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Gardening Tips: July in September: Mother Nature should make up her mind

September 7, 2018 11:59 am Updated: September 7, 2018 12:11 pm


Last week I wrote about a species of “giant mosquitoes” that prey on other, smaller species. My friend Lester said that I should clarify that these are not the large, non-biting crane flies, which I have always called “Jersey Mosquitoes.” Crane flies do indeed look like giant mosquitoes and they often enter homes and terrify unknowing residents, but they do not bite at all!

It feels more like mid-July than mid-September as I wrote this on Wednesday, September 7. My indoor/outdoor thermometer reads 92 degrees outside and the relative humidity is 80 percent.

As awful as this feels now, many of you will long for some warmth in January when it is zero, or even colder!

I plan to be in Florida this winter as I have been for the past five years or so. Due to a month of above average rainfall, it is a banner year for all sorts of wild flowers, fruit and especially “mast.”

Mast is the collective term for wild fruit, berries, seeds and nuts that wildlife feed on. This is good news for wild animals and also for us who live in bear country.

Black bears are much less likely to be raiding bird feeders and other human provided food stuffs when there is such an abundance from nature.

I harvested my best crop of peaches ever, close to a bushel, this week and they were fully ripened on the tree. I did run two strands of electric fence wire around the tree and that may have deterred our local bear. Deer, of course, are a different story.

They are curious creatures and they often sample anything and everything they see that is “new” and smells like food. You don’t need to put up a deer fence to protect small plantings. All you need to do is put chicken wire on the ground surrounding it.

Deer will not tread on chicken wire or even window screen, but they will jump over it to reach larger areas of food. Turkeys also will not tread on chicken wire placed on the ground.

It is also a great year for goldenrod, purple loosestrife and Japanese knotweed. Invasion biologists hate both the exotic knotweed and purple loosestrife, but the beekeepers whose bees are furiously working these flowers are having a very good season also. No terrestrial plant is without some ecological benefit, regardless of its country of origin.

I have not seen too many honeybees on my property but the native bumblebees are more than abundant. I counted 20 of them on less than a half dozen goldenrod plants in my yard.

The orange flowered jewelweed has been another favorite the past few weeks but now most of the flowers are gone. Bumblebees can completely enter the jewelweed flowers only to emerge a few seconds later, almost covered with yellow pollen. The newly formed seedpods provide the other common name for Jewelweed, and that is “Touch me Not.” This is due to fact that the mature Jewelweed seedpods explode when lightly touched, shooting their tiny seeds as much as ten feet in all directions. This is a great fun activity for kids of all ages and their grandparents too!

I seem to be able to relate more to kids the older I get. I now enjoy ice cream as much as any 6 year old and find myself indulging my ice cream sweet tooth much more than I did 20 or 30 years ago. Grandparents also make great babysitters because they often enjoy the same TV shows as toddlers.

Sept. 13 would have been my father’s 105th birthday. Sixty five years ago he brought me to these Catskill Mountains, from Jersey City, where we lived. Even then, at the age of 3, I knew that someday I would live here.

The day after I graduated from Rutgers University, in 1972, I moved here full time and I have never regretted that decision. We are fortunate to live in a region that will shortly be sporting the most beautiful fall scenery found on earth.

The downside to all this flowering activity is that airborne pollen has been bothering my eyes lately.

Although goldenrod is often blamed for fall allergies, the fact is that goldenrod pollen is too heavy to be airborne, which is one reason why the bees are gathering so much of it.

The main culprit right now is ragweed, which bears inconspicuous green flowers that shed lots of invisible pollen to torment allergy sufferers.

This too will pass, as September races by with its fleeting remains of a very hot summer.

Reach Bob Beyfuss at