August and Everything After

DSC_0182August surprised us this year in our part of the Ohio River Valley. Mild temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s (F) are unusual during what we usually refer to as the “dog days of summer.” Felt much like late September. It would have been a shame to face winter without a few of those miserably hot, stick-to-your-car-seat, never-stop-sweating days that make you contemplate moving as far north as you possible can. “Hello, Santa, Could I borrow a cup of eggnog?”

But, alas, summer has caught up with us with a stretch of 90-degree days and humidity levels usually found only under water.

The garden has reacted accordingly, with the tomatoes and peppers drinking in the heat and exhibiting the remarkable fecundity that August usually produces in the garden. It smells of green hotness and dank vegetal matter, what I imagine it smelled like when dinosaurs roamed an earth that was one big tropical rain forest.

TomatoesBut while the heat produces an abundance of garden goodies, the humidity can be a bit unkind to the peonies, zinnias and other plants susceptible to mildew. And a leaf fungus has taken hold in the tomato patch, eager to stop production before we are satiated on love apples. With any luck, we’ll be able to manage it at least for a few more weeks until the frost arrives.

My Granny used to warn me about the danger of snakes this time of year, more likely to bite than run slither away due to the effect of the heat on their cold-blooded bodies, resulting in hot tempers and a general lack of lack of conviviality. I took (and continue to take) her advice and avoid snakes during August (as well as the rest of the year.)

How’s the summer been in your neck of the woods? Has it been a productive year for your plants? Any particular success or failures due to the weather?





About Benjamin

Gardening, Raising a Family, Hobby Photography, Reading & Philoso-phizing...not necessarily in that order.
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38 Responses to August and Everything After

  1. Jardin says:

    An early Spring and now autumnal weather in mid-August, so mixed results. No snakes in Dublin, but had a few too many encounters when we lived in Southern Africa.
    Love the photo of your produce.

  2. pbmgarden says:

    Your tomato crop looks divine. Your descriptions of the heat, humidity, smells and mildew sound familiar, but yesterday and today we’ve finally had a break–clear blue skies, low humidity, cool breezes. Not expected to last but we’re enjoying it while we can.

    • Benjamin says:

      Every day is a gift, but some are better than others! 😉 There’s something magical in your words “clear blue skies, low humidity and cool breezes!

  3. Crooked Tracks says:

    This summer has been a bit on the wet side and it seems that the lilacs had a growth spurt this year. I am happy there are no poisonous snakes in northern MN 🙂

  4. Me too (glad we don’t have snakes to contend with). Send us some of your sunshine and warmth though!

  5. Great post .. I can nearly feel that hot weather. Auckland is so humid .. I so understand those fungal issues. Ah, hurry up spring 🙂

  6. Great post, I laughed out loud when reading your rumblings about heat and humidity. This is the second summer for me in the Ohio Valley…I love the climate here but indeed I am ready for fall now. I try hard not to muse about soft warm woolen sweater, a cozy outside fire for the fallen leaves, a hearty stew spreading its delightful smell….
    That Mildew is a pest indeed, all my pumpkins succumbed to it and the lilac bushes will have to leave the garden too. I plan on having only plants and shrubs that can resist mildew. Strawberries are doing wonderful as are the hydrangeas.
    Our garden in Canada was home to many different snakes, all harmless and useful. Once I had a brown snake in the house I had never seen before. A hasty and rather nerves search on the net, revealed to my relief it was a common milksnake, described as the ‘dumbest’ among the snakes (really!!) So far no snakes in our Ohian garden…what should I look out for?

    • Benjamin says:

      Your description makes me wish for autumn! Pumpkins (and other cucurbits) can be tricky with our levels of humidity. Almost impossible to grow without weekly sprays of an anti fungal so we’ve given up on them. Although when the seed catalogs arrive in January I’m always tempted again.
      Rat snakes, garter snakes, black racers, king snakes & the dreaded copperhead are found in our area. Rat snakes are probably seen the most often; they don’t seem to mind getting close to humans. And although they are beneficial (the keep the mice and rat population down) I don’t really want to be surprised by one when out in the garden 😉

  7. Jim says:

    While I really love the cool weather we’ve been having, I find myself enjoying this hot spell immensely. Now it feels like the summer that really did happen after all. I hope my plants full of green tomatoes will finally turn into plants full of red tomatoes!

    • Benjamin says:

      I agree, the cool weather was nice but it’s great to have at least a little real summer to get us ready for fall and winter. And here’s hoping your tomatoes ripen quickly & deliciously!

  8. solarbeez says:

    Hi Benjamin…I recently tried a variation of this recipe to spray the leaves of the tomato plant to STOP fungus from growing. I’ve applied it twice usually on a cloudy morning before the sun pops out. I think he recommends not using it if your temps will be in the 90’s.

    The recipe I follow uses one part milk to four parts water and a teaspoon of baking soda per quart. So in my one half gallon sprayer I use two teaspoons of baking soda, one part milk, four parts water. You want to remove the spotted leaves and stems first, of course, then spray. I’ve sprayed in intervals of about 10 days. I’ve found new growth and more blossoms. This after my tomato plants had really shut down for the season, and were looking absolutely sick…so sick I didn’t want to take any ‘before/after photos. A couple of days after I spray the baking soda recipe, I hit them again with an epsom salt spray.
    My tomato plants are responding! Hooray!

  9. solarbeez says:

    Footnote to the above comment…I don’t know how the video image appeared, I just type in the link.

  10. bittster says:

    Sounds like you’re still well into summer. I like to think the same thing but the shortening days are beating me over the head with the autumn stick….
    Humidity levels usually only found underwater and is that a Counting Crows reference? Your post made me laugh, thanks!

  11. Pingback: Dog Days of Summer and Garden Crimes | Mrs. Walker Goes Back to School

  12. itwasjudith says:

    snakes really freak me out… i only had a few close encounters, but it was more than enough…. yuk! lovely tomatoes, you made me wish to have a little garden 🙂

    • Benjamin says:

      I’m not a fan of our legless little friends, either. A friend of mine found one inside his house this summer…that says “time to move” to me 😉 Most of our gardening space is devoted to tomatoes; our goal is to be sick of them by the time the summer is through 🙂

      • itwasjudith says:

        are you canning them, I mean the tomatoes? we used to do when i was a kid, they were very good to have during the winter time
        I wouldn’t be pleased at all to find a legless critter in my house!

      • Benjamin says:

        We always plan too, but always seem to eat ’em before we get around to it…maybe next year 🙂

  13. Amy Bogard says:

    Beautiful post Ben!!

  14. Are snakes ever convivial? I’ve seen a number of baby snakes around the yard in the past week, and I don’t like the implications of that for next year!

    We in the Northeast haven’t had the usual days of endless humidity this summer, but rather a few days of it followed by a stretch of pretty pleasant weather, and then back to a few hot humid days again. Of course, now that the town pool is closed and the kids are back to school, summer-like weather has returned.

    Good luck with the mildew on your tomato leaves, and enjoy your crop! I’ve set my sights on a nice Caprese salad for Labor Day! I have two very large ‘Old German’ tomatoes ready to pick and try.

    • Benjamin says:

      A snake-loving friend of mine tries to convince me that most of the snakes in our area are beneficial and keep the rodent population in check. I remain unswayed. 😉

      And, as with you, the kids returned to school just in time for the 90-degree days. Not a happy bunch.

      I love Old German tomatoes, but didn’t grow any of that variety this year, but they’re back on the list for next year. I hope your Caprese salad is delicious! Cheers!

  15. It was a mild August compared to our normal temperatures in the upper 90’s, maybe we will have an early fall. Snakes, a lot of snakes here on the mountain, mostly rattlers and copperheads, try to avoid these guys. Your tomatoes look great!

  16. Cool, wet summer here in Ottawa. I didn’t mind it too much, and neither did my garden: it looks like a jungle.

  17. I’m still getting cherry tomatoes sweet as candy and lots of string beans. We’re enjoying hot, sticky weather here in Southern Ontario. But the thunderstorms are fun. Your post was a great read. And thanks for the like!

  18. Great for the flower garden. Fewer tomatoes (and spotty, in some cases, with dried up leaves). Cukes gave in to fungus. Zucchini indestructible except for wild rabbits. Herbs did very well.

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