July 2012
Howle's Hints

Garden Times Three...Time for Ticks...and Vinegar

"I’ve read the last page of the Bible. It’s all going to turn out all right."— Billy Graham.

July is upon us and maybe you are ready for a break from the hayfields. If you decide to take the family on an out-of-town trip, saving on the fuel bill is high on the list of priorities. We see the average MPG, miles-per-gallon, rating on the side windows of new cars, but a few folks I’ve recently talked with weren’t sure how to determine a vehicle’s gas mileage performance. When I hear someone say, "I can go so and so miles on a tank of gas," it helps to know how many gallons the tank holds.

Fuel Formula

An easier way to determine your vehicle’s gas mileage is with a simple math formula. Divide the number of miles driven after a fill up by the number of gallons it takes to refill the tank. First, fill your tank up to full, and press the trip meter so the number is zero. Drive your usual routes until it is time to fill up again. Fill the tank completely full, and do the math. For example, if you fill up and drive 300 miles and it takes 20 gallons to refill, you divide 300 by 20, and you get 15. This translates to getting 15 miles per gallon and gives your vehicle a 15 mpg rating.

After you’ve picked the corn, you can plant peas.


After the peas, plow them under and plant your greens.


To get triple-duty out of your garden, harvest the corn, plow it under and plant peas.

Triple Cropping

I love to get triple double-duty out of my small garden. Once the corn has matured and been picked, I will cut a few healthy stalks to save in the barn loft for an October yard display.

Then, you can replow the garden where the corn was and plant peas.

Peas germinate easily in the hot, July soil. Furthermore, since peas are legumes, their nitrogen-fixing potential helps build the soil. Finally, you should have a good crop of late-season peas to put up before fall. Once the peas have matured and built the soil from their nitrogen-fixing roots, you can plant your winter greens for the third round of crop production.

Fruit for Wildlife

July is a great time to scout your property for fruit and nut bearing trees that attract wildlife. With the mild winter most of our state experienced, there should be plenty of trees on your property producing hard and soft mast. Here are some of top producers to look for.


In July, the persimmon fruit will be green, but later turn to purplish-orange.

Persimmon trees have bark that is dark-colored and deeply divided into thick, square plates. The reddish-purple fruit is edible and quite tasty when ripe. In Alabama, the fruit ripens late-August to late-September. Now is the time to locate these trees on your hunting property. During July, the tree limbs will be heavy laden with fruit. The fruit draws wildlife like raccoons, deer, fox, hogs, opossums and coyotes. Deer can be seen standing on their hind legs eating the fruit not yet fallen.

For hard mast producers, look to white oaks and chestnut oaks (often called post oaks because they were commonly used for making fence posts). In addition, water oaks and red oaks, which produce acorns every other year, are preferred by deer, turkeys and squirrels.

Time out for Ticks

Ticks can pose health risks like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever during the summer months. The odds of getting these diseases are slim, especially if the tick is removed within the first few hours or that night. Remove the tick with blunt tweezers making sure to grasp it firmly at the base of the head. Once removed, wash the area with soap and water, and apply an antiseptic.

Methods like applying a heated match head or Vaseline can cause the tick to regurgitate harmful agents into the skin. If you know you are going to be in the woods, be sure to spray down with a bug spray containing DEET. This helps repel ticks before they attack.WD-40

The hot days of July can really cause the front of your vehicle to gum up with bug splatters and road work this time of year can cause tar splatters on your paint. WD-40 works well to remove bug splatters and road tar from the front and sides of your vehicle. In addition, use WD-40 to clean and protect your steel fertilizer spreader after each use.


Vinegar has many health and household benefits. Slice your cucumbers thin and soak them in white vinegar for a tangy summer treat. Spray your windows and windshields with one part vinegar and two parts water and wipe clean with old newspapers or paper towels. Finally, vinegar is a natural cleanser.

According to a recent article, "Vinegar Kills Bacteria, Mold and Germs" by Annie Bond, a Heinz representative, Michael Mullin, stated studies have shown a 5 percent solution of vinegar kills 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold, and 80 percent of germs and viruses. He said Heinz can’t claim on the packaging that vinegar is a disinfectant because it has not been registered with the EPA as a pesticide. If vinegar doesn’t clean well enough for you, hydrogen peroxide is another user-friendly cleanser.

This July, take a break from the garden and hayfields to enjoy the fruits of summer. If you are reading this magazine, you are obviously a hardworking person who deserves a break. Remember the words of Billy Graham, "It’s all going to turn out all right."

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.