The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

Keeping the summer hummers humming: The hummingbirds in late summer are buzzing, chasing and fuming at the feeders. We can help them in their quest for food by keeping the feeders filled every other day. The heat of the August sun causes the liquid food to ferment. Ants can also be a problem around the feeders and this makes another reason to change the food every other day. A good hint is to fill feeders only half full during the hot days of August to avoid waste of the nectar.

Caring for the roses of midsummer: The roses of midsummer are colorful as well as aromatic. If we give them a little boost they will continue to bloom all the way until frost. You can stir in some pelletized rose fertilizer around the base of the roses or pour liquid fertilizer around the bottom of the roses. Spray every ten days for mites, beetles or insect pests. Cut off all spent blooms to promote new flowers. Water the roses when they don’t receive much rain in a week.

Mowing the green grass of summer: Morning fogs and heavy dews can make the summer mowing job a challenge. Do not mow grass when it is wet with dew or fog. Wait until the afternoon sun burns off the moisture. The wet grass will stick to the mower and blade and also cause clippings to pile up on the lawn making an ugly mess and they will also promote rust on the mower’s underside. The wet clippings will also stick to your clothes and shoes.

Do dews of August predict ice for winter? Last week we wrote about Saint Lamma’s Day and the legend that if the week of his day is hot and steamy, we can expect white and ice winter. On Saint Lamma’s Day, it is said that the dew of summer begins to turn colder every day and the heavier the dews of August, the more ice we will have in winter. We don’t know if grandma in Northampton county took note of this or not, but who can predict a long range winter anyway. All we can do is grin and bear it!

A late summer gamble with a row of green beans: If you have an extra row in the garden and $3.50 for a pound of green bean seed, it’s worth a gamble to sow a row of green beans to try to make an autumn harvest. The maturity date for green beans is 60 to 75 days, which would put their maturity date if you plant them this week being around October 12, 2017 or maybe sooner with warm temperatures in late August. Remember: all you have to lose is an extra row and $3.50 worth of seed. It is worth a garden gamble and not a bad risk!

A goodbye to summer’s Dog Days: This weekend we can say farewell to the Dog Days of summer. It will still be quite a few hot ties remaining but the humidity may come down a bit. We know that all dogs and most people will be glad. It is one of the early signs that autumn is just over the horizon.

Water gets hot as the August sun bears down on the birdbaths. Empty the old water that is hot from the afternoon sun and give the birds a fresh cool drink before they go to roost at twilight. Rinse the bath of all debris before filling it with fresh water.

Tender loving care for summer’s late tomatoes. The tomatoes of late summer deserve a little bit of special attention. Hill the soil up around the bottom of each plant for support and to prevent dryness to the roots. Use the water wand in “shower” mode to apply water to the bottom of the tomato vines. Do not water the top of the tomatoes because this promotes rot and fungus. Even though you have cages on your tomatoes some may be tall enough that they need a state along with the cage for extra support. Use a sprinkling can of water mixed with Miracle-Gro tomato liquid fertilizer for an extra boost or more tomato harvest

Midsummer sounds of the evenings: The hummingbirds fight to dominate the feeders. During the early evening the birds are active at the birdbaths as they cool off and enjoy a meal before the sun goes down. Bees are visiting the perennials and annuals on the porch and deck and the butterflies visit the colorful bed of zinnias. The katydids and crickets are making a symphony and accompanied by drums of summer thunder and an approaching evening thunderstorm.

August is a month of transition: August begins to send hints of the coming season of autumn as we hear sounds of Katydids high in the oaks and chirps of crickets in the grass. Ther is a hint of red on the dogwood leaves and a tiny bit of yellow on some maples. Plenty of dew and fogs adorn midsummer mornings as all nature points in the direction of autumn.

The royal majesty of Queen Anne’s Lace: The summer of 2017 has been a productive and abundant season for the white lacy blooms of Queen Anne’s Lace in meadows, fields and along roadsides in western North Carolina. Queen Anne’s grows in the south and is very productive in Wisconsin where it grows even along the railroad tracks. My mother always used Queen Anne’s Lace in floral arrangements to place in church intermingled with zinnias and marigolds from her flower garden. How very elegant the Queen Anne’s Lace and truly it lives up to its name of “lace” with its dainty and fragile blossoms. How can any floral plant so wild look so very tame? Only God in all His majesty and glory could create something as extra special as Queen Anne’s Lace!

Only eleven days until the solar eclipse: Only eleven days until the spectacle of summer 2017 as the arrival of the Solar Eclipse of the sun. It is a rare time when the earth, the moon and the sun reach an alignment with each other that produces a total eclipse in some areas of the country and as close to us as Charleston, S.C. and Columbia, S.C. The path of the eclipse will reach totality for a little over two minutes. This has not happened in our area of the U.S. since the days of George Washington and Ben Franklin – a very rare event indeed! A trip to Charleston on Monday, August 21, 2017 could well be the vacation to remember!

Ray Baird