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Dog Days of Summer

by Rebekah Heppner, Master Gardener Volunteer Trainee

Wikipedia says that the dog days of summer refers to “the period following the heliacal rising of the star system Sirius, which Hellenistic astrology connected with heat, drought, sudden thunderstorms, lethargy, fever, mad dogs, and bad luck.” I can definitely relate to that, but Wikipedia also says the dog days ended August 11th. Clearly, no one lived in Florida during the Hellenistic period.

dog at the beachWhy is it that plants here don’t seem to get the lethargy part of the dog days? It would be much nicer if they would grow in the winter when I don’t mind being out there to clip and trim shrubs and pull weeds. My plants insist on honoring the seasons, so I spend a little time in the garden every day, always mindful to drink plenty of water. Then what? What do I do with the rest of my gardening time when it is really and sincerely too hot to be outside? I came up with some ideas that I’d like to share, in case you are faced with the same dilemma (with handy links to more information, as usual).

Here are my top ten gardening “tasks” to do in the summer:

  1. Study that list of Latin/Greek plant names I made a couple months ago and forgot about.
  2. Watch the birds and squirrels duke it out over the feeders which I can see from my office window.
  3. Read one (or more) of those books that I was given at the beginning of my Master Gardener training last year and forgot about.
  4. Plan my fall vegetable garden.
  5. Start some seeds for my fall vegetable garden.
  6. Work on my CEUs by watching the conveniently recorded Master Gardener webinars.
  7. Watch “Fantastic Fungi” on Netflix again.
  8. Watch “Intelligent Trees” on Prime Video for the third time.
  9. Watch “The Mind of Plants” if I can ever figure out what streaming service it is on.
  10. Get out a calendar and start marking off the days, prisoner-style, until fall. When is fall in Pinellas County, anyway?