Dog Days of Summer.
Friday, August 9, 1996
The Three Hs.
ure enough. Hazy, Hot and Humid. They're here. After seemingly endless weeks of rainy, cool and very unseasonable weather, the bad guys are back with a vengence. For July in southcentral Pennsylvania, where the average rainfall norm is just over 3", we received 14"; the wettest July on record. Ever. June's rainfall was half that and 2" over it's normal amount. Who knows what August will bring.
Moisture is nice for all plants, but there are concurrent problems associated with too much rain, cloudy days and cooler-than-usual temperatures. Disease. Botrytis and other fungus. These fungi attack the leaves of many plants such as maples, dogwood, birch, oaks and hundreds of perennials and shrubs, causing red and black leaf spotting, powdery mildew and generally weaken the plant's ability to feed itself by making chlorophyll from sunlight.
You could spray Dacomil or Benomyl fungicides and probably help the plant rid itself of the fungus, but drier, warmer, sunnier days will do the same thing at less cost. You'll notice each spring, as I do, there are less and less white wild dogwoods in the forest because of another associated disease called anthracnose. Not to be confused with a cattle disease called anthrax, anthracnose is steadily Killing off the species dogwoods all over the country. Soon, there will be none. There's nothing that can be done. Enjoy them while they're still here.
What Are They?
The Dog Days of Summer traditionally occur in August when the Dog Moon of Chinese astrology lore, produces an off-white, hazy moon at night, and results in stifflingly-hot and humid days. The haze of the heat reflecting off of hard surfaces during the sultry days was believed to make the moon look somewhat fuzzy at night.
Another sign of their arrival was the absence of dogs during the daylight hours, when it was so hot. The dogs slept during the heat and howled at the moon during the night. The Chinese kept their dogs as pets and also ate them when other food was scarce. Dog is still considered a food meat staple in Asia today.
As abhorrent as that sounds to Western people, many Asian countries also eat other animals that we've domesticated as pets, such as cats, horses, snakes, rodents and more. It's another world and another culture; not mine to criticize, but certainly not to my liking.
Fall Isn't Far Away.
On September 22nd, Fall will officially arrive according to the calendar timetables. The true test of its arrival will be the plants' and animals' activities, and whether they signal an early winter. Keep your eyes open for their activities of hoarding and migrating. Also, watch the pin oaks for an early drop of acorns; that's a significant sign of an impending winter arrival. If the acorns are large and drop early, as with last year, find your boots and get your snow shovels out: winter's coming early. Brrrrrrrr.
It's 102F in the sun today. I'm soaked with sweat. I just finished unloading a tractor trailer from a nursery in North Carolina with one my five-man crews. I had bought in large Canadian Hemlock (Tsuga Canadensis) and several other varieties of shrubs to fill-in some gaps in the nursery stock lines right now, because many things are depleted for upcoming landscape jobs. It will be the crews' job to get all the trees heeled-in, mulched and watered so that they survive the coming weather. Business has been phenomenal since early Spring, and there's no sign of any let-up through October.
After talking with the North Carolina Nursery owner two days ago, I specifically requested that he not dig anything in this heat, even with all the ground moisture they've had. We could wait another few weeks if necessary, rather than chance it. Instead of digging and shocking the plants, it would be smart to wait until the new growth had hardened-off. I hate to whack anything unnecessarily.
I might just as well have been talking to an animated gif; he sure didn't listen at all. Pickles listens better than that guy did! They dug and B&B (balled and burlapped) ten large River Birches (Betula Nigra) and ten very large White Dogwoods (Cornus Florida). All 20 were in bad shape, and at least 10 were completely browned-off, coming out of the refrigerated truck. We sprayed cool water onto them right away and also sprayed Bio-Plex, which is a synthetic enzyme that is foliar (leaf) absorbed immediately. I've seen some amazing things done using Bio-Plex in the dead of Summer, that would have otherwise whacked the freshly-dug plant material. Whether the plants survive because of our efforts will be another story. I think I'll wait the full 30 days before I pay that bill.
The Dog Days of Summer are often blamed for stress that occurs in each of us; at work, at home and at play. People interacting produce stress as ideas and wishes conflict and collide. Some people handle it well, others don't and loose their cool. Postal Workers are one extreme example.
"STRESS"... Is that period of confusion
created when one's mind
overrides the body's basic desire
to choke the living shit
out of some moron
who desperately needs it.
Best not to let someone else or something get under your skin. When I worked in New York City for those 17 years in advertising on Madison Avenue, I saw some real good and bad examples of this happen. I quickly learned to control my temper by avoiding those confrontational situations in the first place. Nothing, or at least very little, is worth the accompanying problems or an argument and fight. Life is all too short anyway for something as silly as that.
I've signed-up for Intro to Photoshop at The Bradley Academy For The Visual Arts, here in York, during the months of September and October. They hold evening classes, twice a week for three weeks. It's not cheap, but it will pay dividends down the road.
I did make the green edge .gif and the drop-cap S .gif, and several others, at the beginning of this Journal entry. Not bad for a first attempt.
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