July is a month of conflicting forces that give human activity direction. Vegetable gardens are well established by now, ready for the strong growing season. July through August provide the most sunlight of any other months of the year. Sunlight coupled with ample water and nutrition (fertilizer) are the ticket for ample production for the table. Once the bean stakes are put in and watering system on summer schedule, yard work demands could slack off. Gardening duties are especially tempting to put aside when sunny skies and warm temperatures lure avid hikers and bird watchers to the forests and hills.
Remember: July is a month for day hikes but not camping in the high mountains. The lingering snow patches in the High Cascades keep snowmelt ponds flooded for mosquito breeding. They will be active until frosts begin. The first mountain frosts are variable from year to year. Typically, the mosquito populations taper off by the end of August.
Although there has been a decline in the number of homes using firewood as a major heating source, wood heating has its advocates. Cutting up a downed tree in the front yard and stacking it to season this month saves having trucks haul it away. Stacking this month is important. All our hardwoods need a long summer protected from rain to be good quality for home heating this winter. Oak, maple and ash that has not been split will take a second summer to dry enough for minimum smoke pollution effects.
David Wagner is a botanist who works in Eugene. He teaches moss classes, leads nature walks and makes nature calendars. He can be contacted through his website, fernzenmosses.com.