May 2019 Almanac
A monthly compendium of random wisdom for the natural world and beyond
May 1 Average temps: high: 67ºF; low: 45ºF; 27% chance of precipitation (average 1.7”). Sunrise 6:26am, sunset 8:23pm.
May 2 We’re all about planting lots of sweet alyssum—hardy in Utah’s hot sun and cool falls. Besides smelling heavenly, it attracts “good” bugs (the ones that eat the “bad” bugs).
May 3 Can you identify the herbs in your yard or neighborhood? Common plants you might see: mints (including lemon balm and catnip), sage, feverfew, Jupiter’s beard, dandelion, dock, chicory, violets, comfrey, clover.
May 4 NEW MOON 4:45pm. Combine yesterday’s herb hunt with today’s Kentucky Derby and the “shop local” ethic: Make mint juleps with mint from your (or your neighbor’s) garden and some local bourbon (try Sugar House Distillery, Outlaw Distillery or High West).
May 5 Climate Awareness Week begins. This year’s theme is “Cool the Climate—Compost!,” recognizing the connection between soil health and climate. In composting, carbon captured by plants from the atmosphere is returned to the soil. Compost also adds nutrients to the soil, provides drought resistance and improves texture.
May 6 Gas-powered machines add to our valley’s growing summer ozone pollution problem. If you’ve got a little lawn, go retro: Get a manual lawnmower. Bigger lawn? Go electric. Advantages over gas: lighter-weight (no gas tank), quieter, no need for replacing spark plugs, and fume-free! Same goes for electric trimmers and mulchers.
May 7 Grasshopper eggs are hatching. Control them as they emerge. (Do not be swayed by their cuteness; those 1/4-in. nymphs have voracious appetites!) You might try the slow-acting but longterm effective protozoan Nosema locustae, a natural grasshopper pathogen.
May 8 If you haven’t already, fish out your bike from the basement or garage and make sure it’s in good running condition. For a tuneup, take it to a bike shop or check the SLC Bike Collective for DIY assistance.
May 9 Make space for an altar or shrine—on a shelf, mantel, window sill or table—and pick an intention that will guide your choice of objects: an ode to spring, homage to the past, a call to your muse.
May 10 Make your garden more wildlife-friendly with a birdbath, pond or butterfly puddling area; trees or shrubs that produce berries, nectar, foliage, twigs and nuts or fruit; and some pollinator-friendly plants, of course.
May 11 Tips for reducing e-waste: Don’t fall prey to unnecessary upgrades. If an item is still working, clear your data and sell the device online. Or donate (check out (recyclingforcharities.com). Last resort: Bring to a Utah Recycling Alliance CHaRM (Collection of Hard to Recycle Materials). One is happening today (see calendar).
May 12 The U.S. House of Representatives now includes 25 mothers of school-age children (21 Democrats and four Republicans).
May 13 Utah Bike Week, National Bike to Work Week and Utah Bike Month begins. (It’s not cheating to bike and take mass transit to get to work. Buses and light rail can accommodate your wheels.) Check out cyclingutah.com/ for events.
May 14 Mmm, brains. Praying mantises don’t bite the heads off just their mates; they also feast on hummingbird brains. The gawky green predators lurk on hummingbird feeders, snatch their quick-fluttering prey and then burrow in through the eye sockets to get the good stuff.
May 15 Putting away the winterwear? A cedar-lined closet (kits available at hardware stores) or cedar chest is best for moth-free storage. Or make sachets of cedar chips. Standard-issue mothballs contain a neurotoxin (1,4-dichlorobenzine); avoid them.
May 16 Great Salt Lake is part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, providing food and rest for millions of migrating birds each spring. Go see them! GreatSaltLakeBirdFest.com, May 16-19.
May 17 Planting 1.2 trillion new trees on the planet could capture a decade’s worth of CO2. Let’s start here! Visit TreeUtah.org for ways to help.
May 18 FULL MOON – May 18, 3:11pm.
May 19 Endangered Species Day. As of 2016, Utah had 42 species—21 endangered species and 21 threatened species—listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (17 animals and 25 plants). Tiny Hawaii is most at risk, with over 500 species.
May 20 Last fall, in Rocky Mountain National Park, a biological science technician found and planted a quart-sized pile of seed-laden bear scat. This spring about 1,200 berry bush seedlings emerged—mostly Oregon grape, with about a third chokecherry.
May 21 Do the Dutch reach: If you drive in areas where there are bicyclists, acquire the habit of opening your car door with your right hand. This will cause you to swivel and, thus, see if a cyclist is headed your way.
May 22 Refuse unneeded paper receipts, especially ones printed on thermal paper; they contain the hormone-disrupting chemical BPA. (Test for BPA by scratching the receipt; if a dark line appears, bingo.)
May 23 Need a tool but don’t need to own it? Rent it. Home Depot rents all manner of equipment and power tools. They also sell used tools. Very ecological.
May 24 Fun experiment: Before grocery shopping, look at what’s in your cupboard, fridge and freezer and figure out what you can make with that.
May 25 As you thin your summer wardrobe, remember that only about 15% of unwanted clothing is recycled in the U.S. Help increase that number by holding or participating in a clothing exchange, or donate your duds to a resale shop or thrift store.
May 26 How to tell a butterfly from a moth: If wings at rest are perpendicular to the ground, and the body is smooth and slender, it’s a butterfly. Horizontally positioned wings on a fat, fuzzy body? That’s a moth.
May 27 Garden in the early morning, late afternoon and evening, avoiding sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. if possible.
May 28 Ticks of the Rocky Mountain Region do not carry Lyme disease but they do carry other diseases. Practice prevention when hiking by wearing long pants and tucking them into your socks. Tuck your shirt in, too. If you are bit, look here: utahpests.usu.edu/
May 29 Goji berries, a modern-day superfood, grow well in the SLC area, as Chinese immigrants working on the Transcontinental Railroad proved 150 years ago. Add some leaves from this fast-growing shrub to your green smoothies—they’re even more nutritious than the berries!
May 30 The U.S. Civil War resulted in massive carnage: 620,000 men were killed—out of a national population of 31 million. (At our current population, that would equal a toll of 6.2 million.)
May 31 Why do worms show up on your sidewalk when it rains? Theories abound, but no one really knows.
Sunrise 5:59am, sunset 8:51pm. Average temps: high: 77ºF; low: 54ºF. What you Think Upon Grows Day. “Whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Phillippians 4:8)