Regulars and Shorts, Urban Almanac

The Urban Almanac

By Diane Olson

A monthly compendium of wisdom for the home, garden and natural world.
by Diane Olson

MARCH 1 LAST QUARTER MOON This month was named for Mars, the Roman god of war and agriculture.

MARCH 2 March has two birthstones. Aquamarines, long believed to come from the jewel caskets of sirens, and bloodstone, said to draw out snake venom.

MARCH 3 Asteroid 2013 TX68 will pass by Earth this week. Hopefully not too closely, as it’s twice the size of one that exploded over Russia in 2013, injuring 1,500 people. In February, an unfortunate Indian man became the first in recorded history to be killed by a meteorite.

MARCH 4 If you can safely reach your rain gutters, this would be a good time to clean out the moldering leaves and gunk deposited over winter.

MARCH 5 Tradition has it that you can plant early crops when daffodils start to bloom and lilac leaves open.

MARCH 6 Corn mache is a hardy, fast-growing, nutty-tasting green that can be planted in early spring and again in fall. Tatsoi, a member of the mustard family, is also cold hardy and quick to grow.

MARCH 7 There may come a time when your mind and soul are still willing to get down and dirty in the garden, but your body is not. Raised beds and large planters help cut down on digging, weeding and amending the soil.

MARCH 8 Hope it’s clear to­night! Jupiter is both at opposition and its closest approach to Earth, and will be fully illuminated by the Sun. The view will be truly mind blowing through a telescope, but also cool through a good pair of binoculars.

MARCH 9 It’s time to feed the lawn with slow-release organic fertilizer, and to add grass and clover seed.

MARCH 10 A new constellation, in the shape of a lightning bolt, has been named for David Bowie. It includes Spica, one of the brightest stars in the sky.

MARCH 11 This is a good time to plant and fertilize trees and shrubs.

MARCH 12 Pyra­cantha, or fire­thorn shrubs, are be­loved by birds and other small wildlife. Dense and thorny, they provide perfect cover for roosting and nesting, are a valuable source of nectar, and bear abundant berries in fall. They also make a great impenetrable fence.

MARCH 13 DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME BEGINS. Physiologically, the spring shift to DST is equivalent to flying east one time zone, with the resultant jetlag. Staying up late and sleeping until noon is equivalent to flying east through two time zones.

MARCH 14 Owls are establishing territories and singing for mates. I’m fortunate to have a family of Western Screech Owls living in the boxelder trees in my backyard. Their quiet evening serenades are delightfully strange—and not screechy at all. Put up a nest box and you might attract a pair.

MARCH 15 FIRST QUARTER MOON. If the ground is clear and you’re a fan of planting by Moon phase, the next two days are optimal for planning above-ground crops, including broccoli, chard, collards, leeks, lettuce, parsley, peas and spinach.

MARCH 16 Cool word: Aeromancy, from the Greek words for “air” and “divination.” It’s predicting the future using atmospheric conditions like cloud formations and wind currents.

MARCH 17 St. Patrick’s Day. Since there never were any snakes in Ireland, the whole driving the snakes out story is purely allegorical: Serpent symbols were common in pagan religions.

MARCH 18 According to Webster’s, “Utahans” is the grammatically correct way to refer to residents of Utah; however, most of us refer to ourselves as “Utahns.”

MARCH 19 This would be a great time to clean out the garage or shed, and inspect yard furniture and gardening tools. Or clean out a closet and do some spring cleaning.

MARCH 20 VERNAL EQUINOX. The Sun shines directly on the equator today, and night and day are equal around the globe. Happy spring!

MARCH 21 The Mayans were obviously celebrators of the equinoxes: On both March 20 and September 20, the shadow cast by the late afternoon sun on the El Castillo pyramid resembles a snake crawling down the wall.

MARCH 22 Ohh, that heavenly smell. You know, the one when the ground is thawing and it starts to rain and you can smell the ozone, petrichor and geosmin. Yeah, that smell.

MARCH 23 FULL WORM MOON/PENUMBRAL ECLIPSE. Starting at around 3:30 a.m. and continuing through dawn, the Moon will pass through the outer region of the Earth’s shadow, or penumbra.

MARCH 24 Those yellow bulges you see on both ends of a worm are cocoons, and they contain eggs. The worm wriggles them off into the soil, post coitus. The baby worms hatch a couple weeks later, tiny, but fully formed.

MARCH 25 It’s time to start fertilizing house plants again. Sprinkle a pinch of Epsom salts in each pot and water it in.

MARCH 26 “Mad as March hare” is a thing. Hares and rabbits get a little freaky at mating time, leaping and dashing about, and boxing with suitors and challengers alike. The buck often jumps over the doe and pees on her as he passes overhead. Kinky.

MARCH 27 Easter. A movable holiday, Easter falls on the first Sunday following the first Full Moon after the Vernal Equinox. Ostera or Eostre was the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. Her symbol was a hare.

MARCH 28 Rainbow and cutthroat trout are spawning. You can feed the trout at City Creek Mall every Saturday at 10 a.m.

MARCH 29 The Bonneville cutthroat, our official state fish, is descended from the cutthroat trout that inhabited Lake Bonneville. They now populate tributaries of the Great Salt Lake.

MARCH 30 Wild carrots originated in the Middle East and were yellow or purple. Try growing a lovely mix of colored carrots this year.

MARCH 31 LAST QUARTER MOON. Per Moon phase, this would be an excellent day to plant carrots, onions, par­snips, potatoes radishes and turnips.

Diane Olson is an author, content strategist at MRMMcCann and long-time CATALYST writer.

This article was originally published on March 1, 2016.