Urban Almanac

Urban Almanac: November 2008

By Diane Olson

Day by day in the home, garden and sky.

by Diane Olson

NOVEMBER 1 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. Look for the crescent Moon floating alongside Venus as the evening twilight fades.
NOVEMBER 2 Daylight Savings Time ends today. It’s time to finish cleaning up the garden. (Sigh.) Pull up all of this year’s annuals and compost them far away from where you intend to plant next spring. 
NOVEMBER 3 If you have a lawn (weather permitting), mow one last time and over-seed, using annual or perennial rye or white clover. Drain the gas and oil from mowers and tillers before storing.
NOVEMBER 4 Leeks are among the most venerable of vegetables, dating back to the Bronze Age. They were used as rations for the pyramid builders. In AD 640, the Welsh wore leeks in their hats to distinguish themselves from their enemies, the Saxons. 
NOVEMBER 5 FIRST QUARTER MOON If you haven’t already, drain and store garden hoses and turn off the sprinkler system. Move outdoor furniture into the garage or shed, or cover with a tarp. 
NOVEMBER 6 Death goes green: You can now get a biodegradable casket, crafted from bamboo, willow, or banana.
NOVEMBER 7 Mottephobia is the persistent, abnormal and unwarranted fear of moths. 
NOVEMBER 8 Late fall, after a few hard freezes, is the best time to prune English ivy, Boston ivy, Virginia creeper and other vines, as wells as summer-flowering shrubs and hardy deciduous trees. Never prune spring-flowering shrubs in the fall or winter, or you won’t get blooms the following spring.
NOVEMBER 9 It’s not too late to get your hands dirty with planting. You can plant spring bulbs, rose bushes, deciduous trees and shrubs until the ground freezes hard. 
NOVEMBER 10 Use high-efficiency pleated furnace filters and replace every three months. You’ll breathe better, and you won’t have to dust as often.
NOVEMBER 11 A handful of spider webs, rolled into a ball and eaten, is said to soothe asthma. 
NOVEMBER 12 FULL FROST MOON. The Full Moon always rises at sunset, the Last Quarter at midnight, the First Quarter at noon, and the New Moon at sunrise. 
NOVEMBER 13 Move sensitive houseplants away from windows and cut back on watering. Mist regularly. Hold the fertilizer until spring.
NOVEMBER 14 If you still have spinach, chard or kale growing, cover it with an insulating layer of straw or leaves.
NOVEMBER 15 This is the best time of year to plant trees and shrubs. Plan your plantings to save energy: Plant shade trees on the south and west sides of your house to block hot sun, plant evergreens to the north to block cold winds. 
NOVEMBER 16 Having trouble cutting up those winter squash? Soften them up by cooking on high in the microwave for two minutes.
NOVEMBER 17 If you’re up with the dawn, look to the southeast, halfway to the zenith, for Saturn. 
NOVEMBER 18  The "feed a cold; starve a fever" concept first appeared around A.D. 50 in the works of a Roman medical writer. Actually, you shouldn’t do either.
NOVEMBER 19 LAST QUARTER MOON. When the jet stream is blowing over Utah, it generally takes about 24 hours for a storm to travel from the west coast to the Wasatch Front. 
NOVEMBER 20 Immaculate conception: Some parasitic wasps reproduce without engaging in sex. The perpetual-virgin females produce and deposit viable eggs in or on the bodies of their hosts, giving rise to a new generation of wasps, all of which are female. 
NOVEMBER 21 On this day in 1977, winds gusting to more than 100 mph ripped through Little Cottonwood Canyon, and sustained winds of 75 mph were reported at the Snowbird weather station.
NOVEMBER 22 Wrap tender shrubs and trees with burlap to protect against desiccating winds and cold, or make a windbreak from bamboo or fiber matting, boards, or chicken wire covered with heavy paper.
NOVEMBER 23 Make sure that garden beds are settled in with winter mulch. Use three to four inches of straw, leaves or compost.
NOVEMBER 24 Choline, a nutrient in the B family found in beef, eggs, tofu, almonds, navy beans, cauliflower and peanut butter, is essential to brain development, protects and heals the liver, and may help lower cholesterol and homocysteine levels. Eat some.
NOVEMBER 25 Just to see if they could: In 1921 a consulting firm turned 100 pounds of sow ears into silk-like purses, through a long and laborious process. 
NOVEMBER 26 The sweet potato, a member of the morning glory family, is the single most nutritious vegetable in the world. (And is not actually a potato.) It provides twice the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A and almost half of required vitamin C. It contains calcium, thiamin and iron, more fiber than a bowl of oatmeal, is one of the top four cancer-fighting foods, and boosts your serotonin levels as much as chocolate and sex. Not just for Thanksgiving!
NOVEMBER 27 NEW MOON. Proportionally, the stomach of a pig is much smaller than that of a cow or sheep, so overeating would more appropriately be called "cowing out" or "sheeping out." Happy Thanksgiving.
NOVEMBER 28 Vertical farming could be the wave of the future. Using greenhouse methods and recycled resources, urban high rises, called farmscrapers, could produce fruit, vegetables, fish and livestock year-round. The technology exists and is being promoted by professor Dickson Despommier, Columbia University. 
NOVEMBER 29 Look for the trio of Venus, Jupiter and the Moon together in tonight’s deepening twilight. 
NOVEMBER 30 The Sun rises at 7:30 a.m. this morning and sets at 5:01 p.m. 
 "November always seemed to me the Norway of the year."
-Emily Dickinson
Diane Olson is a writer, gardener and bug hugger. 

This article was originally published on November 3, 2008.