Urban Almanac

Urban Almanac: November 2007

By Diane Olson

Day by day in the home, garden and sky.
by Diane Olson
NOVEMBER 1 LAST QUARTER MOON. Today the Sun rises at 6:57 a.m. and sets at 5:23 p.m. November's average maximum temperature is 50°; the minimum is 30° It typically snows an average of 6.5 inches. Today is Samhain, the ancient Gaelic celebration of the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the Celtic New Year.

NOVEMBER 2 You can plant spring bulbs, rose bushes, deciduous trees and shrubs until the ground freezes hard.

NOVEMBER 3 If the ground is snow-free and relatively dry, mow the lawn one last time and feed it with organic fertilizer. Also, feed and protect vegetable garden soil with leaves or compost, or plant a cover crop.

NOVEMBER 4 Daylight Savings Time ends today. If you haven't already, cut back perennial reeds and grasses in the pond, sink water lilies to the bottom, and remove annuals. Clean out as many leaves as possible. If you have over-wintering fish, remove the pump and replace it with a deicer.

NOVEMBER 5 Venus and a delicate slice of Moon enjoy a close encounter tonight.

NOVEMBER 6 Cats yawn as a reaction to smells they don't recognize.

NOVEMBER 7 The origin of the word bug probably lies in the Middle English or Welsh word bugge or bwga, meaning scarecrow, hobgoblin or ghost. The same root gives us words like bogey, bugbear and bugaboo.

NOVEMBER 8 Trees, with their extensive root systems, draw up nutrients from deep within the subsoil. And where do those nutrients go? Into their leaves. Autumn leaves are an excellent source of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, making them the perfect mulch and soil amendment.

NOVEMBER 9 NEW MOON. The Moon is at its farthest distance from Earth tonight, around 252,705 miles. Tonight is also the Taurid meteor shower; look to the south late in the evening.

NOVEMBER 10 Time to finish cleaning up the garden. Pull up annuals and compost them away from where you intend to plant next spring. Cover strawberries and herbs with leaves or straw. Cut back perennials to a few inches above soil level and mulch well.

NOVEMBER 11 In alchemy, autumn is the season when the philosopher's stone, believed to bestow eternal youth, and to turn inexpensive metals into gold, can be brought to maturity and perfection.

NOVEMBER 12 Look for Mars, rising by 8:30 p.m. and brightening nightly in Gemini.

NOVEMBER 13 This month's birth flower, the chrysanthemum, was cultivated in China as far back as the 15th century B.C. Some chrysanthemums contain pyrethrum, a natural insecticide which attacks the nervous system of insects and prevents female mosquitoes from biting. Commercial insecticides made from pyrethrum are considered to be among the safest to use around food crops, and are less toxic to mammals and birds than synthetic ones, though they are harmful to fish.

NOVEMBER 14 Topaz, the month's birthstone, is found in granitic igneous rocks and rhyolite lava flows like those found at Topaz Mountain in western Utah.

NOVEMBER 15 Drain and store garden hoses to prevent freezing and bursting.

NOVEMBER 16 Cats can't see directly under their noses, which explains why they can't find treats tossed directly to them.

NOVEMBER 17 FIRST QUARTER MOON. Now's a good time to prune summer-flowering shrubs and hardy deciduous trees. Prune dead and dying branches, limbs that obstruct views or traffic, and branches that cross each other (prune the smaller of the two). Cut just above the branch collar-the area where a branch meets the trunk-without cutting into the collar itself. Wait until spring to prune fruit trees. It's also time to wrap tender trees and shrubs with burlap and spray dormant-oil spray on fruit trees.

NOVEMBER 18 A dog's sense of smell is 100,000 times better than ours, able to pick up chemical solutions that form one or two parts per trillion.

NOVEMBER 19 Tonight is the Leonid meteor shower, remnants of the Tempel-Tuttle comet. Look to the south before sunrise.

NOVEMBER 20 Dairy cows belch 106 to 132 gallons of methane gas per day.

NOVEMBER 21 Move sensitive houseplants away from windows, cut back on watering, and hold the fertilizer until spring. Mist regularly, or place pots in pebble-filled trays of water.

NOVEMBER 22 When cut, onions release sulfuric compounds that combined with air activate a compound called thiopropanal sulfoxide. To reduce tears, burn a candle nearby to oxidize the chemical.

NOVEMBER 23 In much of the world, entomophagy, or bug-eating, is common. Grasshoppers, black ant larvae, water bug eggs, moths, grubs, caterpillars, giant water bugs, and locusts are the most popular. One hundred grams of grasshopper contains about 20 grams of protein and six grams of fat, as opposed to 24 grams of protein and 18 grams of fat in beef. Grasshoppers also contain four times as much calcium and twice as much iron as beef.

NOVEMBER 24 FULL FROST MOON. Pot amaryllis, daffodils, paperwhites, tulips and hyacinths now for mid-winter blues relief.

NOVEMBER 25 Clothes moth larvae get their B vitamins and minerals by eating fabric stains. According to Household Book, published in 1590, a raw goat's liver placed in the closet or cupboard will drive out clothes moths. Pheromone traps, however, are a little less messy and easier to come by.

NOVEMBER 26 Bald eagles and rough-legged hawks are migrating to their winter range in Tooele County.

NOVEMBER 27 Most mammals, including humans, lose the tiny hairs inside the cochlea (a shell-shaped organ deep inside the ear) as they get older, leading to deafness. Bats are the only known exception.

NOVEMBER 28 Keep bird feeders full.

NOVEMBER 29 Rats experience REM sleep, which suggests that they dream. They also whistle to each other from deep within their throats and chirp with joy when playing.

NOVEMBER 30 The Sun rises at 7:30 a.m. this morning and sets at 5:01 p.m.
Burning the small dead
broke from beneath
thick spreading
whitebark pine.
A hundred summers
snowmelt rock and air
hiss in a twisted bough.

-Gary Snyder,
Burning the Small Dead

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

This article was originally published on October 31, 2007.