Keeping staff and students safe


The katydids are singing songs of autumn

Even though Dog Days are still with us, as the month of July comes to an end the katydids in the tops of mighty oaks are singing songs of the up-and-coming autumn. These unusual insects make music by rubbing their legs against their sides. They resemble large green grasshoppers. Their song is the same each evening and they remind us how slowly and subtly one season paves the way into another. Soon, the dews will become wetter and sticky and the fogs of August will be another sign that the season of fall is sneaking up on us. The crickets will join the katydids in singing of the coming change of seasons.

This is the season to start a compost pile

As the harvest of some vegetable crops reaches maturity, the time to start a compost bin or pile has arrived. The heat will quickly warm a pile of compost. The residue of spent vegetable crops and stalks or vines are great compost ingredients. Run the mower over them to break the garden residue down to speed up the compost process. Add grass clippings to heat it up. Add some Plant-Tone organic vegetable food or Black Kow composted cow manure to build up heat in the pile. Add peelings, hulls, and garden waste to the compost and add some water once a week. Stir the pile or bin twice each week as you add the ingredients.

The sights and sounds of midsummer

The humming birds zoom around and compete for nectar at the feeders. The birds of summer are active at the feeders and bees visit the annuals and perennials on the porch and deck. Butterflies and finches visit the zinnia bed. Thunder sounds in the distance as a storm approaches. After the storm runs its course, the garden plot will be filled with the glow of fireflies. Humid days, pop-up thunderstorms, and fire fly evenings seem to be summer’s calling cards.

Checking the rose of midsummer

The roses have bloomed all the way through the spring and early summer. With some extra care, they will bloom until frost. To keep them blooming, deadhead all spent blooms, spray foliage for mites, insects, and Japanese beetles. Feed with Rose-Tone organic rose food once each month. Water once a week if no rain is in the forecast. Keep long canes trimmed back.

A bit of Saint Lammas weather lore

Saint Lammas Day will be celebrated tomorrow. On this day, it is said that the grain begins to ripen and the dew begins to get heavy. A bit of lore on Saint Lammas Day says that if his day is hot and steamy, look for winter to be white and creamy. We can certainly look for Saint Lammas Day to be hot and steamy because after all, we still have several Dog Days remaining. Don’t count on winter being too white and creamy. Winter is still more than five months away, and a lot of hot, humid weather is ahead before we can even think about the white stuff. One sure thing we know about Saint Lammas Day is that the halfway point of summer has been reached.

Connecting August fogs with winter snows

Tomorrow brings the arrival of the first day of August. The month also brings the arrival of foggy mornings. Are the fogs of August harbingers of the coming snows of winter? My grandmother in Northampton County always thought they did, and so did my mother. They kept accurate records of each August fog and if they were light, medium, or heavy. They rose early every morning so they were in a good position to observe and record the results of the fogs. A heavy fog represents a heavy snow, medium fogs represent a medium snowfall and light fog would mean a trace of snow or a dusting of snow or just a covering of snow. Some of their observations were about as accurate as some of today’s forecasts.

Weather lore as August begins

The last full month of summer begins Monday with almost two more weeks of Dog Days remaining. The last day of the Dog Days of 2022 will be Thursday, August 11. A bit of winter weather lore to begin the month of August says that if the first week of August be warm, winter will be white and long. With Dog Days still in progress, we could very well see some more hot weather. August has plenty of weather lore as you will see in today’s Garden Plot. Even though winter is still a long way off, surely this bit of winter lore can be taken with a grain of salt.

A bowl of colorful dressed up green beans

For this summer recipe, you will need one quart fresh or canned green beans, one large diced white onion, one teaspoon sugar, half teaspoon pepper, one two ounce jar of diced pimentos, one can mushrooms, one can Green Giant Lesueur peas, one stick light margarine and half cup catsup. Mix all ingredients except green beans and simmer for fifteen minutes. Add drained green beans and half a stick of margarine and simmer for twenty minutes.

Tomatoes ripen quickly in late summer heat

In the heat of the midsummer sun, tomatoes will ripen quickly. On days when the sun bears down and no rain is in the forecast use the water wand in shower mode and water the base of the tomato vines and not the foliage to prevent blossom end rot. During dry spells, birds will peck holes in tomatoes to obtain moisture. To prevent this, harvest tomatoes before they get fully ripe and place them on the porch or deck to finish ripening. Apply powdered lime tomato plants and hill up soil on both sides of the plants or mix lime and water in a sprinkling can and pour around the base of tomato plants.

Monarch butterfly needs help

The monarch butterfly with orange wings trimmed and bordered in black and white have decreased in numbers of 25% to 50% percent over the past decade. A lot of their decrease in population has been caused by the shortage of milkweed which hosts the egg-laying monarch butterflies. Milkweed is in shorter supply because of habitat destruction by development expansion, commercial enterprises, urban sprawl, and careless land management. Most of the land where milkweed prospered has been gulped up.

We are not much for the propagation of weeds, but in the interest of the survival of the Monarch and the hidden benefits of the milkweed, we are going to plant more flowers, scout for some milkweed and transplant it to the garden or try to locate some milkweed seed. After all, milkweed is a perennial and has beautiful purple and lavender flowers. We think this is a worthwhile project and we hope we can find some milkweed or milkweed seeds. Here are a few factors about milkweed: 1) Milkweed is a perennial. Monarchs and their larvae and caterpillars love milkweed. 2) Milkweed can be propagated from cuttings, the milkweed also develops seed pods and can also be rooted. (3) If you can find seed, milkweed can be planted. 4) Monarchs are also known as milkweed butterflies. 5) Monarchs migrate 1,600 miles each year to the mountains of western Mexico.

Keeping bell peppers harvested to freeze

Sweet bell peppers should soon be ready to harvest as the midsummer sun shines down on them. Sweet bells are easy to process and freeze. All you have to do is cut off the tops, split them and remove the seeds and cut into half-inch cubes and place in quart and pint plastic freezer containers. When you need peppers for recipes all year round, get a container and pour out what you need and place the container back in the freezer.

Starting a late row of strike beans

Strike is the best of green beans for late summer harvests and abundant production. A row that is planted this week will produce a harvest before mid-September and produce until the end of the month. Plant the strikes in a furrow about three or four inches deep and apply a layer of peat moss on top of the seed and also a layer of Black Kow composted manure and then an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food. Hill up soil on both sides of the furrow and tamp down soil over seeds in row with the hoe blade for good soil contact. Once the beans develop two leaves side dress with Plant-Tone organic vegetable food every 15 days. Apply water with a water wand in ‘Shower’ mode each week when rain is not in the forecast.

The rainbow of colors in the zinnia bed

The Zinnias of mid-summer are showing off a rainbow of colors and attracting an abundance of attention from yellow and black tiger swallowtails, bees, hummingbirds, sparrows, gold finches, as well as the majestic Monarch butterflies. These floral masterpieces are on display along with the tapestry of an array of butterflies, all performing a spectacular show of motion and beauty.

Hoe hoe hoedown

“Female football lover.” A man took his sweetheart to a football game. After the game, he asked her how she liked the game. She replied, “I like it, but I could not understand why the players fuss over twenty-five measly cents.” Her boyfriend said, “What are you talking about?” His sweetheart said, “Well, they were all saying get the quarter back!”

“Watered down.” A motorist, after being stuck on a muddy road, paid this farmer $50 to pull his car out of the mud. The motorist told the farmer, “At these prices you should be pulling people out of the mud day and night.” The farmer replied, “I can’t do that because every night I have to fill the hole with water!”