Saints Peter and Paul. William James Mayo born, 1861.

June 30, Tuesday - Lena Horne and Buddy Rich born, 1917. Corvette unveiled, 1953.July 1, Wednesday - Canada Day. Moon on equator. First quarter moon.

July 2, Thursday - Moon at apogee. Vermont abolished slavery, 1777.

July 3, Friday - Dog Days begin. Dog Days bright and clear, indicate a happy year. G. Washington assumed command of the Continental Army, 1775.

July 4, Saturday - Independence Day. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died, 1826.

July 5, Sunday - Phineas T. Barnum born, 1810. Hail storm killed sixteen horses, Rapid City, S.D., 1891.

Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: How long has the saying, "the best thing since sliced bread" been around?

- H.P.A., Bensenville, Ill.

Answer: Well, sliced bread is a fairly recent invention, emerging in 1928, so we'd assume the catchy phrase came pretty quick on its heels some seventy years ago. That's factory-sliced bread, of course; the hand-sliced version has been around since bread was first baked. Think of it this way: LifeSavers (1912) had been around for 16 years before factory-sliced bread! Hard to imagine. Some of us don't even own bread knives, anymore.

While we're at it, we'll tell you our latest, favorite bread trick for helping out in the kitchen. Say you're cooking broccoli or cabbage or brussels sprouts, and you've got company coming for dinner and you don't appreciate the smell the vegetables leave in your kitchen while you're cooking. The solution? Bread, of course. Throw a crust or stale piece of bread into the cooking water to absorb the odor; then remove the soggy bread with a slotted spoon before you serve the vegetable. It's the best thing since sliced bread!

Some old-timers used a piece of bread to wipe up the tiny, hard-to-see shards of broken glass from a floor. (Be sure to wrap it up before you dispose of it.) And if your breadbox needs drying out after a cleaning, use the warm air from your hair-dryer to quickly eliminate the moisture.

Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: When is it too late to feed apple trees?

- B.J., Friendship, Maine

Answer: Many orchard owners use the summer solstice (June 21) as the cut-off date while others say July 1, so if you haven't done it already for this year, it might be best to put it off until next spring. The reason is that fertilizing the trees too late in the season can cause confusion when it comes to the time for them to go dormant. And if their dormancy is delayed, especially in more northern climates like yours, they may be caught off-guard by the coming of winter or even an early fall frost. Late feedings also cause late-summer growth, which will prove particularly susceptible to the coming cold.

If you're in the mood to do something for your trees, however, remove any grass and weeds that might be crowding them and spread a good layer of mulch outward for about 4 feet. Hay, grass clippings, shavings, shredded bark, or other organic materials are all good choices and will enrich the soil. Check for pruning needs.

If you're thinking of something more substantial, find something that's easy to break down into small parts. An armoire can be very versatile, as useful for housing a television, stereo or computer as it is for doubling as a wardrobe or closet. Some of the older armoires were built in two or three pieces, so they could be easily broken down for moving. Newer ones tend to be one-piece, which might not be wise at this point. The same goes for chests of drawers. Look for the older, and smaller, "chest-on-chest" varieties if you decide to go that route.

Stay away from beds, in general, especially anything as fancy and large as a tester or canopy. They are too personal, too bulky to move, and they won't necessarily fit in the rooms to come. Many young people prefer to start with futons, which have foldable frames and can convert to daybeds or couches. Side tables or a coffee table might be good choices. Comfortable wooden chairs - nothing too hefty or upholstered - are other options, or perhaps a desk set, if she doesn't already have one.


Additional Information

This Week with The Old Farmer's Almanac

June 29 - July 5, 1998

Canada Day, June 1.

Dog Days of Summer

July's Dog Days commence on July 3, just 24 hours before the Independence Day fireworks begin. Despite Dog Days representing the hot, sultry days of summer, they occur on the same date that Earth reaches its farthest distance from the Sun, or aphelion, when the distance stretches to 94,512,258 miles. By comparison, January 4, 1998, found Earth a mere 91,400,005 miles away from the sun. According to the romans, however, the Dog Star, Sirius - the summer sky's brightest star - added its heat to the summer from July 3 to August 11, making for that sultry weather.

As the Dog Days commence, so they end.

Tip of the Week

To ease a mild sunburn, wash the skin with apple cider vinegar.

Corn & Black-Bean Pitas

4 ears fresh corn (or 1 can kernels)

3 cups (or 2 cans) cooked black beans

1 cup chopped red onion

1 cup diced celery

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 ounces fet, crumbled

2 pitas (6-inch ea.)

Boil corn u ntil done, cool, and cut kernels from cobs. Combine corn with remaining filling ingredients and toss well. Cut pitas in half and open the pockets. Spoon the filling into the four pita halves.

Makes 4 servings.

The Old Farmer's Weather Proverbs

Rain of first Dog Day means rain for 40 days after.

Whatever July and August do not boil, September cannont fry.

If it rains on St. Mary's Day (July 2), it will rain for four weeks.

Got a Question? Every day the editors of The Old Farmer's Almanac answer a question on the Internet. All questions are archived there as well. See Web site address below.