Urban Almanac

Urban Almanac: June 2009

By Diane Olson

Day by day in the home, garden and sky.
by Diane Olson


JUNE 1 The Sun rises at 5:58 a.m. today and sets at 8:52 p.m. Average maximum temperature is 82°; the minimum is 63°. Average rainfall is .93 inches.

JUNE 2 Create a “safe zone” of mulch around trees. Nicking the trunk with the mower can damage even well-established trees.

JUNE 3 Irises, like tulips and other bulbs, need their foliage intact to carry on photosynthesis. So don’t trim them after the flowers fade; just cut the flowering stalk. Iris rhizomes are used to make gin, perfume and various medications, and dried rhizomes were once used as teething aids.

JUNE 4 Thin crowded vegetable seedlings by snipping, not pulling. Just snip them off at ground level, and give the remaining ones a thorough watering.

JUNE 5 Common pigweed is tasty and packed with nutrients. Toss it in a salad, or cook it like spinach.

JUNE 6 There’s still time to plant basil, beans, beets, carrots, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, kale, kohlrabi, melons, peppers, pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, turnips and all hot-weather flowers.

JUNE 7 FULL ROSE MOON. Aphids don’t like garlic. If you have aphid-afflicted potted plants, peel a couple of cloves, cut them in half, and bury them just below soil level. Female aphids are so prolific that they don’t even require males. In a process called parthenogenesis, they give live birth to miniature versions of themselves, some of which later morph into males. The 18th-century French naturalist Reaumur, who clearly had too much time on his hands, calculated that if all the descendants of a single aphid survived a summer, and were arranged four abreast, in French military formation, their line would extend for 27,950 miles, exceeding the circumference of the earth at the equator.

JUNE 8 Expand your harvest season with succession planting: Plant more carrots, snap beans and corn every two weeks.

JUNE 9 Time to prune spring-flowering shrubs, and divide early blooming rock garden plants.

JUNE 10 Lavender, santolina, and hyssop emit volatile oils which repel insect pests, making them perfect border plants for vegetable gardens.

JUNE 11 Tomatoes need an inch of water per week to prevent cracking and blossom-end rot. There’s debate over whether it was Columbus or Cortez who first introduced the tomato to Europe. It was first mentioned in European literature in 1544, by Italian botanist and physician Pietro Andrea Mattioli, who named it pomi d’oro- golden apple.

JUNE 12 Skip the bonemeal. It provides high levels of phosphorus and calcium, neither of which are usually lacking in garden soils. And high levels of phosphorus inhibit the growth of beneficial mycorrhizal fungi.

JUNE 13 Area farmers markets begin this weekend. Eat locally produced honey to develop a tolerance to pollen (cuts down on allergies); pick some up at the market.

JUNE 14 Check out this cool book on groundcovers: “Covering Ground: Unexpected Ideas for Landscaping with Colorful, Low-Maintenance Ground Covers,” by Barbara W. Ellis.

JUNE 15 LAST QUARTER MOON. Things you might not be composting (but can): paper napkins, newspaper, cardboard, brown paper bags, pet and human hair, bird cage paper and droppings, clothes dryer lint, expired herbs and spices, wine corks, t.p. and paper towel rolls, moldy cheese, freezer-burned fruits and vegetables. Be sure to shred the paper products. For a long, weird list of compostibles, see www.plantea.com/compost-materials.htm

JUNE 16 Butterfly eggs have a tiny hole at the top to allow for fertilization. Later, the same hole provides air for the developing embryo. In Greek, the word for butterfly is psyche, which means soul.

JUNE17 Don’t over-fertilize vegetables: Once a month is enough. Unless they’re potted; then feed every two weeks.

JUNE 18 Water lawn only when it starts to curl; then water deeply, in stages. Frequent, shallow watering encourages thatch and weeds.

JUNE 19 Scientists successfully cloned an extinct wild mountain goat, the Pyrenean ibex, though it died shortly after birth. Look for Earth’s two closest neighbors, Venus and Mars, hovering beneath the crescent Moon tonight.

JUNE 20 SUMMER SOLSTICE. Summer begins at 10:46 p.m. as the Sun stands directly overhead at the Tropic of Cancer. Party at Stonehenge tonight.

JUNE 21 The effects of rapid climate change have penetrated to the cellular level of many plants, animals and insects. Birds now begin singing, and flowers blooming, two weeks earlier than they did in the 1940s.

JUNE 22 NEW MOON. A scholeciphobiac is one who fears worms. Darwin, who was quite the opposite, found that worms turn over the top six inches of soil every 20 years.

JUNE 23 If box elder bugs are amassing in places you don’t want them, dust them with cinnamon, and they’ll move along. Another nontoxic tool: the vacuum cleaner.

JUNE 24 Ladybugs lay infertile eggs along with the fertile ones to give hatching larvae something to eat.

JUNE 25 Patrol basil plants regularly and pinch off flower buds the minute you see them forming. Once the plant flowers, you can kiss your basil leaf harvest goodbye.

JUNE 26 After the natural fruit drop, thin apples, pears, peaches and apricots to about one fruit every six to 12 inches. The higher the leaf-to-fruit ratio, the sweeter the fruit.

JUNE 27 Can’t live with ants in your house? Spray them with soapy water to get rid of them and their pheromone markers that guide the other ants along the food trail.

JUNE 28 Cantaloupes are a good source of potassium and cancer-fighting lycopene. They also contain large amounts of the anticoagulant adenosine, so are beneficial to people with heart disease.

JUNE 29 FIRST QUARTER MOON. The easiest way to tell a butterfly from a moth is to check the antennae: Butterfly antennae are usually straight and slightly thicker at the top, while moths have feathery, toothed, or bristly ones.

JUNE 30 The Sun rises at 5:58 a.m. today and sets at 9:03 p.m.

It is apparent that no lifetime is long enough in which to explore the resources of a few square yards of ground. -Alice Coats

Diane Olson is a writer, gardener and bug hugger.


This article was originally published on May 29, 2009.