Urban Almanac

Urban Almanac: June 2007

By Diane Olson

Day by day in the home, garden and sky. JUNE 1 The Sun rises at 5:58 a.m. today and sets at 8:52 p.m. June's average maximum temperature is 82°; the minimum is 63°. Average rainfall is 0.93 inches. Fertilize roses monthly now through September.

JUNE 2 Why not call the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District's "Slow the Flow" program for a free water check? A horticulture intern will come to your house and analyze the efficiency of your automated sprinkler system and provide you with a customized watering schedule. Contact them at slowtheflow@jvwcd.org or 1-877-SAVE H20.

JUNE 3 Look for Mercury, hovering between Venus and the western horizon, for the next five days.

JUNE 4 The ancient Greeks believed that paste made from squashed-up house flies, rubbed on the head, was a cure for baldness.

JUNE 5 It's time to plant basil, beans, beets, carrots, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, kale, kohlrabi, melons, peppers, pumpkins, squash, tomatoes and turnips. Bachelor buttons, cannas, cosmos, dahlias, gladiola, marigolds, morning glory, sunflowers and zinnias, too.

JUNE 6 Most vegetables can be grown in a container: eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, carrots, cucumbers and herbs do particularly well. Containers should be made of something other than clay and have unblocked drainage holes in the bottom. Group containers so they shade each other; water often; and fertilize every other week with a water soluble organic fertilizer.

JUNE 7 Jupiter is at its closest point to Earth tonight.

JUNE 8 LAST QUARTER MOON. Unlike most birds, which are omnivores, doves and pigeons are vegetarians, dining primarily upon seeds and fleshy fruits.

JUNE 9 Turn compost piles every two weeks for the rest of the summer.

JUNE 10 As early season crops are harvested, plant warm-weather veggies, flowers, or cover crops in their place.

JUNE 11 A typical freshwater pond can house as many as 10 different leech species. Bloodsucking leeches are fond of ducks and often dwell in their throats and nasal passages, which is why ducks are frequently observed sneezing or scratching their bills. Leeches are superb swimmers, able to swim upside down, skim the contours of rocks and tread water. (Leonardo da Vinci sketched them for his studies of locomotion.) I'm guessing that the burly bloodsucking leeches in my backyard pond were brought by visiting ducks. Needless to say, I've avoided submersion in my pond since discovering them.

JUNE 12 Like other woodpeckers, the northern flicker can climb up the trunks of trees and find food under the bark, but it prefers to forage on the ground. Ants are the flicker's preferred favorite food, and it uses its long barbed tongue to lap up as many as 5,000 a day.

JUNE 13 Thin vegetable seedlings to provide adequate airflow and growing room. The largest broccoli head on record weighed 35 pounds; the largest carrot 18 pounds.

JUNE 14 NEW MOON. Fishing will be good now through June 30.

JUNE 15 Slugs exude thick, gooey mucus from their front foot which gives them the traction to climb, and watery mucus greases their way on the ground. Slug eyes sit at the top of rubbery stalks, are retractable, and can be angled into dark corners. Gray garden slugs mate acrobatically, at the end of slime bungee cords.

JUNE 16 Mint gets its name from the Greek nymph, Minthe, who tried to seduce Pluto, god of the underworld. When Pluto's wife, Persephone, found out, she turned the little hussy into a plant.

JUNE 17 There are no plants with long spurs in Europe or the Eastern Hemisphere, so no hummingbirds travel there.

JUNE 18 The waxing Moon is sandwiched between Saturn and Venus tonight.

JUNE 19 Now's a good time to prune spring-flowering shrubs, shear evergreens and divide phlox and other early-blooming rock garden plants.

JUNE 20 The ubiquitous earthworm, Lumbricus terrestris, is not native to the U.S. It immigrated in potted plants brought by early European settlers and rapidly adapted to our environment, which had been rendered wormless by ice-age glaciers.

JUNE 21 SUMMER SOLSTICE. Summer officially begins at 12:06 p.m., when the Sun is directly overhead at the Tropic of Cancer.

JUNE 22 FIRST QUARTER MOON. Tweak basil and greens regularly to keep them from flowering out.

JUNE 23 Thin melons to one or two plants per hill. As the vines develop, toss soil over each runner at two or three leaf nodes to encourage additional root growth.

JUNE 24 Don't overfeed vegetables; excess fertilizer causes plants to develop soft, disease-prone foliage. Fertilize no more than once every two weeks, preferably with liquid fish emulsion.

JUNE 25 The green darner's Latin name, Anax junius, translates to Lord of June.

JUNE 26 After the natural fruit drop late this month, thin apples, pears, peaches and apricots. Fruit trees need 30 to 75 leaves per fruit to manufacture sufficient food for both fruit production and tree maintenance.

JUNE 27 Some millipedes spray cyanide from their defensive glands, which are arranged in rows along the sides of their body.

JUNE 28 Many male butterflies and moths spend much of their brief life-span sucking down enormous quantities of water and then expelling it from their behinds. Called puddling, it's a means of extracting sodium from the water, which they later bestow on females during mating. The females, in turn, donate the prized ion to their offspring. Male Gluphisia moths can take in and spurt out 20 jets of water per minute, each nearly a foot in length. To perform an equivalent feat, a human would have to consume and expel 45,500 quarts of water, at a rate of 3.8 quarts per second, and blow it out their rear with the force of a fire hose.

JUNE 29 Look for a close encounter between Venus and Saturn tonight and tomorrow night.

JUNE 30 FULL ROSE MOON. The Sun rises at 5:58 a.m. today and sets at 9:03 p.m. In summer, the song sings itself. -William Carlos Williams

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

This article was originally published on May 31, 2007.