Helpful tips from The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

THE MAJESTY OF THE CAROLINA JASMINE BUSH: They are evergreen all year round and covered with fragrant yellow blossoms several times during the year. They can be shaped and trimmed in all seasons and their blossoms produce the scent of heavenly perfume. Of course the Carolina Jasmine is a perennial so you can enjoy it’s greenery and blooms all year long

THE BEAUTY OF A MID-SUMMER RAINBOW: There is always an added bonus to an afternoon thunderstorm in mid-July when it brings at its end a ray of sunshine and a colorful rainbow. It is a blessing that rainbows can only appear after a storm and the sun has to return to produce such a colorful, majestic thing as a rainbow in the eastern sky. No colors are as beautiful as the seven glowing colors of a rainbow after a storm

THE FRAGRANCE AND BEAUTY OF LATE SUMMER ROSES: Roses are wonderful because they are so productive even in the heat of summer. When other flowers are stressed from summer’s heat, the roses continue to put on a display of color. All they need is a drink of water once a week when it doesn’t rain and a shot of liquid rose fertilizer once every other week.

THE FOUR O’CLOCK DISPLAY FROM NOW UNTIL FROST: The four o’clocks are now in bloom and displaying colorful foliage and flowers. Even when no rain is forecast, the four o’clocks thrive and produce. Their blooms in colors of yellow, white, red, pink and burgundy resemble lights on a Christmas tree as they peek through the green tear-shaped leaves. These unusual flowers grow in every type of soil. They are summer’s longest lasting flowers.

THE WEED POPULATION IS SPEEDING ALONG: The heat of July may slow down the vegetable garden but it speeds up the weed crop of morning glories, Bermuda grass, lamb’s quarters and crab grass. Hot weather does not seem to bother the weed growth. The very best way to get rid of weeds is to pull them up by the roots and remove them from the garden plot before they go to seed and make matters worse.

THE GLOW OF FIREFLIES ON A SUMMER EVENING: Lightning bugs are a great deal; here is a small flying insect with a flickering light in its rear-end that seems to be giving signals! Science can give us all kinds of explanations about their fluorescent fanny, and that their light is useful for mating and other stuff, but why did God choose to make a lightning bug glow? We wonder when God was creating all the animals as well as all things around us, He created the unique firefly and said, “The kids are gonna love this!” We do know God loves us enough to create all the things we need to survive. We know also that He loves us enough to create some things just to make us smile and be happy. Watching fireflies on a summer night makes us smile as the sight of them takes us back to a sawdust pile in front of my grandma’s house in Northampton County as a barefoot boy with a quart mason jar catching them while running in the sawdust with neighborhood kids. The sounds of squeals and joy echoing across the sawdust pile over to grandma’s house. Lightning bugs are as much a part of summer as warm tomatoes from the garden, watermelons, cantaloupes, fireworks and running around barefooted. We’re one of the reasons God created fireflies and watermelons filled with seed. It is part of God’s reasons for kids

(and adults old and younger) to have a fun and memory-filled summer! Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the man-made world and all its problems that we overlook the small stuff all around us. We forget that even the lightning bugs have a great purpose in the 21st Century because they remind us of a creative God who loves us so very much that He would make the rear end of a lightning bug glow just to make us smile and give us a pleasant memory.

KEEPING A WATCH ON THE JAPANESE BEETLE POPULATION: We hope this will be a summer when they are in short supply, like they were last summer. If you see a few, there may be even more around. Check grapevine leaves and rose bushes because they usually target them first. Put out traps and bait when you first see them and if they seem to get out of control, apply Sevin spray on foliage.

THE CHIRPING AND GRINDING OF KATYDIDS AND CRICKETS: They say that you can mark time by the chirp of the crickets and mark the coming of another season by the grinding sound of the Katydid. Both are making plenty of noise every July night. The grinding sound of Katydids reminds us that even though summer has six more weeks, the Katydid is heralding the distant advent of autumn. The crickets are chirping out their approval of the advent of another season as the panorama of autumn is over the distant horizon.

THE SWAN SONG OF THE MONTH OF JULY 2016: Only two more days remain in the month of July and we will begin the month of August on Monday. With the month of August, we can expect more hot days, some mornings with the lawns loaded with heavy dews that will linger until almost noon. Another trademark of August is the arrival of morning fogs of which some may be heavy and some light that predict winter snows.

USING PEAT MOSS ON LATE JULY VEGETABLE CROPS: Late July and Dog Day afternoons can cause a lot of stress on the late vegetable seed planted in the waning days of the month. Add several handfuls of peat moss and then seed and top it with another layer of peat moss and then a good layer of water from the water wand in “stream” mode before covering with soil and tamping down with the hoe blade to get them off to a foolproof start.

A TRIP TO THE BLUEBERRY FIRELDS ON A SUMMER MORNING: Fats Domino sang the song “I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill.” It may not be a thrill but a couple of buckets of blueberries are worth the effort. It takes a lot of blueberries to fill a bucket, and also a lot of patience, so leave the kids and grandkids at home. Another plus is to get up early and go to the blueberry field in the cool of the morning. When you prepare the berries for freezing, don’t run water over them but pour them into a sink of cold water and let unripened and tiny berries rise to the top. Use a tea strainer to skim them up and discard them. Place the washed berries on a dry towel for several minutes and then pour the berries into quart or pint freezer containers. Frozen berries in winter are almost as good as fresh in the summer.

Ray Baird

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