you'd been around as long as I, you'd remember the strong summer storms that would clear out the air and bring in beautiful dry, cool weather before the next buildup of heat arrived. The mountains did not dry out those storms. That doesn't happen any more.

As you suggested, these seem to be weak cold fronts that are dried out by the time they get over the mountains, leaving us in a rain shadow. Global warming in action?

However, I do believe it is that last ridge created by the river that is the storm killer; if that were not there we'd be getting some rain.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2005 at 8:53PM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

Wanted to pop in from across the river as I also have been monitoring for some time like you guys... And based on my observations (and something I recall reading recently) - over the past 20 years or so, the growth around metro Philly has been somewhat phenomenal in terms of construction (population shifts notwithstanding). Eg., all the skyscrapers downtown built since the height restriction was lifted in 1984 (upwards of 3 dozen or more that are 33 stories or higher)... The presence of all these buildings has in fact impacted the energy usage here where daily during this latest series of heatwaves, PECO has been breaking usage records (with > 8300 MW) - mainly due to cooling of these new towers (and of course that hot exhaust gets pumped into the surrounding air, heating it up even more). NYC has also broken its previous record with >12300 MW consumed during a day in the recent heatwaves. And it seems that what storms manage to survive coming across the Appalachians and that manage to still have some punch left after going through the far western Philly suburbs, have the potential to explode over the city with some pretty freaky rain events (eg., last August, for 2 weeks in a row, my neighborhood got upwards of 4" - 6" of rain in an hour causing some major flooding in the surrounding area, washing out of roads, and huge sink holes. And after this sort of thing, the juice can get knocked out of the storms and/or whatever's left will become isolated cells that divert well north or south of the city as they cross the river.

Regarding what I read - there have been many postulations about whether urban heatsinks were actually exasperating certain storms and impacting how they progress. I know there are a number of papers and comments about this out on the 'net and I really do think that the existence of what weather.com has often dubbed the "megalopolis" of the NE corridor - Boston, NYC, Philly, and D.C. (and their ever-expanding 'burbs with all the development construction), has majorily impacted the climate along the northern and central atlantic coastal plain. If anything, a few years ago there were reports that this area was experiencing an increase in the average frost-free period by something like 11 or so days - with the bulk being in the fall and I think alot of that has to do with the heatsink effect.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2005 at 8:12PM
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mprats(z6NJ Plainfield)

Wow, it's good to find empathy here (in spite of the finger wagging from a single post).

We finally got some rain yesterday (Friday Aug. 20) for the first time in over four weeks!

I wonder if this dry period will affect the amount of blooms we'll see next spring... I definitely noticed that this spring was magnificent in terms of flowering trees. Right now I already see signs of stress in some trees.

Perhaps Central NJ has a weather system of its own? I am told that sometime in the 1990's, a tornado ripped through Plainfield only, tearing down countless old trees, including two maples on my property.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2005 at 12:20AM
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njtea(NJ Z6)

Jenny - that's very interesting and I'll bet there's a lot of validity to it.

Not to harp on "the good old days" when I was young, but back then we had all-day gentle rain events - I can remember playing on the front porch during the rain and being in bed at night listening to the rain falling. Those things just don't happen any more. As mprats suggested, our rain events now are more like short-lived deluges.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2005 at 1:12PM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

Yeah... I remember those good old fashioned "rainy days". I think those come more in the spring and fall, although lately, the falls have been drier, punctuated by deluges from the remnants of hurricanes and tropical storms! :-o


    Bookmark   August 22, 2005 at 9:10AM
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Birdsong72(7/Northshore NJ)

Those 'good old summer rainy days' are nostalgic at best. What you may remember as the common 'summer rains storms' keeping you on the porch were not much different from what we have today (in terms of frequency, etc.) Weather is cyclic. And while arguments can be made that we've already begun to tilt the balance of weather ever so slowly, one would have to go back to NOAA archives, etc. to 'really see' if things have changed as much as you folks surmise.

To me, the few posts above waxing nostalgia are just that.

Nostalgia: an abdication of memory.

NOW. If you want to talk dry NOW. I'll buy into it. It's dry. Though help is on the way. Brown Lawns, eh? I could care less pratsie ol boy.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2005 at 12:16PM
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njtea(NJ Z6)

And how old are you Birdsong?

From Greenpeace:

"There is already significant evidence suggesting that the world's rain patterns are changing, and , on the whole, the world is becoming a wetter place. An examination of sites with long term (90 year) precipitation records in North America, western Europe and Australia concluded that decadal to multi-decadal precipitation is becoming more variable. An examination of day-to-day precipitation variability found a shift to more extreme precipitation events in the United States."

    Bookmark   August 29, 2005 at 9:16AM
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Birdsong72(7/Northshore NJ)

Tea ol boy or ol girl. I did participate in the first Earth Day back in '70 as a senior in HS. You do the math as to my age. FWIW, I live everyday as if it were Earth Day as well. Have been doing for some time.

Now....We're talking about aggregate rainfall amounts here. Has it changed that dramatically? I don't think so. Has weather changed??? Yes. Definitely so.

It's scary to see how weather is changing (in our lifetimes) unless one's a Bushkevite and will argue to the contrary ad nauseum.

I just have no sympathy with brown lawns in July & August. Lawns are a wasteful appendage on most everyone's properties. Yes, they have a place recreationaly; but to see the water resources that are wasted on them most of the year (only to be cut, time and time again. 2x a week in wet periods...to me is over the top); to have all of those chemicals dispensed and then the subsequent little signs urging children & pets to "stay off"..........well. Tell me what THAT IS ALL ABOUT. Isn't there enough information out there? Or do these folks have common stock in Monsanto, etc.? ....

The FARCE of all of this is that you never see anyone on these lawns. NEVER!!!!! IT'S FOR SHOW,....It's keeping up with the Jones's Syndrome....or is John Q. Public that "clueless"

Baaahhhhhhhhhh. Why even bother.

Here's an even better one:

"I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
quite overcanopied with lucious woodbine,
with sweet musk-roses and with eglantine."
-King of the Fairies to Puck
Midsummer Night's Dream

^^^that place, well, that's heaven", not that Field of Dreams or 18th Hole that suburbia endeavors to emulate.

End of story.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2005 at 4:41PM
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njtea(NJ Z6)

I still have two decades on you....

and you're preaching to the choir here, my friend.

Actually, it's thought that in recent years we might be getting more rain that in the past, it's not "useful" rain. It's rain that comes down in buckets and runs right off into the streets, gutters, etc., etc., etc. It doesn't fall gently allowing it to soak into the soil.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2005 at 5:12PM
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Birdsong72(7/Northshore NJ)

Tea. Age is relative. There's a reason that 'buckets of rain' run off properties. If you look around 99.9% of properties, they're predominately impervious. And grass (as hard as concrete when it gets dry) is part of that problem along with extensive gargantuan driveways (that are pitched to the street and not into adjoining gardens away from the foundation), patios, etc. etc.

As for preaching to the choir, maybe not you. But the majority out there remain uninformed relative to the alternatives. They want that green perfect lawn. They want perfection. Nature AIN'T perfect. You know that. I know that. But that's what is SOLD to them via the media, just like "thin" is SOLD, or Beer is Sold.

My downspouts run into oak leaf littered beds (that's my mulch, and I live in the suburbs, surrounded by pedestrian landscapes in a BEAUTIFUL, I mean Truly BEAUTIFUL neighborhood with hundreds of oaks). What rain falls and makes it to the ground (from my 80' oaks) ALSO fall into garden beds.

Solution????? Do away with most of the grass on one's property. That would be a start. I don't expect so when it's a $20B/year industry. I haven't watered much in the way of my gardens this year (relying on rain that fell prior to this dry spell) and only recently watering those plants that needed it. All of my plantings, save a few ornamentals, are self-sustaining.

See, I've had to water some of the garden that lies on the south side of my property of late. A lacecap hydrangea has needed much more watering than in the past. Some perrenials are needing water. Why???? Dopey neighbors who took down 3 oaks and then there neighbors who took down another 2 themselves. Gone is the dappled sunlight that my South Garden prospered under.

Otherwise, the natives (while somewhat stressed) will survive. It's no different than if one took a walk in the woods today....a bit stressed, but they will survive.

It's the CHEAP CHEAP stuff, that can be grown fast and brought to market that needs all the watering. They provide nothing for wildlife (being predominately sterile in terms of food opps, etc) and grow so darn quick when planted, I feel like I'm in the Edward Scissorhands movie sometimes. Viwing Lollipopped and after Lollipopped shrub after shrub

Tell me NJTea. Who's going to be planting the "new generation" of Forest trees (oaks, tulips, beech)????? Or will the planet survive on eyunomous, junipers, and yews?

That's my finger wagging as the gentleman from Plainfield alluded to. Can you help him with his brown lawn? Or has the remnants of Katrina 'soothed his pain'?

I will not go "gently into that night" even two decades hence. Someone's got to 'shake up' the status quo.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2005 at 11:20AM
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njtea(NJ Z6)

Ain't gonna have no oaks (beeches and tulips maybe) if you don't get rid of the deer, Birdsong. Alas no remnants of Katrina made it up here to Hunterdon - well, a bit but not nearly enough.

I've watered only sporadically; perennials need to become conditioned to sparse water. Interestingly, I have volunteer Lobelia cardinalis growing and flowering on a sunny, very dry slope in complete contravention of the prevailing belief that they need moist soil and part shade.

I was asked to water the gardens at work this past week. Now the person who asked me to do this didn't seem to understand that I have a full-time job and don't really have the time to spend watering many large gardens, dragging 75' of hose from place to place. I did water a bit, all the time thinking: why is it so imperative that these gardens get watered; they are well mulched and, hopefully, they survived with the little rain that fell over the weekend. (I've not been at work to look for a couple of days.)

Although it's too late for you, Birdsong, you might suggest to your town fathers that they consider a tree ordinance: you can't take down a tree without a permit and you need a darned good reason to get a permit.

I feel your pain - fortunately, I don't have close neighbors to do that to me. Well, not true. My one neighbor hired a tree guy to clear his power lines - and took down two of my trees before I discovered it and stopped it. Neighbor was very upset with me that I wouldn't let him clear his power lines by removing my trees.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2005 at 2:08PM
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mprats(z6NJ Plainfield)

No birdsong, my "pain" does not come from the brown lawn.

My "pain" comes from the 50 beech saplings I planted in my garden last year and the 8 columnar hornbeams and 1 chestnut sapling I planted this spring. I am struggling to keep them alive because of the lack of rain.

My "pain" also comes from trying to keep alive the new beds of perennials I established in my garden this spring because I am trying to reduce the size of my lawn.

My "pain" also comes from the fact that the city of Plainfield itself cut down about 15 honey locusts downtown as part of their effort to "renew" this economically depressed town, and neighbors chop down trees that have been here for more than 100 years in order to have more light to grow roses.

I hear what you say, but I think your anger and frustration should be directed at the lawns forum.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2005 at 10:43PM
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Birdsong72(7/Northshore NJ)

If I went over to the Lawns Forum, I'd be banished from GardenWeb in less than 24 hours. :^). If I look at your "profile", you appear to be a grower of many variety of roses. They must be doing fabulously in this weather; instead you lament, you cry for your lawn.

Take a look around at the 99%+ of all properties. Imagine how much more beautiful NJ would be if we cut out just 50% of the grass, and implemented (and planted) more trees, shrubs, etc? I'm not saying cut it all out; Just begin to removing a portion of what is most definitely a labor intensive, water guzzling, need my chemicals LAWN mentality.

With that we can then remove the spectre of folks having to call their EAP when they get plantain, dandelions etc. in their lawn. ;^)

Keep up the good work, but in all honesty, you could've "LED" with the difficulities you're having in keeping your saplings, etc watered. When arid conditions persist as we've encountered, I have NO, NO sympathy for the lawn people.

That's the basis of my "directness" (anger, definitely NO, unless I come up against a lawn zealot; frustration, YES. Frustration as to misdirected priorities). But I AM DIRECT. ALWAYS WILL BE.

Have a nice day. And you as well as I will continue to "hand water" those things that require watering this week as no precip is in the forecast.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2005 at 9:57AM
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I live in a neighborhood that is still dry here in sept. It is all pinelands with lots of trees, biggest argument had with husband was less grass was better. The Pinelands take care of themselves you dont have mow, water or clean up after them like grass. Drives me bonkers when folks take every single tree off the property and plant grass and end up with a weed field instead. This may be the garden state but it takes alot of H2O to get my garden to grow in the sand. At least it has some gray clouds today maybe today it will rain.

BTW this is from some one that has a horse pasture and grass is very important to me. Been a great year to make hay so go figure. Just a bit more rain once a week or every 10 days would help. Keep looking at those huricanes and wondering if this is how we will catch up on our rain fall inthe area.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2005 at 8:12AM
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I can't believe what just happened here in Plainfield today.We not only got the first real significant rain in what seems like eternity, but it was a frog strangler for almost three hours! My Weather Channel rain gauge says we got 4.65 inches of rain, and I believe it. As bad as I've felt for myself and all other gardeners, I've felt really bad for the trees in the woods and the old oaks, beeches and sweet gums in the neighborhoods. Well those trees and everything else in Union Co. is whistling dixie tonight after that big drink!

    Bookmark   September 14, 2005 at 8:57PM
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Birdsong72(7/Northshore NJ)

5 minutes of rain here at the shore. Negligible impact/ground is still bone dry. There's always hope for today or tomorrow.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2005 at 8:39AM
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JerseyJohn61(z6b NJ)

Yea!!!...... We got our first appriciable rain yesterday in 2 months. Just under 4 inches here in Somerset. Was so thrilled I walked around the block in it at its' height. Got soaked! It was wonderful. The trees have be hurting as the Sycamores around town have lost at least half their leaves. Its a shame the growing season for many veggies is past its' prime.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2005 at 9:56PM
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