Urban Almanac

Urban Almanac

By Diane Olson

JUNE 1 Logan native and theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, known for his investigations into time, space and gravity—particularly his theory that wormholes could enable time travel—was born this day in 1940. Cowriter of the original treatment for Interstellar, he acted as scientific consultant on the movie.

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 Earth passes between Saturn and the sun tonight, making it the best night of the year to admire the ringed planet and its many (62!) moons. It rises in the east at sunset and sets in the west at sunrise.

JUNE 4 NEW MOON The western mosquitofish is a small fish with a huge appetite for mosquito larva, eating 167% of their body weight each day. Also enthusiastic reproducers, they give live birth to about 60 fry at a time. Many mosquito abatement districts deliver them to pond owners. Log on to www.slc-mosquito.com to see if they’re available in your area.

JUNE 5 World Environment Day. This year’s WED theme, “Go Wild for Life,” encourages you to spread the word about wildlife crime—and work to stop it.

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 Lovely word: Woodnote, a natural musical tone, as that of a forest bird.

JUNE 9 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, while also improving moisture retention and reducing weeds.

JUNE 10 An added bonus to using silver mulch around melons: It repels aphids.

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

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

JUNE 13 Earl the leopard slug lives in my backyard sprinkler valve box. He’s crazy slippery, nearly seven inches long and sports black spots on a mocha background. I feed him apples. Leopard slugs are European natives, accidentally introduced to the U.S. They feed on dead plants, fungi, carrion and other slugs, which they pursue at a swift (for a slug) six inches per minute.

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 If you have an allergy or sensitivity to nightshades, you should avoid eating paprika, red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper.

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

JUNE 17 Elbert D. Thomas, Democratic Utah senator and outspoken proponent for protecting Europe’s Jews from Hitler, was born this day in 1883.

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. In the 1920s and 1930s, both Father’s Day and Mother’s Day were protested by groups who felt that individual parental holidays were too divisive—and costly.

JUNE 20 FULL ROSE MOON/SUMMER SOLSTICE. What a glorious combo of celestial events! Summer begins in Salt Lake City at exactly 4:34 p.m. today, as the Sun reaches its northernmost point and the North Pole tilts directly towards the Sun.

JUNE 21 Mammary-looking mammatus clouds are formed by sinking air and composed primarily of ice. Formations can stretch hundreds of miles and often—but not always—presage a thunderstorm.

JUNE 22 The small cabbage white is a non-native butterfly that lays its eggs on broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower, where its voracious larvae can do significant damage. Reduce their numbers by planting dill and parsley nearby to attract parasitizing braconid and tachinid flies.

JUNE 23 More bad-bug-repelling herbs: 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 Oh-so-delicious ice coffee: Stir 1 cup organic ground coffee into 4 cups cold water. Steep overnight, then filter.

JUNE 25 Our state bird, the California Gull, typically nests on the ground in large colonies. Young seagulls can swim a few days after hatching, but can’t fly until they’re 45 days old.

JUNE 26 Don’t want to eat bugs? Soak produce in cold water containing a dash of both salt and white vinegar before preparing.

JUNE 27 LAST QUARTER MOON. 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 Turns out ears are unnecessary. Plants “hearing” a recording of a caterpillar eating a leaf react by secreting defensive chemicals.

JUNE 30 “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.

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

This article was originally published on June 3, 2016.