Urban Almanac

The Urban Almanac: May 2018

By Staff

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

May 1  Sunrise: 6:26a.m. Sunset: 8:24p.m. Average high and low temperature 67, 44.

May 2  Vow to spend 24 hours not complaining, grousing or otherwise being grumpy. You are in training for tomorrow….

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

May 4  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 5 Make a way station for pollinators in your yard where their daily meals are free of herbicides, pesticides and GMOs. Plant native milkweeds—monarch butterflies depend on it for their survival. Clean water is welcome, too.

May 6 Thistle, quackgrass, bindweed, common plantain and dandelion are all signs of compacted soil. To loosen things up, work in lots of organic matter, or plant a deep-rooted cover crop, such as sudan grass. Plagued by bindweed? Plant pumpkins. They hinder bindweed’s growth by competing for root space.

May 7 May is for mushrooms. Go on a foraging excursion in Logan Canyon with mycologist Michael Piep. There are other fun nature excursions, too, such as Bird Watching and Firefly Tours. LoganNature.org

May 8  It’s time to feed fruit trees. The easiest way is to rake fertilizer into the ground and cover it with mulch. Or use pound-in spikes at 12 to 18-inch intervals. Either way, start a foot from the trunk and work your way to the drip line (the per­imeter of the furthest reaching branches).

May 9 Harvest lettuce, spinach and other greens,  in the morning, when the leaves’ cells are full of water. Don’t wash or dry; just store in a baggie in which you’ve poked a few holes. Don’t overfill the baggie, or seal it too tightly, and add a dry paper towel. Store in the crisper.

May 10  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 11The spring songbird migration is peaking. This would be a great day to walk or bike the Jordan River Parkway and look for avian passersby.

May 12 Buying tomato plants for the patio? Choose a determinate (bush) variety. Plant in a min.-five gallon container. Do not prune. Tomatoes will ripen all at once. (Vining “indeterminate” varieties grow 10 ft. or more and produce till killed by frost.)

May 13  Plant tomatoes in a bright, airy spot where they will get at least 10 hours of sunlight. Plant seedlings up to the first true leaves, add compost to the hole, and use stakes that suit your variety’s intended height. Water deeply once every five to seven days. lnterplant with basil, to improve the flavor of both.

May 14 It’s time to plant eggplant, peppers, pumpkins, summer squash, tomatoes, winter squash and water­melon. Also cosmos, gladiolas, mari­golds, mums, Shasta daisies, sunflow­ers, zinnias and other heat-loving flowers.

May 15 New Moon. Listen: Mourning doves are cooing, quail are pip! pip! pipping!, and the trees are alive with the squawking of voracious baby birds.

May 16 You are about to begin a NEW amazing hobby that is so fantastic, it STAGGERS THE IMAGINATION! With only water and the “crystals” in your Sea-Monkey® kit, you will create INSTANT-LIFE®. Yes, it’s an ad for our very own Great Salt Lake brine shrimp. Today is Sea Monkey Day.

May 17 If you planted your radishes a mere 21 days ago, they may be ready to eat. (And if you didn’t, plant some now!) Try them the French way: with good butter and salt. Yum.

May 18 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 your seIf enough time. Heads up, and enjoy the ride! SLCO.org/bicycle

May 19 Take a hike, and bring your binoculars and field guide: The spring songbird migration is reaching its peak.

May 20  This would be a good day to repair or replace window screens, before fly season really gets underway. Clean out the dryer vent while you’re at it.

May 21  lf you have an aquarium, dump the fish­poopy water on garden plants. Same thing if you have a scummy pond: That scum is  loaded with nitro­gen.

May 22 Going solar? You may want more panels and an upgraded inverter if an electric car is in your future. And that may require an upgraded incoming electrical supply box. Don’t despair: These expenses are considered part of the cost of the solar install, and are eligible for tax credits.

May 23   Is the kale going off in your garden and you can’t consume enough green drinks? Make kale chips: Snap off stems, rinse and dry the leaves, spread them on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil (massage the oil into the leaves if you’re ambitious), salt, and bake at a low temperature until crisp.

May 24: Leftover wine or beer? Pour it on your compost pile. It will acti­vate the bacteria and give your garden a little extra push.

May 25 All (unsprayed) roses are edible, with flavor more pronounced in darker varieties. First remove the white, bitter base. Float the fragrant ones in drinks, scatter across desserts or use in jams.

May 26 Audubon Day: Some top birding spots near SLC: Antelope Island State Park, Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Mirror Lake, Big Cottonwood Canyon, Great Salt Lake Birding Trail.

May 27 Hug a tree today! Trees absorb carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide from the air and release oxygen. One large tree can produce a day’s supply of oxygen for four people.

May 28  Going camping? Watch for fireflies! Yes, fire­flies in Utah. They’ve been spotted in the wetlands south of Utah Lake, in Nibley, and around Moon Lake in the Uintas. There have even been sightings in Canyonlands.

May 29 Reflective surfaces disorient aphids, moths and thrips, and prevent  them from landing, so place a gazing ball or other reflective garden art near your favorite rosebushes.

May 30 Water lilies are blooming in backyard ponds. Water lilies are both bisexual and carnivorous.

May 31 Full Moon @ 6:36 am. Av. high and low temps: 78, 53. May, more than any other month of the year, wants us to feel most alive. — Fennel Hudson

This article was originally published on May 2, 2018.