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It's About Time - June 2016

Ranchman’s Tiger Moth, Platypretia Virginalis
Ranchman’s Tiger Moth, Platypretia Virginalis

Summer solstice is arguably the most significant of all solar events. That the sun shone straight down a well in Syrene, Egypt, every summer solstice day gave Eratosthenes the insight for determining the Earth’s circumference 2,200 years ago. Stone monuments worldwide are aligned to commemorate this longest day of the year. The bronze sighting monument on the summit of Mount Pisgah has slots that line up with sunrise and sunset on the solstice. (Winter solstice uses the same sighting slots as summer, but reversed.) Our solstice this year, June 20, is special: There’s a full moon early solstice morning.

Gardens need to be taken seriously now, as the main growing season is ahead of us. All the big, productive plants should be in the ground well before solstice: tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, pole beans and the like. Get good starts from the organic gardeners at the Farmers Market. It is a good and healthy way to support our local farmers. With proper attention to watering, weeding and feeding, a good crop is assured.

Unlike garden plants, tree crops are not always so reliable. The olive trees in Greece have a good output of olives only every other year. Olive oil must be prepared and stored in the good years to cover a two-year period. Our fruit trees seem a bit more erratic, with climate vagaries as influential as genetic timing. The apple trees seem to be having a down year while the pear trees have an abundance of baby pears.