Urban Almanac

The Urban Almanac: August 2017

By Diane Olson

A monthly compendium of random wisdom for the home, garden & natural world.

August 1 Dawn breaks at 4:35 am. Sun rises at 6:25 am and sets at 8:42 pm.

August 2 Vit. D deficiency is on the rise, thanks in part to our obsessive use of sunblock (an SPF higher than 8 blocks 100% of vit. D absorption). The answer, as in all things: moderation (in sunscreen and exposure). The point: Don’t burn.

August 3 The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 am and 4 pm.

August 4 How to choose a ripe melon: white “field spot” on the fruit’s underside, hollow sound when thumped and dull skin. They don’t get sweeter after picked. Store at 45-50ºF. Keeps one to two weeks.

August 5 Tomato production slowed as temps rose above 90ºF. Shade plants with cheesecloth. As weather cools later this month, they will start production again.

August 6 Another reason to eat more salmon: The omega-3 fatty acids have skin cancer-fighting properties.

August 7 Full Moon 12:10 pm.

August 8 Happy birthday, John deJong!

August 9 The costly saffron, the stigmas of the fall-blooming C. Sativus crocus, likes our dry soil and air. Plant bulbs now for October harvest. Bulbs are about $10/dozen and will multiply.

August 10 Deadhead flowers to keep plants blooming longer. Careful not to take the small hidden buds along with the spent blooms.

August 11 (night) and 12 (morning): Perseids

Meteor Shower. The Perseids is one of the best meteor showers to observe, producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak.

August 13 Fertilize trees, shrubs and perennials one last time before fall. Don’t wait until September as that could force new growth in time to be blasted by first frosts.

August 14 Plant seeds for fall and winter vegetables this month: radishes, lettuce, beets, carrots, peas and spinach. Don’t let them dry out.

August 15 Got a toothache? Apply some clove oil (or make a poultice with cloves from your kitchen cupboard). It reduces the pain immediately. Seriously.

August 16 “Ondinnonk” is an Iroquois word with two related meanings: 1. a secret wish of the soul, especially as revealed in dreams; 2. the spiritual part of our nature that longs to do good deeds. — Rob Brezsny

August 17 Over the course of the month, the average daily temp in Salt Lake City drops from 92 to 86 degrees.

August 18 Mormon crickets are taking over Idaho this season. “Drivers who see pavement that looks like it is moving should slow down and drive as if they are on icy roads,” according to an AP story quoting a state policeman.

August 19 National (and World) Honey Bee Day. Mead (honey wine) is the oldest known alcoholic drink. The alcoholic content ranges from about 8% ABV to more than 20%.

August 20 There are approximately 850 million visits each year to American museums. That’s more than the attendance at all major league sporting events and theme parks combined.

August 21 New Moon 12:31pm. SOLAR ECLIPSE! (See article in this issue.) In Salt Lake City the eclipse countdown begins at 10:13am; the maximum happens at 11:33am and will last approx. 2 min. 30 seconds. The whole thing ends at 12:59 pm; Duration: 2 hours, 46 minutes.

August 22 Looking for a drought-tolerant, attractive, fragrant, edible deciduous ground cover to replace the tender things that didn’t stand up to this summer’s rising temps? Try the Pawnee Buttes creeping western sand cherry.

August 23 Some roses are grown for their lovely hips. Stop deadheading and let those form. Not only are they beautiful, but beneficially packed with vitamin C.

August 24 Always keep two pieces of paper in your pockets. One says, “I am a speck of dust;” the other, “The world was created for me.”

—Rabbi Bunim

August 25 Cooked eggs are good picnic food. For easy peeling, don’t boil eggs, steam them in a steamer over 1 inch of boiling water for 12 minutes. Place in ice water for 10 minutes, then peel. Store in a jar of water, refrigerated.

August 26 American women won the right to vote on this day in 1920—the culmination of a massive civil rights movement that began in 1848.

August 27 International Bat Night. The largest Utah bat, the big free-tailed, has a wingspan of 17 inches but weighs less than 1 oz.

August 28 Diatoms (like those pictured around this story’s headline) are the sharp shells of ancient creatures. They act like microscopic broken glass, killing insects by cutting holes in their bodies as they move. Though natural, diatomaceous earth is an indescriminant pesticide, killing good and bad. Apply with caution.

August 29 First Quarter Moon. We can see exactly half of the Moon’s surface illuminated. Whether the left or right half depends on where you are on Earth.

August 30 Cucumbers (good for your skin) are in season now. Make a toner: Scrub or peel, then liquify in a blender and strain. Apply liquid with cotton ball or spritzer. Store in the fridge. Use within a week.

August 31 Take up swimming while the pools are still open. Wetting the inside of the swim cap makes it easier to pull over your hair. Goggles are handy. Make sure they fit properly.


This article was originally published on August 1, 2017.