Urban Almanac: April 2018

By Staff

A monthly compendium of random wisdom for the natural world and beyond.

Apr 1  Sun rise: 7:10 am. Sun set: 7:52 pm. 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.

Apr 2  This is a good time to separate perennial grasses and flowers, including aster, Echinacea, coreopsis, dahlia, delphinium, gloriosa daisy and yarrow.

Apr 3   In 1877, Sierra Club founder John Muir visited SLC on assignment from the San Francisco Evening Bulletin. He called it a “city of lilacs and tulips.”

Apr 4  Not all robins are the same: The vast majority of robins do move south in the winter. However, some stick around—and move around—in northern locations. Robins migrate more in response to food than to temperature: Fruit is the robin’s winter food source.

Apr 5  April, or Aprilis, was the Roman name for Aphrodite, the goddess of love and transformation. Her name is rooted in the Latin verb aperies, “to open.”

Apr 6  Sweet peas, this month’s flower, smell exquisite but contain a neurotoxin, so don’t interplant with edible peas. They appreciate morning sun and afternoon shade.

Apr 7  Although the average high is 63 degrees and the low is 44, April historically still delivers three to four inches of snow to Salt Lake City.

Apr 8  It’s time to feed fruit trees. The easiest way is to rake fertilizer into the ground and cover it with mulch. Or use pound-in spikes at 12 to 18-inch intervals. Either way, start a foot from the trunk and work your way to the drip line (the perimeter of the furthest reaching branches).

Apr 9 Plant trees, shrubs, arugula, asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cilantro, dill, kohlrabi, lettuce, parsnips, potatoes, peas, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard and turnips this month.

Apr 10 It’s time to clear winter mulch from around roses and give them a good pruning and feeding. Same with berry plants.

Apr 11 If you planted your radishes a mere 21 days ago, they may be ready to eat. (And if you didn’t, plant some now!) Try them the French way: with good butter and salt. Yum.

Apr 12 Time to start turning the compost pile again. Around 45% of the average household’s waste can be composted.

Apr 13  Robert Leroy Parker, better known as Butch Cassidy, was born on this day in 1866, in Beaver, Utah to Mormon settlers from England.

Apr 14 Saffron, the world’s most expensive spice, is harvested from Crocus sativus, a lovely fall-blooming bulb (actually corm) you can plant now. Bury in rich, well-drained soil and don’t expect to see sprouts until late fall. Each corm produces only one bloom with just three stigmas—hence the cost.

Apr 15  For 20 days of March, the temperature is 50 °F max. or more. For 12 days of the month, it’s 32 °F min. or less (0 °C).

Apr 16  National Dark Sky Week. Antelope Island is Utah’s newest Dark Skies park and the closest certified park to Salt Lake City, offering fantastic sunset viewing from Buffalo Point and Frary Peak.

Apr 17  Check out these great astronomy apps: SkyView, Sky Safari 5, Star Walk 2 and Stellarium.

Apr 18  Wouldn’t it be awesome to have your swamp cooler serviced and ceiling fans installed before it gets hot? Do it now.

Apr 19  Bicycle Day. In 1943 on this date, Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann ingested lysergic acid dyethylamide (LSD) to test his creation’s properties. Then he rode his bicycle home. The rest is history. The famous scientist is said to have microdosed with LSD daily until he turned 100. He died on April 29, 2008 at age 102.

Apr 20  There are at least 1,200 names for cannabis (or weed, marijuana, or whatever you call it), according to slang researcher Jonathon Green, including “420.” Hence the celebration of this herb on April 20.

Apr 21  Low-flying birds are a sign of imminent rain; high-flying birds mean good weather.

Apr 22  Earth Day. Phenology is the study of seasonal changes in plants and animals from year to year. Nature’s Notebook is an online citizen phenology project monitoring the effects of climate change. It’s a great reason to really pay attention to your personal environment. Why not celebrate Earth Day by joining? husanpn.org/user/register

Apr 23  This would be a good day to repair or replace window screens, before fly season really gets underway. Clean out the dryer vent while you’re at it.

Apr 24: Dried eggshells are the gardener’s friend. Worked into the soil around plant roots, they both provide calcium and deter snails and slugs. Powdered and sprinkled onto vegetable leaves, they kill flea beetles and Japanese beetles.

Apr 25  National DNA Day commemorates the completion of the Human Genome Project in April 2003 and the discovery of the double helix of DNA in 1953. Spending some bucks on 23&me or Ancestry.com may provide you with the most interesting dinner party conversations you will have had in a long time—and some handy tips on managing your health, as well as long lost relatives (and maybe even revealed family secrets).

Apr 26  Audubon Day: Some top birding spots near SLC: Antelope Island State Park, Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Mirror Lake, Big Cottonwood Canyon, Great Salt Lake Birding Trail.

Apr 27  Arbor Day. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide from the air and release oxygen. One large tree can produce a day’s supply of oxygen for four people.

Apr 28  Download the iNaturalist app and become a neighborhood naturalist. Today and in the months ahead you can explore nature, record your observations and enjoy time outside with the Natural History Museum of Utah.

Apr 29 FULL MOON 12:56 am.  Recent research shows that broccoli sprouts contain sulforaphane, a compound extremely effective in killing helicobacter pylori, the bacterium responsible for stomach ulcers.

Apr 30 Sun rise 6:27am. Sun sets: 8:22pm. Beltane/May Eve. This was long a night for celebration in the British Isles, when sacred bonfires were kindled to celebrate fertility.

This article was originally published on March 31, 2018.