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My lilac trees are old and tall;

I cannot reach their bloom at all.

They send their perfume over trees

And roofs and streets, to find the bees.

–Louise Driscoll (1875–1957)



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Folklore

When spiders build new webs, the weather will be clear.

Listen for the sound of the first cicadas. The first frost of the year will occur about three months later.

An open anthill indicates good weather; a closed one, an approaching storm.

When the down of a dandelion contracts, it is a sign of rain.

The sunflower raising its head indicates rain.

For decades, we have carefully
separated the vegetable garden, the herb garden, and the flower garden
— sort of like kids not liking to have the peas touch the potatoes on
their plates. Now, as we deal with smaller spaces and less time, we
still want it all, but not with the maintenance demands of three
separate gardens. To reduce your workload, try a simple mixed
vegetable/herb/flower garden this year. You may be surprised by the
results.

Sincerely, The Old Farmer’s Almanac

P.S. Please visit our brand-new blogs about everything Almanac. Comment on random reflections, advice, and ideas from the editors of The Old Farmer’s Almanac.

MEMORIAL DAY (May 26)

The custom of honoring ancestors by cleaning cemetery grounds and
decorating graves is an ancient and worldwide tradition, but the
specific origins of Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it was first
known, are unclear. After the Civil War, America’s need for a secular,
patriotic ceremony to honor its military dead became prominent, as
monuments to fallen soldiers were erected and dedicated, and ceremonies
centering on the decoration of soldiers’ graves were held in towns and
cities throughout the nation. For many years, states observed the
holiday on different dates. By federal law, however, Memorial Day is
now celebrated on the last Monday in May.

Spread a little lime or wood ashes around delphiniums and peonies.

Divide
late-summer or autumn-flowering perennials. If necessary, go after
phlox and artemisia with a sharp spade or even an ax. If delphiniums
need to be divided, remove and replant the new little plants growing
around the outside of the main clump. Discard the hard old heart.

Trim climbing roses and attach securely to fences or trellises.

Scatter crushed eggshells in a thick ring around roses to deter slugs.

For
midsummer bloom, sow annual poppies and baby’s breath in borders by
scattering thPublish entrye seeds between the other plants, covering with fine soil,
and tamping down gently.

Stake
up those tall, spiky bloomers — balloon flowers, delphiniums,
monkshood, Shasta daisies, and veronica. Use thin bamboo or metal
stakes to support vertical clusters. Surround group plantings with four
wooden stakes, and then tie a string around the entire mass.

If you don’t have a garden but still want fresh flowers and produce, visit a Farmers’ Market near you.

If you have a gardening question, visit our Gardening Forum or search our Gardening Pages.

Memorial
Day is the beginning of summer and picnic fun. In an old book from our
library, published in 1876, the author suggests the following food
items for a successful picnic: “Pasties [meat turnovers],
sausage-rolls, sandwiches, puffs, tartlets, lobsters, salad, cakes,
fruits, and rolls and cheese, cut up, are the best kind of things in
the way of food. . . . And pray remember two things: the salt and the
corkscrew.”

Here are a few of our favorite picnic dishes that will feed a crowd.

Main-Dish Picnic Biscuits
Bread and filling all in one. Perfect for a picnic lunch.

Picnic Scalloped Potatoes
Make this ahead and bring along to the picnic.

Spicy Grilled Beef With Black-Bean Salsa
If you want something with a kick, try this easy-to-prepare beef dish.

Spinach-Strawberry Salad
Everyone will love our favorite summer salad.

Lemon Sugar Cookies
Easy to transport, and the perfect ending to a picnic.

For more picnic recipes, visit The Old Farmer’s Kitchen.

To find out how many hot dogs or how much potato salad you will need to feed anywhere from 12 to 65 people, go to our Meals to Feed a Crowd chart.

We hope you found this newsletter “new, useful, and entertaining” – just like The Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Thanks for reading and sharing it.
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© 2008, Yankee Publishing Inc. All rights reserved
Yankee Publishing Inc., P.O. Box 520, Dublin, NH 03444, USA, (603) 563-8111

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