August 2012 Newsletter
News From Them Thar Hills!
Volume 3, Issue 8, August 2012
Dog Days Are Here!
The term ”dog days” seems to have originated from the ancient Romans’ observations of the constellations Canis Major and Minor. The brightest star in theses constellations is Sirius, which also happens to be the brightest star in the night sky. During the summer, Sirius rises and sets with the sun. This initiated the belief of the Romans that the star contributed to the extreme heat at this time of the year. Thus the 20 days fore and aft of conjunction were called the dog days of summer. One of the definitions of dog days in Marion Webster’s dictionary is “a period of stagnation.”
I know that the heat and humidity of this time of year certainly gives rise to feelings of stagnation for some. Personally, I find it a great time to be outside! The heat helps to focus on the task at hand, obliterating distractions of mind and spirit. This concentration serves as a cathartic salve for the agitation of the modern world and all of it’s disruptive influence. Hands in soil, on tool or caressing beast is that which can soothe the savage soul. The sun’s emanations causes the blood to flow and the pores to open, secreting the contaminants and anxieties absorbed within to exude and drip down into the waiting soil where they are consumed and forgotten, if only for the moment. At times, brief moments of clarity are that which retains sanity within our grasp. We certainly could use a bit more of that at present!
One of the less subtle effects of the increased heat is increased water needs of plants. We have had sporadic showers here but nothing near what we need. If you have plants that need watering in your absence, you should contact us so we can set that up. Lack of water and increased heat brings a great deal of stress to bear on landscape plantings. A nice healthy plant can turn ugly in just a short time under these conditions. Don’t wait until the leaves are brown and in a pile on the ground! If you are going to be up and need to water, remember that infrequent, deep watering is the way to go. A small stream of water from a hose placed at the base of the plant is the key. Give it time to fully saturate and go deep! You plants will thank you for it! You have but to listen.
As we wend our way through summer and fall approaches, our thoughts turn to landscape improvements. If you are thinking of having some work done, now is the time to start planning. Waiting to plant until the weather turns cooler in the fall results in less stress for the plants. Water needs are generally decreased. In the case of cold, blowing winds the water needs may increase. We don’t usually get those type of winds up here.
During the winter the top growth of the plants slows or goes dormant. This allows the roots to predominate the growth cycle. When planting, we add special types of amendments to the soil that not only assist with root establishment, but in acquiring the minerals and water that will be needed for the robust springtime cycle. One of these amendments is mycorrhizal fungi. We apply a mixture of several different species of this fungus in spore form, as well as some specialized bacteria, to the plant hole prior to placement of the plant. Once the spores come into contact with the root and their exudates, they germinate and colonize the root in one of two different ways. Endo Mycorrhizae spores actually penetrate the root and then send out fungal filaments, called hyphae, into the surrounding soil. Ecto Mycorrhizae form on the exterior of the root surface and are associated predominately with hardwoods and conifers. In both cases the hyphae extend outward into the surrounding soil and collect moisture and nutrients, returning them back to the plant roots for consumption. “What does the fungus get in return?” you may ask. As in all symbiotic relationships, there is always some form of equivalent exchange. In this case the plant, through photosynthesis, produces sugars which move downward through the plant to the roots as exudates which in turn feed the attached fungal mass. In a healthy soil with a robust fungal population there can be several miles of fungal filaments in a single thimble of soil!
Of course the spring is also cool, so why the emphasis on fall and winter plantings? Winter allows the root mass to expand while the top growth sleeps. Winter is followed by the somewhat warmer, but still cool, temperatures of spring. This allows the acclimation of the plant into a cycle of growth which will prepare it for summer’s onslaught of heat and a general decrease of available moisture. Spring plantings must support both upward and downward growth. While still in this pattern, summer’s heat can cause excess transpiration which places a fair amount of stress on the plant and greatly increases the need for regular supplemental watering regimens. It can be done but it takes more effort and can increase associated costs.
The bottom line is, this is the time for the planning stage of fall landscaping activities. Think about what you want to do and get with us so we can work together to improve and beautify your property. Cindy has her graph paper ready, is dusting off her protractor and sharpening her no. 2 pencil!
Here are some links for events in Towns, Union and Fannin Counties as well as the surrounding area.
Benefit for Corbin Gibson
Corbin Gibson is the son of one of Complete Home Services’ employees, Jessica. He was hospitalized at Scottish Rites Children’s Hospital in Atlanta. He was being treated for MRSA and had several operations over a 2 week period. He has returned home while completing an antibiotic regimen, hopefully on his way to recovery. He will need more surgeries and skin grafts as well. At 7 years of age, he faces a long recovery period and some adjustment to his affected arm.
A benefit has been scheduled for Saturday, August 18th at The Lodge at Copperhead, from 1—5 p.m. in order to help with the expenses associated with his ordeal. The event will be held outdoors with a silent auction, raffle, live music and a performance by a Stunt Motorcycle Rider.
You can meet Corbin and his family there and see a photo album of his hospital stay as well. All forms of support would be greatly appreciated.
…a note from Cindy
Today is August 3rd and school has started here in Union County.It seems to be earlier every year.I hope you have made it to the farmers market this summer, I do think it is a terrific market with a nice variety of goods. Surely you can find room to eat one more summer squash!As summer winds down and the frequency of your visits to your mountain home may become less, remember a few important things to keep your home secure.Put some lights on timers, keep your yard maintained, make sure all doors and windows are locked.If you do not have us to check your house periodically please have a neighbor do so.We are still seeing break ins, the economy here is still down and this area is known as a vacation area.If you live on the lake they are slowly starting to pull the lake so keep an eye on that dock.If you hire us to check on it we will be starting to monitor it quite closely until we are at winter pool.Have a great August and stay cool!