Dog days of July heat up

Ray Baird

TOMORROW IS SAINT SWITHIN’S DAY: This is the day he is supposed to come to christen the apple crop of autumn. Saint Swithin is also known as the Saint of the Soakers and legend says that if it rains on his day, we can expect forty days of nasty weather. We know this will not happen for three reasons: 1) This is July and Dog Days are still here. 2) Saint Swithin does not have that kind of power. 3) Only God is in control of the weather.

ENJOYING JULY’S “FULL BUCK MOON:” There could be a fourth reason why Saint Sewithin’s legend cannot be true. That is so that we can see and enjoy the Full Buck Moon that rises next Tuesday night at twilight. We need a clear, rainless night in order to enjoy this lunar delight.

KEEPING FEEDERS AND BIRDBATHS FILLED: The hot Dog Days sun of July heats the water in the baths and needs fresh cool water every evening to allow the birds a fresh cool drink before they nest for the night. Keep food in the feeders and fresh water in the baths to keep the lawn bird-friendly.

FLYING COMBAT AT THE HUMMINGBIRD FEEDERS: There is always plenty of action at the feeders and we are not talking just about a feeding frenzy, but a fight to see which bird will control the feeder! There’s plenty of food and plenty of feeding ports, but it seems all the birds want control, so they spend a lot of energy from the food they obtain just battling each other. If they fight like that all the way to Mexico every autumn, we often wonder how they ever make that journey.

CHECKING THE JAPANESE BEETLE AND HIS DAMAGE: We hope this will not be an epidemic year for them, but we are keeping our eyes out for them and keeping traps and bait ready in case they arrive. We check for evidence of their arrival at rose bushes and grape vines. If they arrive, they always attack first on the roses. If there are not many beetles, they can be controlled with an application of liquid Sevin Spray. But, if they reach epidemic proportions, we will need to put out beetle traps as another precaution. They are definitely one of the worst garden pests.

A THUNDERSTORM ON A DOG DAY AFTERNOON: The leaves are turned inward on the mighty oaks as they look forward to an afternoon thunderstorm. A humid Dog Days afternoon can trigger an afternoon storm. The foliage on summer vegetable crops also folds in expectation of a cooling thunderstorm to quench their thirst. We humans look to the skies and hope and pray for a good and beneficial rain in the form of a summer thunderstorm, which can turn out to be the lifeblood of the summer garden plot as it brings a fresh aroma to the human skin.

THE CHRISTMAS CACTUS THRIVES ON FRONT PORCH: The cactus have been performing well on the semi-sunny location on the porch as they enjoy the early morning sunrise. They have overrun their pots and cascade down the sides of their racks. Their secret to full bloom in late November and early December is their summer vacation on the porch. They only need a drink of water once a week and a shot of liquid fertilizer every ten days.

TOMATO BREAD PUDDING FOR A MID-SUMMER TREAT: The tomato crop is now reaching its peak of ripeness and there are more ways to use them than a tomato sandwich or a bowl of soup. You can make

a tomato bread pudding for a summer desert. They are easy to prepare and you can use fresh or canned tomatoes. You will need ten or twelve fresh tomatoes that are cored, peeled and stewed or mashed up. You can also use a quart (32-oz) of canned tomatoes. Use twelve slices of bread or six hot dog rolls crumbled into small pieces. Add three-eggs, one and a quarter-cups sugar, one teaspoon of salt, one teaspoon of vanilla flavoring, one-half cup of catsup, one teaspoon baking powder, one stick of melted margarine. Mix all ingredients together and pour into a baking dish or pan sprayed with Pam or Baker’s Joy. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-minutes.

WATERING FOUNDATION SHRUBS: The shrubs and plantings around your home’s foundation need a drink of water every week because gutters and downspouts divert water away from them. They contribute a lot to prevent water from reaching crawl spaces and basements. Use the hose while you are watering flowers and beds to soak the shrubs and plantings around your home’s foundation.

THERE IS STILL PLENTY OF TIME TO PLANT ROWS OF GREEN BEANS: With more than two and a half months of warm weather remaining, there is still a lot of time for another crop of green beans to mature. Start a pound of Top Crop or Strike varieties this week so that you can enjoy a harvest of green beans fresh from the garden before frost arrives.

FIREFLIES ON A WARM JULY EVENING: As we reach mid-July, we hope we have some evening thunderstorms to cool the night air and promote an abundance of fireflies to brighten the porch and deck and add light to the summer nights.

THE FOUR O’CLOCKS ARE STARTING THEIR BLOOMS: They don’t bloom at four o’clock because Daylight Savings time mixes up their biological time clock, but usually by 5:30p.m., they have opened up for the rest of the day and night. They look like Christmas ornaments with their colors of red, white, yellow, wine, pink and mixed shades. Their dark green foliage also adds a festive touch.

FIREWORKS ON HOT JULY AFTERNOONS: Here’s hoping for plenty of the guns of summer in the form of thunderstorms to refresh the Dog Day heat and revive the summer garden!

THE STRIKE GREEN BEAN – A VICTIM OF 2016 CROP FAILURE: The green bean has gone the path of the Carolina Sieva lima bean, the Tenderette green bean. We had to substitute our strikes with Blue Lake Bush. There is no wonder so many gardeners are returning to the heirloom varieties! The gardening world is becoming more and more the victim of hybridization. We may have to soon purchase all seeds from Johnny’s seeds.

Ray Baird

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