Urban Almanac

The Urban Almanac: August 2018

By Diane Olson

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

August 1 Sunrise;:6:24am.Sunset: 8:42pm. Be good to your skin, enjoy the outdoors and get your vitamin D. The sun is healthiest for humans before 10am and after 4pm.

August 2 In some tribal cultures, a bite or sting from an insect is viewed as the transmission of knowledge or power from one species to another.

August 3 Watermelons don’t sweeten after picked—so keep your eye on them. Watermelon will store for a week or two at 45-50ºF. If your melons don’t seem to be sweet enough for you, the cause may be from harvesting too early, wilting vines or high temperatures.

August 4 Are grasshoppers decimating your garden? Try this: Pour a mixture of molasses and water (1:10) into a shallow container. The ’hoppers will leap in and drown. For a serious invasion, position a pane of glass vertically, with a vat of soapy water in front of it. Leaping grasshoppers hit the pane of glass, fall back into the soapy water and sink.

August 5 Summer squash are at their peak of flavor and texture when they are four inches long.

August 6 Human sweat contains an antimicrobial protein called dermicidin, which protects against a wide range of pathogenic organisms and fungi, including  E. coli and candida. So get out there and sweat!

August 7 National Night Out:  Show up for your neighborhood. Walk your dog in the dark. Hang out on your (or your neighbor’s) porch. Check with your community council (SLC.gov/ community-councils) for organized events near you.

August 8 Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Night. Or try this: Slice thinly and place on cookie sheets on the lowest temperature (or in the sun, or in a food dryer). Zucchini chips are easy to make and surprisingly sweet.

August 9 Deadhead annuals and perennials to keep plants from self-seeding and to encourage more blooms.

August 10  For the space challenged: Consider a jumping spider as a pet. Check out the Utah-based Phidippus Project on Facebook.

August 11 NEW MOON 3:58am. Start something new!

August 12 Instant freeze water – cool party trick. Gather a cooler, rock salt, a thermometer, distilled water, and some buddies you want to impress. Put ice and water in the cooler, add enough salt and use the thermometer to make sure the temps drops below -10°C (14ºF). http://www.coolscience.org /CoolScience/Teachers/Activities/SCWater.htm

August 13 The Perseid meteor shower peaks tonight. Annual meteor showers arise when Earth passes through streams of debris left behind by comets and asteroids.

June 14 Mead (honey wine), perhaps the oldest fermented drink known, is made from honey and water. It may be still or bubbly, and sweet or dry, with alcoholic content ranging from  8-20% ABV.

August 15 Tomato production can slow as temps rise above 90ºF.  Shade them with cheesecloth and your patience will pay off as weather cools and they start production again.

August 16 As many as 10 million bacteria and other microbes live in a single teaspoon of soil. A growing body of evidence that suggests that all life is the offspring of bacteria; that we are all recombinations of their metabolic processes.

August 17 Ants, which are believed to engage in altruism, have been filmed extracting splinters from each other, and performing other minor surgeries.

August 18 Seeing a lot of bird activity in your garden? It could be an indication that you have an overpopulation of the larvae of webworms or grubs—so let them feast!

August 19 Plant seeds for fall and winter vegetables this month: radishes, lettuce, short-season varieties of beets, carrots, peas (shelling, snow, and snap), and spinach. Don’t let them dry out.

August 20 Male mosquitoes don’t bite. They are nectar-eating pollinators.

August 21 To avoid attention from bees, don’t wear bright colors or cologne or drink sugary drinks outdoors. Bees are also drawn to strong body odor.

August 22 According to Emerson, a weed is “any plant whose virtues have not been discovered.”

August 23 Feed your flora one more time. Don’t wait until September as that could force new growth in time to be blasted by first frosts. If you opt for foliar fertilizer, make sure to spray when it’s cool, such as before 10 am.

August 24 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 25 Bats are well-known pollinators. And Utah has many species of bats. However, no Utah bats are pollinators.

August 26 Float citrus peels in bird baths and other water features to discourage mosquitoes from laying their eggs there.

August 27 It’s time again to plant cool weather crops, including beets, beans, carrots, endive, garlic, lettuce, peas, radishes  and spinach. Plant peas and greens between, or beneath, already established crops for shade.

August 28 As vegetable beds become empty, plant cover crops, like ryegrass, oats, buckwheat or hairy vetch, to feed and protect the soil until next spring.

August 29 Flies generate energy for flight from elastic springs that turn their wings into motors that capture and reuse kinetic energy. The hum is associated with the speed of their wing beat. Houseflies beat their wings 345 times per second, humming the key of F in the middle octave.

August 30 Skin experts say cucumber’s chilly, anti-inflammatory properties soothe sunburn pain and moisturize peeling skin. (Now you know why cold cucumbers are good for dark circles under your eyes!)

August 31 Go hunting — for trilobites! The quarry near Delta, Utah is one of the richest deposits of these 500-million-year-old fossils in the world. Check out U-DigFossils.com u

This article was originally published on July 31, 2018.