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Tomatoes for home use should be planted by now
 
Poor Will’s Almanack
By Bill Felker
 
 And wide around, the marriage of the plants is sweetly solemnized. Then flows amain
The surge of summer’s beauty; dell and crag, hollow and lake, hillside and pine arcade, are touched with genius. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Musketaquid”

The Third Week of Late Spring
The Week of the Last-Frost Moon

In the Sky
The Milky Way fills the western horizon as Orion sets just behind the sun. Now the middle of the heavens are in their prime spring planting position, Castor and Pollux to the west, Leo with its bright Regulus directly overhead, and Arcturus dominating the east. At midnight, the brightest star overhead is Arcturus, the brightest western star is Regulus, and the brightest light in the east is Vega.
By April 16th, the sun reaches a declination of 10 degrees four minutes: that’s about 70 percent of the way to summer solstice. April 21 marks halfway between equinox and solstice.

The Moons of May:
May 15: The Honeybee Swarming Moon enters its second quarter.
May 23: The moon is full.
May 30: The moon enters its final quarter.

Weather Trends
High temperatures are usually above 60 degrees the week ahead, with the chances of 70s or better rising to 70 percent, a 10 percent increase over last week’s chances. A high in the 50s occurs rarely, but if it does appear, it is typically on the 21st and 24th.
Chances of frost are usually low, but tender plants are in some danger after the passage of May’s fourth cold front on the 15th and fifth cold front on the 20th, and especially around Full Moon, May 23, the Last-Frost Moon of the first half of the year, which occasionally nips tomatoes and bedding plants throughout the Lower Midwest.

The Natural Calendar
All the clovers come into bloom, along with the small black medic, purple vetch, and the weedy yellow and white sweet clover, in all but the northernmost states. When the clovers bloom, flea season begins for dogs, cats, goats, cattle, horses and sheep.
Ragweed has grown two feet tall, crickets sing, and cow vetch, wild parsnips, poison hemlock, angelica, motherwort, wild roses, locusts, blackberries and yarrow flower. The last of the leaves come out for summer. In the salt marshes of the South, fiddler crabs emerge from their tunnels in the creeks and estuaries.
Then when azaleas lose their petals, daisies and the first clematis and the first cinquefoil open all the way, the first strawberry ripens, and the first swallowtail butterflies visit the star of Bethlehem and bleeding hearts. The last quince flowers fall, and lilacs decay.
Multiflora roses and wild raspberries are budding. Black walnuts and oaks become the major sources of pollen. Deep red ginger has replaced the toad trillium close to the ground, around the fingers of white sedum. Cedar waxwings migrate up the rivers as the last buckeye flowers fall. Half the goslings are bigger than galoshes. 

Countdown to Summer 
• One week until the first orange daylilies blossom
• Two weeks until roses flower
• Three weeks until the first mulberries are sweet for picking and cottonwood cotton drifts in the wind
• Four weeks until wild black raspberries ripen
• Five weeks until fledgling robins peep in the bushes and fireflies mate in the night
• Six weeks until cicadas chant in the hot and humid days
• Seven weeks until thistles turn to down
• Eight weeks until sycamore bark starts to fall, marking the center of Deep Summer
• Nine weeks to the season of singing crickets and katydids after dark
• 10 weeks until ragweed pollen floats in the wind

In the Field and Garden
In the garden, remove seedpods from daffodils and tulips. The first zucchini ripens and elderberries start to bloom. When the first firefly glows in the lawn, flea beetles come feeding in the vegetable garden.
Consider adding to your lily collection now or transplanting groups of lilies that have become too thick.
In an average spring, strawberry growers have been harvesting their berries all week. Just as all the corn gets planted, the armyworms and corn borers go to work. They appear in fields throughout the country this month.
Haying ordinarily has started throughout the southern counties of the region.
The major commercial planting time for cantaloupes and cucumbers has begun. Most of the commercial potatoes and processing tomatoes have been planted by this date – and all tomatoes for home use should be in the ground as well.
Almanack Classics
Sisters in the Muck
by Gail Denman, Patriot, Ind.
When I was small, my family lived on a hog farm near Pendleton, Ind. The field next to the house would flood every fall after harvest, and it would freeze in the winter.
There were four of us kids still at home, and we had a lot of fun on that ice. One year in March, just right before spring, I got it into my head to go out there and see if that ice was still hard enough for skating.
I got about 20 feet into the field and started to sink into the mud. Before I could get turned around, I was stuck!
It never occurred to me that the ground was thawed. I yelled “Help! Somebody help me!” But nobody came. My dad was way back in the barn, and the rest of the family was in the house.
Finally, after what seemed hours later, my sister came out looking for me. When she found me, I was sunk into my knees.
“Stay there,” she said, “I’ll save you!”
Well, my sister was a little bigger than me, so she sunk faster, and she got stuck, too.
Dad was returning to the house for dinner, and there he found us stuck and hollering for help. He came out and pulled us out of the mud, and threw us over his shoulders and returned us to safety. He had to go back out in the field to get our boots.
My sister and I ran back to the house and hid in our room for fear of getting a lickin’. I never ice skated in that field again!

ANSWERS TO LAST WEEK’S SCKRAMBLER

ERVECL CLEVER
VEER EVER 
REELV LEVER 
VEREN NEVER 
EEAORVDN ENDEAVOR
EEORVWH HOWEVER
WHNVREEE WHENEVER
EEARVTWH WHATEVER
EREVIHHCW           WHICHEVER
REVES SEVER

THIS WEEK’S RHYMING SCKRAMBLER
ECA
EPACS
EFAFEC
ESAHC
EAERS
UAECLN
EAVS
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AMEC

In order to estimate your SCKRAMBLER IQ, award yourself 15 points for each word unscrambled, adding a 50-point bonus for getting all of them correct. If you find a typo, add another 15 points to your IQ. Yes, you are a genius.
Copyright 2024 – W. L. Felker
5/14/2024