The Dog Days of Summer are upon us
Well, here we are again. Smack dab in the midst of the “dog days of summer”. And Lord have mercy, heat indexes in the hundreds over the weekend. GEEZ!!!! Yes, those sweltering, hot, humid conditions are back. You know the “dog daze of summer” officially started on July 3rd and run until the 11th of August.
However, this is no time to seek out the comfort of your air-conditioned man-cave to watch reruns of some movie from way back. This is the time to be out in the cool early morning hours taking care of some essential necessities.
- Implement and/or provide some sort of consistent source of water to attract insect-eating birds to the garden area. Change the water frequently as they to like clean water.
- Water, Water, Water – Drought-stressed plants have less water within the plant tissue and researchers at Virginia Tech say chemicals that enter the leaves during dry weather will consequently be more concentrated and may burn the plant.
- Apply a layer of mulch to conserve moisture and to help smother weeds. Organic materials decompose rapidly in hot, moist weather.
- Stay on top the weeds. Plants don’t need the competition from weeds getting moisture from the soil in this critical dry time of the year.
- Late summer is a good time to divide plants like peonies, day lilies and iris once the flowers have stopped blooming. Divided plants are less likely to succumb to pests and diseases as well.
- Don’t forget to deadhead your plants! Fight the disease caused by heat and moisture by removing spent flowers and old leaves, as well as any excess growth that may cause poor air circulation
- In my opinion, the most important task for July is this: Take a few moments one evening to find a shady spot near the garden and relax. Sit down, take your shoes off and enjoy a tall glass of ice water or iced tea (preferably with a lemon and a twist of orange). Take a deep breath and look out over your garden. Then, give thanks for your health and the bountiful crop before you.
So why is it called the Dog Days of Summer? Well…
The phrase “Dog Days of Summer” describes the most oppressive period of summer, between July 3rd and August 11th each year. But where did the term come from? And what does it have to do with dogs?
Many people believe the phrase stems from the fact that dogs tend to be sluggish during the hottest days of summer (aren’t we all? ), while others still say the days are so hot it causes dogs to go mad. But the name is actually a reference to the fact that, during this time, the Sun occupies the same region of the sky as Sirius, the brightest star visible from any part of Earth and part of the constellation Canis Major, the Greater Dog. This is why Sirius is sometimes called the Dog Star.
In the summer, Sirius rises and sets with the Sun. On July 23rd, specifically, it is in conjunction with the Sun, and because the star is so bright, the ancient Romans believed it actually gave off heat and added to the Sun’s warmth, accounting for the long stretch of sultry weather. They referred to this time as diēs caniculārēs, or “dog days.”
Thus, the term “Dog Days of Summer” came to mean the 20 days before and 20 days after this alignment of Sirius with the Sun — July 3 to Aug. 11.
While this period usually is the hottest stretch of summer, the heat is not due to any added radiation from Sirius, regardless of its brightness. The heat of summer is simply a direct result of the Earth’s tilt.
During summer in the Northern Hemisphere, the tilt of the Earth causes the Sun’s rays to hit at a more direct angle, and for a longer period of time throughout the day. This means longer, hotter days.
And with that, I’m getting another TALL, COLD and FROSTED MUG OF ICED TEA. ENJOY…..