Urban Almanac

Urban Almanac: April 2007

By Diane Olson

Day by day in the home, garden and sky.
by Diane Olson
almanacAPRIL 1 The Sun rises at 7:12 a.m. today and sets at 7:53 p.m. The average maximum temperature this month is 61° and the average minimum is 37°. The Salt Lake valley typically receives 7.3 inches of snow in April. On the ancient Chinese calendar, which breaks the year into chieh, 15-day periods which describe conditions in the natural world, April begins with the chieh of The Clear and Bright.

APRIL 2 Full Seed Moon. According to astrological

gardeners, seeds planted by the light of the full Seed Moon grow into the most nutritious crops of

the year.

APRIL 3 Rain constantly changes shape as it falls.

APRIL 4 House finches, kestrels, mourning doves, robins, sparrows, yellow-rumped warblers and wrens are mating and building their nests.

APRIL 5 Start cucumber, eggplant, melon, okra, pepper, squash, and tomato seedlings indoors.

APRIL 6 Forsythia, daffodils, hyacinth, and tulips are blooming. The name tulip comes from the Persian dullband, or turban, because Turkish men used to stick a tulip into their turbans.

APRIL 7 It's time to plant arugula, asparagus, beets, broccoli (try Romanesque broccoli; check it out at www.seedsavers.org.) brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cilantro, dill, kohlrabi, lettuce, parsnips, potatoes, peas, radishes, spinach and Swiss chard. To keep minuscule carrot seeds moist until they germinate, dig a narrow, shallow furrow and water it well. Sprinkle seeds into the furrow, cover them lightly with soil, then lay a four- to six-inch board of untreated wood over it. Check under the board every couple of days; as soon as sprouts appear, remove it.

APRIL 8 Easter falls upon the first Sunday after the first Full Moon following the Vernal Equinox. Got that? Before Christ, it was celebrated as the Festival of Oeaster, goddess of fertility.

APRIL 9 Saturn is high in the night sky between 10 and 11:00 p.m.

APRIL 10 Last Quarter Moon. Venus, journeying into Taurus, enjoys a stopover in the Pleiades star cluster for the next two nights. The Pleiades star cluster, also known as the Seven Sisters, contains hundreds of stars, thought to have formed together around 100 million years ago, making them 1/50th the age of our sun. If you're facing south, the Pleiades lie above and to the right of Orion, the Hunter.

APRIL 11 Thin broccoli, cabbage, carrots, kale, lettuce, onions, peas, radishes, spinach.

APRIL 12 Why not plant some perennial veggies, like asparagus and rhubarb? Asparagus prefers sandy, well-drained soil, and requires lots of water, compost and light. A well-established bed will be productive for 20 years or more. The first cookbook ever published, "De Re Culinaria," written by Marcus Gavius in the first century, featured a recipe for asparagus.

APRIL 13 Basket of gold, forget-me-not, lilacs, money plant, narcissus, snowballs, violets and early fruit trees are blooming.

APRIL 14 Baby beavers, foxes, long-tailed weasels, mink, otters, porcupines and raccoons are being born. Golden eagle chicks are hatching.

APRIL 15 Now is the chieh of The Grain Rains.

APRIL 16 Turn your compost pile and water it if necessary.

APRIL 17 New Moon. Feed raspberries and strawberries: Mix pine needles, tea leaves and coffee grounds into the soil. You can also water berries with leftover coffee and tea.

APRIL 18 Today is the day of the average last snowfall. Yippee!

APRIL 19 Raised garden beds are handy and look nice, but aren't practical in our arid climate. Sunken beds work better; they retain moisture and are less prone to erosion. Start by forming 3×4-foot mounds, then rake the soil from the interior of each mound to the edges to form a basin with mounded edges.

APRIL 20 Keep an eye out for early butterflies and moths: cabbage whites, Melissa blues, painted ladies, red admirals and skippers.

APRIL 21 Weed flowerbeds, and remove protection from roses and other perennials. Fertilize and prune roses.

APRIL 22 Earth Day. The Lyrid meteor shower brightens the southern sky in the early morning hours. Now's a great time to partially drain and clean out your pond. Scoop out most of the muck and algae, making sure not to damage any plants that have rooted outside their pots.

APRIL 23 First Quarter Moon. For every pound of people, there are 300 pounds of bugs.

APRIL 24 Rake and fertilize lawns. Begin cutting when blades are about 2 inches high.

APRIL 25 Hungry ticks are latching onto juicy passers-by. Range hopper grasshoppers are emerging.

APRIL 26 Moths are often infested with ear mites, which courteously infest and only deafen their hosts in one ear, ensuing that both host and parasite survive.

APRIL 27 Arbor Day. Talk about fabulous choreography: During the winter, the buds of trees are prevented from growing by a chemical inhibitor that gradually breaks down as the season progresses. Once the inhibitor breaks down, the buds develop at a rate determined by the accumulating warmth of spring. As the leaves unfurl, the insects that feed on the leaves start to hatch, and the birds that feed on those insects return from migration. A good example is the spring cankerworm, which feeds on box elder leaves, and is in turn fed upon by the gorgeous orioles that make their summer homes here.

APRIL 28 Prepare garden beds for bush beans, sweet corn, tomatoes, and other warm-weather crops. Think about building those sunken beds…

APRIL 29 Dig up, divide, and transplant crowded daylilies, phlox, hostas and strawberries. Plant fruit trees, evergreens, and shrubs.

APRIL 30 The Sun rises at 6:26 a.m. this morning and sets at 8:23 p.m. Early-risers will be treated to a rare and lovely conjunction of reddish-orange Mars and pale-green Uranus, six degrees above the horizon. Tonight is Beltain, or May Eve, a major Pagan holiday.

Diane Olson is a freelance writer, proofreader, and wanna-be full time naturalist.

This article was originally published on March 31, 2007.