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August is here again

August 11, 2017
By JOYCE COMINGORE ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

"And from the hot field's farthest edge

The cricket's soft refrain

With mellow accent tells the tale

That August's here again."

- by Helen Maria Winslow (1851-1938)

I'm believing the posts that say 2017, near the midpoint for the year, is the second hottest year on record. A surprise, given because there was no El Nino this year to boost the record levels as we had last year. The Paris Climate Agreement, which the president has pledged to pull the U.S. out from, set a goal for the year of limiting warming to under 2 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). After figuring our present temperature of 1.81 degrees F. (1.01 degrees C.), NASA and NOAA (National Oceanic Atmosphere Administration) data for June 2017, this leaves us little wiggle room to expand.

Our constantly rainy afternoons are making jungles out of our landscapes. Heat and moisture basically provide everything needed for growth except fertilizer. Rains leach out that fertilizer needed for this time of year. County and local governmental ordinances, making it illegal to use nitrogen and phosphorus from June 1 to Sept. 30, have been in effect since 2013-2014. Because this run-off ends up in our nearby waterways, polluting them, giving us red tide and algae growth, killing fish, making excessive vegetation and smothering all else, we have tried to compensate for this by banning the contributing factors, nitrogen and phosphorous.

A wise Florida gardener avoids going out in the noonday sun (unlike mad dogs and Englishmen), but if you must weed those jungles, wear hats and stay hydrated. Tip over all containers holding standing water that breeds mosquitoes. This is the time to relax and stay indoors for air conditioning, maybe planning your future yard challenges. Stop doing and start learning.

The hurricane season, which is upon us, is listed as lasting from June 1 to Nov. 30, which accounts for the rainy season. The good news is, I heard a weather person predicting no devastating hurricanes in this season's scheme of things. So, the beating rain goes on.

New research by the University of Florida indicates fertilizer may not make its way to that run-off as easily as originally thought. Granted, those nutrients do contribute to red tide and algae bloom, but landscapers are at a loss in feeding golf courses and keeping tip-top lush landscapes this time of year. Sandy soils don't hold the nutrients well, leaching as they go through. The peak of feeding needs to be at the growing season, and our rain and heat are providing that. A 7-year research by the university found when fertilizer is applied properly, at appropriate rates, timing and methods to healthy turf grass, the grass can take up virtually all the nitrogen. University professor Laurie Trenholm conducted the studies and states that, "the fertilizer bans are not based on the science we now have;" the conflict arises, do we or don't we. As long as there are laws that must be followed, we follow them. Education is now necessary to change them.

Wait until next month before starting any gardens.

Recently I beat feet to Sanibel and the "Ding" Darling Refuge. I was trying to beat the deadline of Aug. 28 for getting my $10 Lifetime Senior Pass to all National Parks. After the 28th, it will increase to $80. I am over 62 and it entitles me to take 3 others, senior or not, into the parks with me. The passes cover entrance and standard amenity (day-use) recreation fees, provide discounts on some expanded amenity recreation fees. I went to the gift shop cash register, which was doing a steady pace of selling them. Just had to show my driver's license and sign the pass in front of the cashier. Cousins in other states have told me their parks have run out and they need to jump through hoops to get theirs. Now, I'm on a crusade to save the National Parks as they are, untouched by exploiters.

You all know of my love of trees and their benefits. I found research by Professor T.M. Das of the University of Calcutta stating a 50-year-old tree is worth $193,250. It will generate $31,250 worth of oxygen; will provide $62,000 worth of air pollution control; control soil erosion; increase soil fertility to the tune of $31,250; recycle $37,500 worth of water; provide homes for animals worth $31,250. Of course, this figure does not include the value of fruits, lumber or beauty derived from the trees. Just another sensible reason to take care of our forests.

There is a statement going around, saying, "Maybe actually plants are farming us, giving us oxygen until we eventually decompose and they can consume us."

Food for thought?

When hugging a tree, an exercise I thoroughly endorse, remember to tell them you love them and their benefits, thank them!

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



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