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Hot, hot, hot

July 19, 2019
By JOYCE COMINGORE - Garden Club of Cape Coral ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

I was going to call this article, "Christmas in July," but Jean used it last week. As Jean stated, ads are popping up at us full of "Christmas in July." It is surely not about the second coming of Christ, for Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ; anyway, the birthdate is a calculated date made up to coincide with a pagan holiday, disguising the fact they were Christians. No, this is a secular contrast to the spiritual event being exploited as a marketing opportunity mid-year to uplift a slack in the marketing situation. Nothing causes shoppers to spend money between the Fourth of July and September's back to school clothing sales; hence, retailers created a new reason to shop, reaching out to us to spend money.

It can be celebrated various weekends at various locations the entire month of July. It is not to be confused with Half Christmas, celebrated on June 25, exactly six months before Christmas. The weather differs by the hemisphere in which we reside. We are in the Northern Hemisphere, giving us snow in December, while the Southern Hemisphere has snow now, giving them a reason to celebrate Christmas in July. Why snow is of importance escapes me, there was none on the ground at the birth of Jesus. Maybe Christmas should be celebrated in July. We seem to feel the Christmas should have snow on the ground. Living in the South, we really don't care that much. Snow? What's that? Only

transplanted northerners remember.

The "true meaning of Christmas" phrase appeared mid-19th century when a more secular culture prevailed. Then the birth of Christ shifted from spiritual to Santa and gift exchanges. Are we rushing the "season?" Some people leave their tree up all year round and decorate according to the nearest holiday. Christmas in July is definitely a marketing ploy, but I'll take a sale any way they come.

Right now, not much is going on in the garden. It's too hot out there to work. My son-in-law mowed my lawn by 9 a.m. to catch some cool time. The important thing is to stay hydrated. The rains seem to be prevalent, helping to make it a jungle out there. Thank goodness for a lull time in gardening. Stay inside, sip a lemonade or whatever, and find a neighbor or a friend with a swimming pool.

Pests seem to be having their field days, so they make for an activity to keep us busy. It's too hot for the ants and they want to make it inside my house. Lawzy me, it's a struggle (arm thrown over my forehead). It's even too hot to be a drama queen.

The rains are washing out the fertilizer, but don't add more. Don't "Feed the Monster." The fertilizing law says, wait 'til September. The rains will keep things growing. There are thousands of plants able to grow here, so maybe a little time spent studying their needs would help, or just relax, let them grow and let nature take its course. Plan on starting your gardens again in September. I know that plants become

a jungle out there, you can just whip them into shape in cooler times. My gardening son-in-law says his okra is not standing up; he almost has to stake it. So, relax, read up on all the latest trends in gardening, sip your liquid cooler.

I'm curious about Cape Coral's zoning laws. I understand Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed into law S-B 82, where local governments can no longer ban homeowners from growing vegetables anywhere on their property, vegetables in their front lawn. That's an interesting thought. I have a mango tree hanging over the street in front of my house whose mangoes like to droop over the roadway. People love to help themselves to the fruit I can no longer claim as my own. Wonder if they would pick vegetables out of my front lawn? I don't have the strength to do a vegetable garden now, anyway, but it's nice to know it's my right to grow vegetables there. My son-in-law bought the empty lot next to them to grow his garden and I reap the benefits of his too much produce.

I usually recommend now as the time to do solar coverings to solarize the garden. Plastic over the gardening area helping the heat to sterilize the garden soil. Two whole months is a lot of solarizing, but keeping weeds down in this slow gardening time helps with my frame of mind and muscles. Gives us plenty of time to organize our needs.

With all this rain, you could plant trees to take advantage of the free water in the rains. Mine is being collected in my rain barrel. Find out when rain barrels are available through FYN programs. We have them the first Friday of the month at Rotary Park. Planting trees on the south side of your home helps with cooling your home. I have over $160 for this month's electric bill. Need to check my thermostat.

We have entered hurricane season. Are you prepared? You may think you need to "hurricane" prune your palms. The old thinking was to remove all fronds except the youngest few to create a more wind resistant palm, making them very unsightly. Not so. Do remove dead fronds, but leave on as many healthy fronds as possible to help support the palm nutritionally through this crisis. A healthy palm should have a 360-degree canopy of leaves, from the 3 o'clock to 9 o'clock position. Pruning the flowers instead of the heavy fruit stalk saves time and labor.

If you can't safely prune your palm tree, hire a certified arborist to finish the job. A person trained in proper pruning techniques, safety, and up to date on the latest recommendations through continuing education classes. Find one by visiting the International Society of Arboriculture online. Check out Pruning Palms. UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions or Pruning Palms, UF/IFAS EDIS.

You can hug a palm, just not during a hurricane.

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



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