Gardener’s Almanac for July 11, 2014

Gardeners Almanac

“Mosquito is out, it’s the end of the day;

she’s humming and hunting her evening away.

Who knows why such hunger arrives on such wings

at sundown? I guess it’s the nature of things.”

–  N. M. Boedecker

As one might expect with all the rain we have had this spring and now summer, the bugs here in Western Wisconsin are bad. We don’t have too much trouble with mosquitoes here on Norwegian Ridge, but the gnats. Uffda!

We still seem to be in a really wet weather cycle. Sometimes I look at the weather radar and wonder if southern Minnesota and Iowa are still on the map or have they floated away. We still see lots of extra water in low places and there are fields that still have not dried out. We drove north yesterday and it seems that crops are doing better. Corn looks real uneven in some places, but it seems things are recovering. I am praying God brings in the harvest.

The sun rose this morning at 5:34 a.m. but it was cloudy with rain when I tuned in to the prayer at Glory of Zion website. They start their gathering at 5:15 and this morning again were focusing on praying for Israel. Please remember Israel in your prayers!

Tomorrow, July 12th, is when the full moon for July occurs. It is called the Buck Moon. Bucks begin to grow new antlers at this time and we can vouch for that here on Norwegian Ridge. We have seen and our trail cam has caught pictures of a little buck that has been wandering through our property. His little antlers are lovely with velvet.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac tells us that there is something special about this July full moon. On the news you might hear it referred to as a “Super Moon”. That is because of how big and bright this full moon looks. The reason for it is that the moon this month – as well as the August’s and September’s full moons – occurs at the same time as the PERIGEE. “Perigee” is the point at which the Moon is nearest Earth each month so it can appear up to 30% brighter and 16 % larger.

This full moon was also called the Thunder Moon by First People because thunderstorms are so frequent during this month. Hmmmm… this year that has been true since the snow melted it seems! The OFA tells us that “lightning strikes more than 40–50 times a second during June, July and August.” Those of you living in the Tampa-Orlando Florida area lead the way with an average of 91 lightning flashes per square mile.

Another interesting statistic is that there is a difference in who is more likely to be hit by lightning. “Little old ladies are safe, but guys between the ages of 20 and 30 seem to be lightning rods.” It might be because we little old ladies like to stay inside when it is storming while young guys are outside working or on ball fields and golf courses!

This past week the orioles and the Rose Breasted Grosbeaks have come back to our feeders. For a few weeks in June they always “disappear” while they are setting their nests, but when the babies come, mama and papa bird leads them back to the good stuff! It is really fun to see mamas feeding their kids grape jelly and seeds. Woodpeckers are fun to watch with their babies too.

We have another batch of wrens in the birdhouse by the grape arbor. They must be ready to fly off on their own soon because they are LOUD and getting louder in their demands for food. What a racket they put up when their parents show up with a tidbit for them! By the sounds of their complaints you know nothing is enough for all those hungry mouths. This is all good news for my garden of course – wrens keep my garden clean.

Last week during the 4th of July holiday my husband and I were finally able to get in the garden and weed. It was still pretty wet but it just had to get cleaned up. Our tomatoes are looking okay, beans not so much, cucumbers struggling, peppers hanging in there but needing hot and dry weather.

We ate some broccoli from the garden yesterday, and my grandkids picked (and ate!) all the raspberries they wanted.

My lilies are putting on a spectacular show this week with all the colors of the rainbow. Black eyed Susans are beginning to bloom and the lavender is at its best right now. I thought you might enjoy a little information about lavender, my favorite herb.

Lavender has a long history of usefulness. The ancient Greeks gave lavender the name “Nardus” after the city in Syria called Naarda near the Euphrates. Nard was a commodity of great value in the ancient world – in Mark and John’s gospel they tell us that it was a very expensive alabaster box of “Spikenard” that Mary broke on the feet of Jesus as she anointed him shortly before he was crucified. Precious lavender…

References to lavender are found in old herbals and it was useful for many things:

Lavender is of ‘especiall good use for all griefes and paines of the head and brain’…another herbalist from 1710 says of lavender: ‘it is good also against the bitings of serpents, mad-dogs and other venomous creature, being given inwardly and applied poultice-wise to the parts wounded. The spirituous tincture of the dried leaves or seeds, if prudently given, cures hysterick fits though vehement and of long standing.” In some cases of mental depression and delusions, oil of lavender proves of real service, and a few drops rubbed on the temple will cure nervous headache…

So throughout history lavender has been used – it’s essential oil for disinfectant/antiseptic, perfume and aromatherapy purposes, the flowers and flower buds for potpourris, and in sachets make a great moth repellent (so much nicer than chemical moth balls!).

An infusion of lavender is claimed to soothe and heal insect bites. Bunches of lavender are also said to ward off insects. If applied to the temples, lavender oil is said to soothe headaches. Lavender is frequently used as an aid to sleep and relaxation: Seeds and flowers of the plant are added to pillows, and an infusion of three flower heads added to a cup of boiling water are recommended as a soothing and relaxing bedtime drink. Lavender essential oil (or extract of Lavender) is claimed to heal acne when used diluted 1:10 with water

Lavender is not the easiest herb to grow; it is a very tender perennial in any zone less than 5. But I have found it well worth my trouble. I make sure I mulch the plants in the fall and I don’t fret if they don’t make it through a cold winter. I just try again. Of course there are many varieties of lavender, some hardier than others.

Lavender likes dry feet, so put plants in a well drained spot in your garden. I am trying it in different locations in perennial beds all around my yard – the more lavender I have, the better.

At this time in the summer I always like to share this favorite recipe for lavender – what I call Fairy Cookies. Lavender brings a different taste to your baking, but I like it. If you acquire a taste for lavender too, go to the web to find lavender flavored chocolates, candy and honey. I also really enjoy lavender muffins and scones.

Lavender Fairy Cookies

½ cup butter

1 cup sugar

4 Tablespoons sour cream

½ teaspoon vanilla

1 Tablespoon chopped lavender flowers

1 ½ cup flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

Cream together flour and butter. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla; stir in the dry ingredients until well blended. Drop by half teaspoons on ungreased baking sheet. (Try putting a little sugar on the top of each cookie before you bake them – you could even color the sugar for a little girl’s tea party!). Bake 8 – 10 minutes, and cool slightly on baking sheet before transferring to plates. Yield: 24 cookies

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Joan Tyvoll is founder and president of Rivers Apostolic Center. She is a faith coach, writer and speaker, and has over 40 years of experience ministering to individuals, small groups and congregations. Joan loves to teach, train and coach people with hungry hearts. Contact Joan at 715.772.3345 or email her with questions on this blog