June 19, Monday — Don't brew beer while beans blossom. Guy Lombardo born, 1902.

June 20, Tuesday — Summer solstice. Lillian Hellman born, 1905. West Virginia statehood, 1863.

June 21, Wednesday — Hurricane Agnes hit the East, 1972. LP records introduced, 1948.

June 22, Thursday — Corpus Christi. U.S. voting age lowered to 18, 1970. John Dillinger and Carl Hubbell born, 1903. Marriage is a covered dish.

June 23, Friday — Midsummer Eve. Marriage is the greatest educational institution.

June 24, Saturday — Nativity of St. John the Baptist. Rain today, filberts spoiled.

June 25, Sunday — Orthodox All Saints. Kewpie Doll designer, Rose O'Neill born, 1874.

Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac:Can you repeat your advice on how to find a mate? I've got in mind to pass it around to my bridesmaids. — D.P., Indiana, Pa.

Answer: With credits to former Old Farmer's Almanac editor Tim Clark, we offer you these (just a few of many) tips for finding your perfect mate. The first batch, being of a culinary nature, might best be left for after the wedding cake is served. Swallow the heart of a wild duck. Stand on your head and chew a piece of beef gristle, then swallow it. Eat a salt herring stolen from a store, go to bed without speaking, and you will dream of the one you love. Walk around the block with your mouth full of water; if you don't swallow it, you will marry within the year. Peel an apple without breaking the peel, swing it around your head three times, and throw it over your shoulder. When it lands, it will form the initial of your lover.

Offer your prospective mate beer, lemonade or cider containing a teaspoonful of your own powdered fingernails. Pull a hair from the head of the girl you like, and she will love you. Look into an open well at high noon on the first day of May — or at midnight on Halloween — and you will see your lover's face in the water. If you stub your toe, kiss your thumb, and you will see your beau. Hang your shoes out the window, and you'll dream of your love. (This is an old one, circa 1696.) Count 50 white horses and a white mule, and the first unmarried man you shake hands with, afterwards, will be the one you marry. Make a string of snap beans and toss it in the air. When it comes down, your lover's initials will be formed. With other women, toss a cat in the air on a quilt. The one toward whom the cat jumps will be the first to marry. Cut your nails on nine Sundays in a row.

Finally, if all else fails, kiss as many people as possible.

Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac:Have you ever heard of St. John's bread? I think it's a chocolate substitute. —N.L.A., Eugene, Ore.

Answer: Better known as carob, St. John's bread is the dried, roasted pulp that comes from the tropical carob tree, native to the Mediterranean.

The tree is a relative of the pea family and bears leguminous fruits. You may also hear it called locust bean, in reference to the long pods that dangle from the tree.

Carob is a dried powder, ground from the roasted pulp, but you may find it (in health food or specialty food stores) shaped into "chocolate" chips for ease of use. It's commonly substituted for chocolate, or sometimes even for the coffee bean, and it's considered more healthful than either because it has no caffeine, is naturally sweet and is low in fat.

No one would argue that carob actually tastes exactly like either good coffee or good chocolate.

It lacks the characteristic bitterness, and some people complain it has a "dusty," almost stale aftertaste. For a touch of melted sweet chip in your oatmeal cookie, however, it offers a respectable alternative, as long as you're not anticipating the real thing. As a natural remedy for diarrhea, carob powder is often suggested as a mild first step. A teaspoon of the powdered form can be mixed with apple juice or sauce for children, or given to pets in their food, and continued at each meal until symptoms abate.

Too much carob, however, can cause constipation. As always, it's best to check with your health practitioner about any condition that persists or worsens.

Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac:I've heard of raising cantaloupes on raised trellises, but doesn't the fruit droop? — H. S., Jamestown, N.C.

Answer: Yes, it does droop. But we have a solution for that (of course!) and that is to tie each emerging melon up in a sort of sling or hammock made out of loose, stretchy material such as old nylon stockings. The netting from orange or onion bags also works well.

It may sound like extra work, and it is, but if you're troubled by humid conditions that increase the likelihood of diseases and fungal problems, the trellises can help solve your problem. Increasing the airflow around the vines and fruits can sometimes mean the difference between a bumper crop and no crop. Cucumbers can be strung up the same way and require less work in supporting the cukes because they can hang free until they get quite large.

You'll want to be sure that your trellises are of strong stock. Your standard tomato support may not have the "oomph" to do the job. If twig trellises are your passion, use the heavier stock from pruned willow, birch, redwood or dogwood. Grapevines and wisteria are probably too lightweight for this job.

Consider a trip to the dump or swap shop to look for worn-out stepladders, old coat racks, artist's easels, or other sturdy wooden uprights. If appearances are a big factor in your garden, you can always wind some morning glory vines or other blooming creepers in amongst the melon patch.


Send your questions to: Ask the Almanac, The Old Farmer's Almanac, Main St., Dublin, NH 03444. Every day the editors of The Old Farmer's Almanac answer a question on the Internet. The address is

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