Urban Almanac

June 2017 Urban Almanac: A monthly compendium of random wisdom for the home, garden and natural world.

By Diane Olson


JUNE 1  June is LGBT Pride Month. Gay marriage is now legal in all 50 U.S. states and in 22 countries.

JUNE 2 Moonstone, June’s birthstone (along with pearl and alexandrite), was named by Roman author and naturalist Pliny the Elder, who believed the stone’s appearance changed with the waxing and waning of the Moon.

JUNE 3 Many species of birds, including humming birds, line their nests with aromatic leaves to keep mosquitos away, kill bacteria and act as a sun shield.

JUNE 4 A border of dill, fennel, parsley, artemisia, feverfew, marigolds, calendula, sunflowers, zinnias, yarrow, basil, sage and thyme planted around the edges of your vegetable garden will attract good bugs and repel the bad ones.

JUNE 5 World Environment Day. The theme for 2017 is “Connecting People to Nature – in the city and on the land, from the poles to the equator.”

JUNE 6 Kokanee salmon are essentially landlocked Pacific sockeye salmon. Drop a line for them in Fish Lake, Flaming Gorge, and Porcupine and Strawberry reservoirs.

JUNE 7 Earthshine is the faint glow on the shadowy portion of the crescent Moon, caused by light reflecting from Earth to the Moon and back to Earth. Were you on the Moon, Earth would appear nearly full and luminous.

JUNE 8  Make a habit of visiting your garden every day. If you have a composter, give it a spin; more action means faster results.

JUNE 9 FULL MOON. The Full Moon is at apogee, the farthest point from Earth, making June’s Strawberry Moon a Micromoon (opposite of a Supermoon).

JUNE 10 A thick mulch of straw on your vegetable garden  keeps roots cool and protects against soil-dwelling diseases.

JUNE 11 Extend your harvest season by planting successions of carrots, beans and corn every two weeks.

JUNE 12 FIRST QUARTER MOON. Does your deck/house/fence/shed need staining or painting? Do it now, before it gets too hot.

JUNE 13 Consider naming your house. (This is not a practice exclusively for British novels.) For instance, CATALYST dwells in Big Pink. Friends of ours dwell in Casa Vida.

JUNE 14 Leopard slug sex is acrobatic and hermaphroditic, and takes place at the end of a mucus rope. Watch it on YouTube. It’s fabulously grossly amazing.

JUNE 15 Bumble bees vibrate their burley flight muscles to shake pollen loose from flowers. Flying bees build up an electrostatic charge, which discharges when they land on grounded flowers, and spreads the pollen they are carrying.

JUNE 16 Are jets leaving contrails? If not, it probably won’t rain in the next 24 hours.

JUNE 17 LAST QUARTER MOON. Butterflies love asters, cosmos, thistles and buttonbush. Their caterpillars prefer thistle, mallow, holly­hock and sunflower.

JUNE 18 Ever-bearing strawberries grow well in hanging baskets. Suspend them in a sunny spot and feed and water often. You can do the same with cherry and Tumbling Tom tomatoes.

JUNE 19 Father’s Day. Caffeine jukes up mosquito larvae so much that they forget to come to the surface and breathe. If you have standing water, dump in some instant coffee or used grounds.


JUNE 21 There still time to plant a garden! Vegetables: beans, beets, carrots, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, kale, kohlr­abi, melons, peppers, pumpkins, radishes, squash, tomatoes and turnips. Flowers: bachelor buttons, cannas, cosmos, dahlias, gladiola, mari­golds, morning glory, sunflowers and zinnias. Plants successions of radishes, carrots, snap beans and corn, every two weeks, through July.

JUNE 22 Reduce the number of  voracious cabbage butterflies by planting dill and parsley nearby to attract parasitizing braconid and tachinid flies.

JUNE 23  NEW MOON. Aphids abhor chives, coriander, mint and thyme. Rosemary is the bane of bean beetles, carrot flies and ticks. Borage discourages tomato worms. And chamomile, “the plant’s physician,” protects against myriad pests and diseases.

JUNE 24  Tonight is midsummer eve, the midpoint of the growing in season.

JUNE 25 Young seagulls can swim a few days after hatching, but can’t fly until they’re 45 days old.

JUNE 26 Northern Utah’s growing season often isn’t quite long enough for melons to ripen. Green, blue or silver plastic mulch, used with drip irrigation, will increase soil temperature and hasten ripening.

JUNE 27 Take a walk on mild side: Parleys Trail, accessible from the Bonneville Shoreline Trail at the mouth of Parleys Canyon, runs west to Hidden Hollow Park.

JUNE 28 Cats love nepetalacton, a compound found in catnip. Flies, mosquitoes, rats and mice hate it. Grow a pot of catnip on the porch to keep flying pests away, and around sheds and garages to repel rodential ones.

JUNE 29 Before cooking, give fresh broccoli a quick salt water bath to coax out the perfectly disguised (and not so tasty) cabbage worms. Italian immigrants first brought broccoli to the Americas in the early 1800s. An ingredient has antiviral, antibacterial and anticancer properties.

JUNE 30   FIRST QUARTER MOON. “Terroir” is the environmental factors—the weather, the climate, the microbes in the soil and air—that give foods produced in an area a distinctive character. It’s what makes a cherry from Montana’s Flathead Valley, a peach from Palisade, Colorado and a tomato from your backyard taste the way they do. u

— Diane Olson and Anna Zumwalt

This article was originally published on June 1, 2017.