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It's About Time - July 2014

Platanthera dilatata, white bog orchid.
Platanthera dilatata, white bog orchid.

We expect July to deliver a month of warm soil in the garden. There is a certain sensual pleasure gotten from dragging fingers through moist soil when weeding or planting. Bare hands, no gloves. As sensual pleasures go, this is both beneficial and acceptable in public.

Regular watering is usually necessary to keep that soil moist because on average this is the driest month of the year in the southern Willamette Valley. Long, hot days with ample water means this is the season of most rapid growth. Fertilizer helps a lot, something easy to forget or put off. The best advice may be, “Fertilize weakly, weekly.”

Last year I made a big change in garden allocation, devoting one entire bed to flowers. This year I decided to turn over another bed to flowers. They brighten up the vegetable garden and provide regular bouquets for in-home decoration. Although I favor organic fertilizers for nurturing vegetables, the flowers make do with ordinary commercial fertilizer.

Just like last year, the full moon in July will occur within 24 hours of perigee, meaning another “supermoon.” The moon rises almost the same time as sunset on the 12th, the best evening for red moon photography.

Low snow pack this year just might mean an early end to the mosquito season. By the end of August camps in the high Cascades should offer bug-free evenings. Mosquitoes will remain pesky in wetlands the rest of this month, so day hikes are best for hunting orchids. 

David Wagner is a botanist who has lived in Eugene for more than 30 years. He teaches moss classes and leads nature walks. He may be reached at fernzenmosses@me.com.