Urban Almanac

June Almanac: a monthly compendium of random wisdom for the natural world and beyond

By Greta Belanger deJong

June 1  Average temps today: high 78º, low 54º. Sunrise: 5:58am. Sunset:   8:53pm.

June 2  These easy annuals are pollinator-friendly: alyssum, cosmos, calendula, zinnia, sunflower.

June 3  There are female dragonflies and male damselflies. Dragonflies hold their wings in airplane mode at rest; damselflies fold them back against their bodies. A dragonfly can eat 100 mosquitoes a day.

June 4  Do you know the nature of your tomato plants? They are “determinate”—basically bushes whose fruit come of age all at once—or “indeterminate,” continuing to grow (up to 12 ft.) and produce till frost hits. Indeterminates require staking. (Semi-determinate are more compact, like determinates, but produce steadily, like indeterminates.)

June 5  FULL MOON @ 1:12pm. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Strawberry Moon because it signaled the time of year to gather ripening berries. It also coincides with the peak of the strawberry harvesting season. This moon has also been known as the Full Rose Moon.

June 6  Free Fishing Day in Utah. No license required! See https://catalystmagazine.net/spring-fishing-for-food-and-fun/

June 7  From Earth 911, four questions for conscious shopping: Do I need this? Can I borrow this? Can I make this? Is this the best quality I can afford?

June 8  World Ocean Day (as declared by the U.N. in 2008). Oceans cover about 71% of Earth’s surface.

June 9  Begin your day with a poem! Subscribe to The Writer’s Almanac, hosted by Garrison Keillor. Check it out at www.garrisonkeillor.com/ or subscribe via your favorite podcast app.

June 10  If you think you have a snail problem (holes in plant leaves, silvery slime trails), grab a flashlight and head to the garden after dark, when snails are most active. Easy pickin’s! What I do with them: I place them on the compost pile. As decomposer organisms, they’re in their happy place. They will stay there, working for you, till they die of old age, while some other soil life will have feasted on their eggs. Nature at work!

June 11  You know that female praying mantises eat their mate’s head post-coitus. Did you know mantises also kill and eat birds? A 2017 study reported that both native and non-native mantids are a significant threat to ruby-throated hummingbirds. Believe me, you don’t want to see the photos.

June 12 In this month’s “Garden Like a Boss” column, James Loomis discusses mulches. If you have a small garden and are fond of experimenting, try planting a “living mulch” (or at least a border) of multi-purpose annuals: nasturtium (edible), sweet alyssum (attracts beneficial insects), calendula (healing properties in flowers).

June 13 Hooray, the Downtown Farmers Market begins today! Covid restrictions are in place. Also, pups must stay home this year.

June 14 Fix your own stuff. iFixit will help you with everything from apparel and appliances to phones and vehicles. www.ifixit.com

June 15 Birds need water for bathing and drinking. DIY birdbath: Find a large flower pot saucer, about two inches tall and set it on the ground or on a sturdy raised surface. Add pebbles or a flat stone to help the birds judge water depth. Keep the pan filled with an inch or so of water. Enjoy the activity!

June 16 Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is the favorite food of many butterfly larvae. It can remediate certain heavy metals from soil. It reduces swelling and improves hay fever symptoms, according to folk medicine. And the leaves are up to 33% protein, too.

June 17 Garden experiment: Water your garden for the length of time you think is appropriate. Then stick your finger into the soil. How deeply did you actually water? Frequent shallow watering develops shallow roots, making plants vulnerable to drought. Water less frequently, but more deeply.

June 18 Loved by youngsters and U.S. presidents alike (Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon), the yo-yo is one of the longest-lived toys. Depicted in art from 440 BC Greece and thought to be present in China much earlier, yo-yos were also popular throughout the 1900s and are even today. www.wikihow.com/Use-a-Yo-Yo

June 19 uneteenth (also known as Freedom Day) is an annual state holiday in Utah commemorating the 1865 freeing of the last slaves in the U.S., ending a heinous practice that extended back to the 1500s.

June 20 Summer solstice is at 3:44pm. Also called Midsummer. Today, the longest day of the year, the North Pole is most inclined toward the sun. Archeological evidence points to this solar event being honored and studied via astronomical observatories throughout ancient earthly civilization. In addition to the world-famous Stonehenge in Great Britain, Machu Picchu in Peru, sun temples of Varanasi in India and numerous pyramids in Egypt, North America also was home to many ancient solar-based earthworks and medicine wheels. “Woodhenge,” in the major prehistoric city of Cahokia (in present-day Illinois), is thought to be a solar calendar.

June 21 New Moon @ 12:41am. Father’s Day has been observed in the U.S.  since 1910. However, it was not officially recognized as a holiday till 1972.

June 22 Occupy your front yard. Haul a few chairs to the porch or lawn, and a table upon which to set your book and beverage. Entertain an appropriately distanced guest or chat with a family member. Say “hi” to passersby.

June 23 Plants with bitter flavors have a cooling effect. Add endive, escarole, watercress and dandelion greens to your salads this month.

June 24 Midsummer Day. This is a good time to go outside, sit still, and hope to see a fairy (or, as they prefer, faerie). Or maybe just (re)read J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. You can also create a fairy garden; the things you can do with pebbles, marbles, sticks, stumps and moss!

June 25 Dandelions are in the sunflower family (Asteraceae)…as are daisies, marigolds, zinnias, gazanias, cosmos, dahlias and mums.

June 26 When using a fly swatter, aim an inch and a half from the fly’s back; flies jump up and back when they take off.

June 27 Easily repair scratched eye-glasses: Dab vehicle wax (e.g. Turtle Wax) onto scratched area of cleaned glass. Buff in small circular motions with a lint-free cloth. If the scratch is not gone within five minutes, apply more wax and repeat.

June 28 Not only can you add corrugated cardboard, egg containers and empty paper towel and toilet paper rolls to your compost pile/bin; you should, especially if you’re not so diligent about turning the pile. These irregular shapes will allow room for more oxygen, an essential ingredient for the microbes that transform your waste into compost.

June 29 If ants keep traipsing into a space where you really don’t want them, mix a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spraying it directly onto the ants kills them. This also works as a deterrent, Spray around windowsills, doorways, wherever you see ants coming inside. (You can’t smell the vinegar once it dries.)

June 30 Average temps today: high 90º, low 63º. Sunrise: 5:59am. Sunset:   9:02pm. u

Greta Belanger deJong is editor and founder of CATALYST.  Gretchen@CatalystMagazine.net/

This article was originally published on June 2, 2020.