August 2023 Nature Almanac

deep pink Zinnia blossom
Deep pink Zinnia in full bloom.

Here in Philadelphia…

The heat wave marches on, And I’m counting the days until the end of the dog days and the return of the cool nights. Knowing the Earth will tilt and begin to cool has been what has helped me through the hot, humid, days.

my garden braving the heat
My garden braving the heat

My Backyard Garden

My garden is chugging along. I’ve harvested many cherry tomatoes, sweet peppers, cucumbers, green beans, lettuce, chard, carrots, radishes, crookneck and zucchini squashes.

I spend at least one half hour in the cool early morning air caring for the plants. They are doing well, and braving the heat. I keep the bird waterer and a large plant saucer filled with water. The squirrels are eating cherry tomatoes. The juicy centers are filled with moisture and seeds.

Since I added vegetables and fruit to my backyard garden, I’ve noticed even more species living and visiting.

Like whoever ate the Amaranth and riddled the leaves with tiny holes. I could never find out what insect was the culprit. Perhaps they feed at night. I cut all the damaged leaves off the plants – one by one. The leaves are growing back but I see new holes.

Amaranth is a native edible green. And loves the summer heat. It grows in summer when other cool season greens die off. Swiss chard and Amaranth are my go-to greens which don’t mind the heat.

wilted Zucchini eaten by squash vine borer.
wilted Zucchini eaten by squash vine borer.


I got a few zucchini. I cooked them on the backyard grill to avoid turning on the kitchen stove. But then mid-July arrived and the voracious squash vine borer chewed the insides on the main stem. The plant wilted and zucchini season is over. I just roll with the bunches. I plan for the mid-July death of any summer squash I grow. I’ll plant a quick maturing summer squash in the next few days.

squash vine borer damage
Zucchini chewed from the inside causing wilting and death.


The ‘Mosquito Bucket’ is on duty. I haven’t caught the big numbers of mosquito larvae as last summer. But I think that is do to the elimination of so many from my garden last year. I also carry a spray bottle of insecticidal soap in the garden and spray any mosquito that comes sniffing around me. The Asian Tiger Mosquitoes (with black and white striped legs) deliver painful bites.

Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, beginning its blood-meal
Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, beginning its blood-meal. Credit: James Gathany, CDC, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Mosquito Bucket information and instructions are toward the end of August 2022 Nature Almanac.

Goldfinches and Zinnias

Colorful Male Goldfinches have been visiting the Zinnias in my raised beds. But I can’t take a photo of them because they spot me before I spot them. I usually see them fly up into the shadbush tree at the end of the garden.

I think they are eating the seeds (or bugs) on the Zinnias. After flowering the center part of the flower raises into a tall cone where the seeds ripen.

Did You Know?

In two weeks the Earth will tilt and in the northern hemisphere the nights will become cooler. Those cooler nights signal the time to plant fall-ripening crops for the vegetable garden.

Return of the cool nights

butterfly weed blooming in an unlikely place.
Butterfly weed which decided to grow in my raised veg. bed.

More on Butterfly Weed

What to Observe Right Now

Watch how heat affects the plants and animals around you. The leaves of some plants wilt in the midday Sun and perk up toward evening and overnight (cucumbers). Some plants curl their leaves to slow water evaporation. What do the plants do around you?

Season Dates

  • August 1 – the beginning of the harvest season
  • August 1 is called Lughnasa in Ireland and is an official holiday.
  • August 15th is the return of the cool nights and the time to plant cool season crops for harvest in October.

The Celtic Festivals – Earth-based Seasonal Events

Seasons: Earth’s Natural Rhythms Explained

Seasonal Events to Watch

The Pleiades star cluster will make a brief appearance in the night sky in August. A signal the growing season is coming to a close and the beginning of autumn according to Earth’s calendar.

In the Sky This Month:

  • August 1 – Full Black Cherries Moon
  • August 8 – Last Quarter Black Cherries Moon
  • August 16 – New Corn Moon
  • August 24 – First Quarter Corn Moon
  • August 30 – Full Corn Moon


  • New moon always rises near sunrise
  • First Quarter rises near noon
  • Full Moon always rises near sunset
  • Winter Full Moons are high in the sky
  • Last Quarter rises near midnight
  • Moonrise occurs about 50 minutes later each day

Nature Journaling Prompts This Month:

  • Leaves in the Heat – draw, photograph the strategies plants use to survive the summer heat
  • What flowers are blooming and surviving the heat. In my garden Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) looks beautiful.
  • Are there animals active during the hottest part of the day from noon to three p.m.?
  • How does the summer heat affect your body? How do you cope with the heat?


Some Past In Season Posts on August Events

August 2022 Nature Almanac (Mosquito Bucket how-to)

October 202 Nature Almanac

Garden Tour – May 2023

That’s it for this issue. Look for the next issue next issue of the Nature Almanac at the end of August.

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