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What makes the world go ‘round?

June 20, 2014
By JOYCE COMINGORE - Garden Club of Cape Coral ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

I always thought "love" makes the world go 'round, but computer research tells me, money or science are the top contenders. Mainly, though, I'm thinking about Saturday, June 21, being the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. As my son says, "There you go thinking again, Mom," and Shakespeare says, "yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look , he thinks too much - such men are dangerous." So dangerous me, since I don't have much money, science it is. I read where money makes the world go 'round, science makes it go forward.

Not all people use a solar-based calendar, but we do, so we can therefore predict when solstices and equinoxes will happen. In our year, we have every six months, a solstice and in between, every six months, there is an equinox; and then, research tells me there are about four cross quarter moments. I'm not concerned about the cross quarter moments, but the solstices have always had a special place in my heart. Since Sunday was Father's Day, I've been thinking about my deceased father, and he was born on June 21, many years ago, and I was born on Dec. 21, a few years ago. We hit both the solstices, the longest day of the year and the shortest day of the year. We bonded nicely over this.

Summer solstice, winter solstice, spring (vernal) equinox and fall (autumnal) equinox, these were always the first day of summer and winter, (solstices), then we have the first day of spring and fall, (equinoxes). We've all learned that the Earth rotates the sun every 365 days in an elliptical angle, orbiting at a tilted 23.5 degree angle as we go around it. The Earth is divided by the equator creating the Northern and Southern hemisphere. So the Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere get opposite weather pertaining to which side of the Earth faces the sun. The gravitational pull of the sun makes the planets go 'round.

A solstice is the time of the year when the sun is furthest away from the celestial equator, making days shorter or longer. Equinox is when it is closest to the equator, making daylight and night time about equal. Our days will now start to get shorter.

Stonehenge, the Mayan pyramid Chichen Itza and the Egyptian pyramids looked at from the Sphinx, are all monuments created by early man to take advantage of the solstice's and equinox's sun. In those days, the heavens were their only guides. These things mattered in their lives. Time was told by the sun, navigation was configured by the stars and crops were planted by the moon phase. Tides came in and went out according to the moon. Astrological signs governed man's progress long ago. In ancient times the sun, moon and stars furnished the constants in their lives. They put a lot of faith in these signs. The concept of the solstices was firmly set by ancient Greek celestial navigation. When they discovered that the Earth was round, it set about whole new revolutionary thinking that opens up more discoveries every year. The zodiac became very important to them. Some people even now, believe in the zodiac signs; it is written in the stars. Science today has moved on, but our four seasons remain in our thinking today, even in Florida.

I discovered that there are two version of the Farmer's Almanac, they both detail the "astrological signs for planting, the Farmer's Calendar for planting, as well as new, useful, and entertaining matter." I have friends in the American Hibiscus Society that read and follow these books successfully. Many farmers do, too. I am too lazy to try and figure it all out, and my body says to do things in my timing, which isn't always successful. To obtain the best crop results, plant when the moon is both in the correct month and zodiac sign. If your crops fail, just blame it on the moon.

Plants need to know when to flower and fruit before their life cycle diminishes. This process is caused by photoperiodism, a reaction to the length of day or night, and governed by the hours of darkness, not daylight. There are long-day plants and short-day plants, and then we have regular day-neutral plants. Long-day plants are where a plant requires less hours of darkness in each 24 hours to start blooming, and are now peaking, as they are getting ready to set blooms to fruit. This is how flower growers manipulate getting the right bloom for the season, like poinsettias and lilies.

We are now entering the short-day plant season where nights grow longer. The natural nighttime light of the moonlight or lightening, are not sufficiently bright enough or of any duration to disturb their setting up for flowering. They begin to flower after June 21 as the days grow shorter. Some short-day plant favorites are chrysanthemums, coffee, poinsettias and roselle for the Florida cranberry.

Long-day plants usually bloom during early spring and summer, as the daylight grows longer, up until June 21. Some long-day plants are carnations, ryegrass, peas, lettuce and turnips. Ryegrass is good for seeding your lawns over the winter while your basic grass dies back. It in turn, dies back come summer and the longer days.

Not all plants worry about the length of nighttime hours, these are day-neutral plants like cucumbers, tomatoes and roses. Their response is in the environmental stimuli, like cold weather turning warm, or just development of age, being old enough to bloom.

Night blooming plants are pollinated by bats, beetles and moths. The idea being that night pollinators and night bloomers have co-evolved in a symbiotic relationship. Daytime bloomers have birds, bees and butterflies.

Which reminds me, we are at the end of National Pollinators week, June 16-22. We need to recognize their importance in pollinating for the health of our ecosystems as well as our own survival.

What makes the world go 'round? Science says the sun's gravitational pull, in my heart I know God has a hand in it.

Also, thank a tree for our fresh air.

Joyce Comingore is a Master Gardener, hibiscus enthusiast and member of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.



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