Eugene Weekly : It’s About Time : 6.2.11

By David Wagner

Solstice comes every June like clockwork, this year the 21st, a consequence of the orbit of a planet with a tilted axis. So regular is this traditional beginning of summer it is easy to forget that normal is disjunct from average when trying to understand the weather pattern of a particular year.

As unusual as it may seem, this dismal late spring is normal. We need to remember that a normal year is not an average year. Weather in a normal year is under the control of factors that preclude presentation of an average year.

This years lingering cold and wet spring is a bane to gardeners who want to get their summer garden moving along. Not yet, my friends. We are having a La Ni¿a year. Our typical La Ni¿a pattern is wet, cool weather that lasts through spring into early summer. It is definitely not average, but just as definitely normal.A knowledgeable friend says dont think about planting tomatoes until July 5! And I normally want to plant by the end of May.

Extended rain means more slugs and snails in the garden. Whether drowning them in pie tins of beer or using slug bait, its wise to keep guard for them. Like the pill bugs and earthworms, the garden slugs and snails are not native. Almost all the urban pests are exotic, even the red squirrels. The eastern fox squirrel has displaced the native gray squirrel in all parts of town except the heavily wooded parks.

David Wagner is botanist who lives and works in Eugene. He teaches moss classes and leads nature walks. He may be reached at