Urban Almanac

The Urban Almanac: May 2017

By Staff

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

MAY 1 May Day/Beltane. The Sun rises at 6:25 a.m. today and sets at 8:24 p.m. Start hardening off warm-weather seedlings: Set them outside, at first in the shade, for increasing periods of time; cover, or bring inside at night till weather warms.

MAY 2 Now through mid-month: Plant asparagus, basil, beans, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, celery, chard, cucumber, endive, kohlrabi, lettuce, peas, potatoes, shallots and spinach.

MAY 3 National Garden Meditation Day. Forget about everything else; relax and meditate… preferably in a garden.

MAY 4 International Respect for Chickens Day. Consider a backyard flock of your own. For laws regulating livestock in your part of town, see “The Scoop on the Coop” in this issue. Find organic, non-GMO chicken feed at Dog’s Meow.

MAY 5 Eta Aquarid Meteors. The best time to see shooting stars from the Eta Aquarid meteor shower (born from Halley’s comet) is in the early morning, just before dawn, on May 5 and 6, 2017. Halley’s was last visible in 1986 and will return in 2061.

MAY 6 May is for mushrooms. Go on a foraging excursion in Logan Canyon with mycologist Michael Piep. LoganNature.org

MAY 7 International Compost Awareness week begins. Have you tried composting with red wiggler worms? Sign up now for Wasatch Community Gardens’ vermicomposting workshop on June 10. WasatchGardens.org

MAY 8 Mayflies are hatching, dancing, copulating, giving birth and dying—all in one day. It takes up to three years for a mayfly naiad to develop. Adult life, however, lasts but a single afternoon, during which they hatch, mate and die—en masse. Some species have a synchronized hatch, with as many as 18 trillion emerging at once. Mayflies are excellent environmental indicators, as the naiads can survive only in very clean water.

MAY 9 Sunflower roots secrete toxins that stunt surrounding plants. Don’t let them grow too near vegetables or other annuals. And be sure to weed out the abundant volunteers unless growing sunflowers is your main goal.

MAY 10 “Blackberry winter,” a period of cold coinciding with the time when blackberries bloom, often occurs around now.

May 11 Take the 999 ride—tonight, or any Thursday. Arrive at the corner of 9th & 9th on your well-lit bike at 9pm. Be prepared to pedal at a leisurely pace up to five miles with untold hoards of happy cyclists. Beer stop along the way. Rain or shine, they say.

May 12 Bat, coyote, moose, mountain lion, muskrat, pika, porcupine, rabbit, raccoon, red fox and skunk babies are being born. Mountain lions and coyotes are occasionally seen in City Creek Canyon. The spring songbird migration is reaching its peak.

MAY 13 ’Tis the day for plant sales. At the Wasatch Community Gardens sale (Rowland Hall), you’ll find an expanded selection of edible perennials and organic herbs. At Red Butte Gardens you’ll find native, high-altitude and water-wise plants. Both have heirloom vegetables and bee-friendly flowers and herbs.

MAY 14 Mother’s Day. The word for mother, worldwide, is based on “ma,” or some variation thereof.

MAY 15 Harvest greens in the morning and don’t wash them. Store in a baggie with a paper towel to absorb moisture.

May 16 Plant cantaloupe, corn, eggplant, peppers, pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, watermelon. Also cosmos, gladiolus, marigolds, mums, Shasta daisies, sunflowers, zinnias and other heat-loving flowers.

MAY 17 Let nature work for you: Plant poppies around rosebushes to attract lacewings, which then eat the aphids on the roses.

MAY 18 Looking for an excuse to get outside? The Great Salt Lake Bird Festival is invigorating to the body and soul. Through May 22.

MAY 19 Have you ever ridden your bike to work? Today may be the day to try it. Dress for weather. Engage a bus or Trax if necessary. Give yourself enough time. Heads up, and enjoy the ride! slco.org/bicycle

May 20 Like quinoa? Try growing your own. It makes pretty flowers, and then you can eat it! Mix the tiny seeds with sugar for easier sowing and refrigerate overnight, then plant in full sun.

MAY 21 If you have an aquarium, dump the fish-poopy water on garden plants. Same thing if you have a scummy pond: That scum is loaded with nitrogen.

MAY 22 Female sea monkeys (aka brine shrimp) will develop a pouch when they’re pregnant, but they don’t need to mate to become so: They can fertilize their own eggs, a process known as parthenogenesis.

MAY 23 Don’t throw out old, sprouting garlic cloves. They have heart-healthy antioxidants.

MAY 24 Pick snow peas when the peas are just beginning to swell in the pods; snap peas when the pod is plump, but the skin is still shiny, not dull.

MAY 25 Leftover wine or beer? Pour it on your compost pile. It will activate the bacteria and give your garden a little extra push.

MAY 26 Want to attract monarch butterflies to your garden? Adult monarchs lay their eggs only on milkweed aka butterfly weed (asclepias). Seeds are available locally (try Millcreek Gardens). Local lepidopterist Todd Stout recommends Asclepias speciosa (showy milkweed). For plants, visit HighCountryGardens.com, where you can also watch a video on how to plant milkweed.

MAY 27 Every day 22 people die while waiting for a organ transplant. One organ donor can save eight lives and change the lives of more than 50 people. To register to become an organ donor: YesUtah.org

MAY 28 The nepetalactone in catnip is also a very effective fly and mosquito repellent. Rats and mice dislike it, too, and will avoid places where it grows.

MAY 29 Mosquitoes can lay thousands of eggs in standing water in just five days. Empty any water-catching containers regularly.

MAY 30 According to recent studies, some honeybees are thrill seekers, while others are pessimists.

MAY 31 The Sun rises at 5:58 a.m. today and sets at 8:52 p.m. Average High 76ºF Low 52ºF. May’s average maximum temperature is 72°; the minimum is 55°. Average snowfall is 1.1 inches; rainfall 1.8 inches. This whole month Venus is great to see and Jupiter and Saturn are perfectly visible.

First Quarter Moon: May 2, 8:46 pm

Full Moon: May 10, 3:42 pm

Moon’s Last Quarter: May 18, 6:32 pm.

New Moon: May 25, 1:44 pm.


—by Diane Olson, Anna Zumwalt and Greta deJong

This article was originally published on May 1, 2017.