Let the heat of summer begin

Ray Baird

DOG DAYS 2016: LET THE HEAT OF SUMMER BEGIN! The Dog Days of summer will arrive on Wednesday, July 3, 2016 as the heat begins to bear down upon us and the air conditioner begins its long hot summer of labor. Once of the benefits of Dog Days is that it will promote the ripening of the tomatoes. July begins the summer of the hotties as the humidity continues to rise. The warm soil conditions make a perfect environment to produce warm weather vegetables and promote a huge harvest,

THE FOURTH OF JULY IS THE TURNING POINT OF THE GARDEN: On Monday, we will celebrate July Fourth which is the time warm weather vegetables come to the stage of harvest. If we are not careful, the weeds will overtake the garden during this hot month of the year. Vacations will begin and many garden plots will be neglected and weeds will grow and be allowed to choke out the garden. Before going on vacation till through the garden and also pull up as many weeds as you possibly can and toss them out of the garden. Harvest all vegetables that are ready on the day before leaving on your vacation.

COOL GREEN FERNS ON A DOG DAY AFTERNOON: The Boston fern spreads over the sides of its hanging basket in a beautiful shade of lush green. The asparagus fern laps over its container in shades of light green and getting taller by the day. The panda fern on the back deck is spreading up and out and we have already trimmed it back once this summer. Its thick prickly, greenery looks like a miniature Christmas tree. This fern is four years old and winters in the living room each year. They are good investments because they produce all year and can be shaped and trimmed.

GETTING UP WITH THE SUN ON DOG DAY MORNINGS: Dog Days get hot very early, so if you have lawn or garden work to do it makes good sense to rise from bed before the sun comes up and get your outside chores done before the Dog Day sun bears down and heats everything up. When you finish and have a cool drink you can take a nap to make up for the early rising, while outside, the Dog Day sun blazes away.

THE GRACEFUL FLIGHTS OF THE TIGER SWALLOWTAILS: All day long, the swallowtail butterflies dance from flower to flower in the zinnia bed and the dianthus on the back deck. The yellow wings have blue and orange markings and the black wings have blue, black and orange markings. Both are beautiful as they float from flower to flower all day long.

KEEPING BIRDBATHS FULL ON DOG DAY HEAT BLASTS: The Dog Day sun dries up mud holes and makes it harder for birds to find water. You can make their quest for water much easier and cooler by keeping the bird baths full of water every day. Empty out the old water and fill with fresh water several times a week to prevent insect pests and debris from polluting their water supply.

JULY HEAT AND DOG DAY AFTERNOONS ADD INGREDIENTS TO MAKING COMPOST: As vegetable crops mature, the residue of vines and stalks and grass clippings add solid ingredients to the compost bins and piles but another main ingredient is the heat of the July sun to trigger the needed heat to break down the compost. As the month of July progresses, water may need to be added to the compost.

ADDING COOLNESS TO THE MENU WITH CUCUMBER SLICES: Nothing in July cools off a summer meal like a dish of fresh green cucumber slices fresh from the garden plot. They are easy to prepare and take very little time to get them to the table. All you need to do is wash them in cold water, peel them with the vegetable peeler that you use to peel potatoes with and then slice them in one quarter inch slices and then cover them with ice cubes and let them stay for an hour. Add a 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of ranch dressing to the cucumbers after draining the water and ice cubes. Use about three or four cucumbers. The one quarter inch slices will cause the cucumbers to be crisp and crunchy like pickles.

STILL TIME TO PLANT A ROW OF GREEN BEANS: A crop of green beans will mature in around 65-days and there is more than three months until the first predicted frost, so this gives plenty of time to grow a productive crop of green beans. The best varieties for hot summer garden plots are Top Crop Derby, Tenderette and Strike. During Dog Days, they may need to be watered twice a week if there are no thunderstorms.

SAINT SWITHIN, THE SAINT OF THE SOAKERS: The good news on his special day, which is Friday, July 15, 2016, is that we can expect a downpour which is delightful on a Dog Day afternoon. A mucky tradition which we think will definitely be false, is that rain on his day means forty days of nasty weather. Another old saying that could be true is that on his day, he christens the autumn apple crop.

LOOKING FOR A PATCH OF PIEDMONT BLUEBERRIES: Now that strawberry season has past, can the blue berries be far behind? It takes much longer to pick a bucket of blueberries but they are worth the effort. Even though they cost more, many producers will pick them for you. If you visit the patch to pick, go early before the July sun starts bearing down on you!

THE JULY ALMANAC: The Dog Days of the summer of 2016 will begin tomorrow and we can expect the hotties to begin. Independence Day will be this Monday, July 4, 2016. The new moon of July will also occur at sunset on Monday July 4, 2016. The moon reaches its first quarter on Monday, July 11, 2016. The full moon of July occurs on Tuesday, July 19, 2016 and this moon is named “Full Buck Moon.” The moon reaches its last quarter on Tuesday, July 26, 2016.

A LEGEND FOR A HOT DOG DAY AFTERNOON: This legend states that when dogs eat grass on a Dog Day morning, you can expect rain later in the day. On many Dog Day mornings, we wish for a rain to cool things off! My grandma in Northampton County had her share of dogs around the house and she said that dogs (and cats) eat grass when they are sick. This made plenty of sense because in that day, only the rich took animals like dogs and cats to vets and another fact of that day – only the rich ate turkey!

Ray Baird has been providing gardening tips to the community for years and can be reached at 336-969-9350 or at BSylvia1946@gmail.com.


Ray Baird

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