Helpful tips from The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

DOG DAYS WILL END NEXT THURSDAY: It will still be plenty of heat remaining throughout the rest of the month of August, but the humidity of Dog Days will reach their end next Thursday. With the end of Dog Days, our thoughts can turn to planting turnips, mixed greens, kale, broccoli, spinach and cabbage. By the time they germinate, the days will be less humid and nights will be less humid and the nights will cool off just a bit. Other summer vegetables are maturing so continue the harvest and don’t let any of it go to waste after all the hard work and expense.

AUGUST IS THE MONTH OF FOGS AND THEIR PREDICTION OF THE SNOWS OF WINTER: Does a heavy August fog predict a heavy winter snow or a light fog predicts a light snowfall? My grandma in Northampton County in eastern North Carolina recorded every August fog and also how long it took the August sun to burn off the morning’s fog thus predicting the length of time that snow fall and how big the snow would be. Grandma’s theory was the thicker the fog, the heavier the snows of winter and the amount of snows we would have in winter whether heavy or light. Many of her calculations proved quite accurate.

DOGWOOD BERRIES AND HEAVY AMOUNTS OF ACORNS: The month of August begins the harvest of many vegetable crops and also the production of seeds and berries in the world of nature. Can great numbers of red berries and dogwoods and nandina bushes predict a cold winter ahead? Can huge amounts of acorns falling from mighty oaks be a sign of a cold winter? They are probably as accurate as the morning fogs of August mornings. It doesn’t cost anything to keep an eye on them and see what kind of weather they forecast. Who knows, they may be more accurate than a meteorologist? I remember that my grandma’s predictions were right many times.

ARE YOU DREAMING OF A WHITE WINTER? Last Monday we celebrated Saint Lammas Day, and this saint predicts on his special day that legend has it that if the whole week that begins with his special day is hot, we can expect the winter to be white and icy, (this means rain, sleet, ice and snow) in other words, a wet, cold, icy and snowy winter. This is weather lore and legend, certainly not grandma’s prediction. If she were alive today and read these words, she would probably laugh. We do know this: it will be hot in August, and it will be cold in winter because God controls the seasons and the weather and not Saint Lammas. It is good to think about snow on a hot remaining Dog Day afternoon!

A WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY FOR MAKING COMPOST: August is the opportune time to start off the compost pile of bin because there are plenty of grass clippings to heat up the compost and residue of stalks and vines from the vegetable garden can be mowed over and broken down to make compost. You can add some 10-10-10 pellet fertilizer, vegetable peels and hulls to the compost and also some Alaska fish emulsion mixed with a sprinkler can of water and applied to the compost to heat it up.

WATCHING OUT FOR PINK AND PURPLE MORNING GLORIES: They are very easy to spot in a garden plot and a real danger signal. If they have been allowed to reach this stage of growth, they need to be traced down the vine to their roots and pulled up so they will not produce seed pods that contain thousands of tiny seeds that can infest next year’s garden plot.

FEEDING HUMMERS AND SONGBIRDS: As we move into the month of August, many flowers have reached past their peak and the hummingbirds will be searching for other sources of food and the food in the feeders will become a primary supply for them. Keep the feeders filled and change the food once a week to keep it fresh. Fill the birdbaths and add fresh, cool water every evening. Keep the feeders filled and make sure birds are welcome on your lawn.

HOT TOMATOES ON THE VINES IN AUGUST: TOMATOES LOVE THE HOT DAYS OF August and they will quickly ripen. They are at their very best when you pick a large one that is still hot from the August sun and eaten when sprinkled with salt. On dry August days, birds peck holes in tomatoes trying to find moisture. You can prevent them from doing this by harvesting them as they begin to ripen and place them on the porch or deck to finish ripening and protect them from the birds.

A TROPICAL PEPPER HARVEST IN MONTH OF AUGUST: The sweet bell peppers are very tropical in nature and they love hot August days to reach harvest stage. Peppers are easy to freeze for use all year long. All you need to do is wash them, slice off the top, remove the seed, cut and dice them in quarter inch cubes and place them in plastic freezer containers in the freezer. When you need peppers for a recipe, just remove the amount you need from the container and place the container back in the freezer.

AUGUST ALMANAC: The new moon of August will occur on Tuesday, August 2, 2016 and will reach its first quarter on Tuesday, August 10, 2016. Dog Days will end on Thursday, August 11, 2016. There will be a full moon on the night of Thursday, August 18, 2016 and the name of this moon will be “Full Sturgeon Moon.”

MAKING CUT FLOWERS OF SUMMER LAST LONGER: When cutting zinnias, marigolds, roses, cosmos for summer arrangements, you can make them last longer by adding a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide to the water in the case before adding water for the flowers. This will perk up the flowers, prolong their beauty and give them an extra shot of beauty.

THE MAJESTIC MONARCH ARRIVES AT THE ZINNIA BED: The yellow and golden swallowtail butterflies arrived in early May to bask on the dianthus blooms on the back deck and have been visiting the colorful zinnias since early June. Last Monday, the zinnias were graced by the arrival of the Monarch Butterfly flying in its majestic, graceful bounce. What a distance it must have flown and what a welcome sight to behold on a Dog Day afternoon with a heat index of 102 degrees! Only God could create such a beautiful insect. The wonders of summer are as close as your own front yard.

A POWERFUL SHOT FOR LATE, LATE TOMATOES: Do you want to give late tomatoes that will provide an autumn harvest a powerful boost of nutrients that are totally natural and organic? This mixture is just what late tomatoes need for a quick take off toward autumn harvest before frost. This nutrient is named “Doctor Earth Home Grown Organic Natural Fertilizer.” It is very fine-textured and not pelletized for a quick plant response. You can place a handful under plants when setting them out or apply on both sides of the plants. It is available in the garden section of Home Depot and in hardware’s. A four pound bag costs less than ten dollars. A bag will feed 16 plants over a season. All late tomatoes need a shot of strength to move them along and this all natural product is worth a try for great results.

Ray Baird

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