Urban Almanac

Urban Almanac: November 2009

By Diane Olson

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

NOVEMBER 1 Daylight Saving Time ends. Today, the Sun rises at 6:57 a.m., and sets at 5:23 p.m. The average maximum temperature is 50°; the minimum 30°. Average snowfall is 6.5 inches.

NOVEMBER 2 FULL FROST MOON Plutarch, a first-century Greek historian, biographer, essayist and senior priest of Apollo at the Oracle of Delphi, believed that the Moon is a way station for arriving and departing souls. One of the Moon’s impact craters is named for him.

NOVEMBER 3 Marigold extract is commonly added to chicken feed to produce yellower egg yolks.

NOVEMBER 4 If you haven’t already, drain and store garden hoses and turn off the sprinkler system. Also, drain gas and oil from lawn mowers and tillers, and clean and store (or cover) outdoor furniture.

NOVEMBER 5 If you still have spinach, chard or kale growing in your garden, cover it with straw or leaves and you can extend the harvest well beyond the early snowstorms.

NOVEMBER 6 You can let your lovely summer-blooming bulbs—dahlias, gladiolus and canna lilies—rot in the ground and go buy new ones in the spring. Or you can be clever and thrifty: For bigger, more abundant and free plants next summer, dig them up—after a hard frost but before the ground freezes (necessary so they have time to rest and develop new sprouts)—and winter them in a cool, dry place; replant in the spring.

NOVEMBER 7 If the ground isn’t frozen hard, you can still plant spring bulbs, rose bushes, cover crops, deciduous trees and shrubs.

NOVEMBER 8 Time to finish cleaning up the garden. Pull up and compost annuals; mulch perennials; cover empty beds with three to four inches of straw, leaves or compost; and muck out the pond. Look for Mars hanging with the Moon tonight.

NOVEMBER 9 LAST QUARTER MOON The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, located deep inside a frozen mountain on an island off the coast of Norway, contains hundreds of thousands of seed types from around the world. It’s built to withstand centuries of climate change, natural disasters and nuclear attack.

NOVEMBER 10 Fruit flies have an elaborate seven-step courtship dance, and participants better know their stuff. If a step is omitted or performed badly, the whole thing is either called off or has to start over again.

NOVEMBER 11 People ingesting the psychoactive DMT, found in many plants (and in trace amounts in the human body), often have visual hallucinations of chrysanthemums, November’s birth flower. DMT is a main constituent of the drink ayahuasca.

NOVEMBER 12 Maximum number of dust mites found in one gram (about the weight of a paper clip) of household dust: 19,000.

NOVEMBER 13 All commercial bananas are sterile hybrids that contain two sets of chromosomes from one wild species and one set from another. The black specks in the middle of each banana are aborted plant ovules that don’t become seeds because their chromosomes don’t pair properly.

NOVEMBER 14 Protect the trunks of newly planted trees with burlap to prevent sunscald.

NOVEMBER 15 This is a good time to prune summer-flowering shrubs, vines and deciduous trees.

NOVEMBER 16 NEW MOON. The New Moon always rises with the Sun. Folklore has it that if the New Moon stands on its points, you can expect precipitation to spill out.

NOVEMBER 17 NASA scientists say that tonight’s Leonid meteor shower could produce upwards of 500 meteors per hour, as opposed to its typical 10. Earth will be passing close to the center of a stream of debris laid down by the Leonids’ parent comet in the year 1466.

NOVEMBER 18 A German shepherd in Essex, England purportedly has the loudest bark in the world, at 108 decibels (dB). A jet engine or loud rock concert can hit 120 dB; the U.S. Army lists 180 dB as the threshold of death, the point at which sound can rupture the lungs.

NOVEMBER 19 As the days grow shorter, water houseplants less frequently, mist them regularly, and hold the fertilizer until spring.

NOVEMBER 20 A normal nose

produces, on average, about one cup of mucus each day.

NOVEMBER 21 Once a month, pour one cup of vinegar down household drains to prevent gnarly buildup. For clogs, pour a cup of baking soda, followed by a cup of vinegar; wait 10 minutes, then flush with hot water.

NOVEMBER 22 Justification for sleeping in:

Animals that sleep for long durations have six times as many immune cells as those that take quick naps. They also have far fewer parasites.

NOVEMBER 23 Look for Jupiter next to the Moon tonight. Scientists think that Jupiter’s moon, Europa, is the place in the universe most likely to contain life. It’s speculated that beneath Europa’s icy, irradiated surface lies a warm global sea.

NOVEMBER 24 FIRST QUARTER MOON Store garlic at room temperature, in a covered container with air holes; don’t refrigerate.

NOVEMBER 25 Put out suet for the birds. Or make your own gooey bird treat with peanut butter and black-oil sunflower seeds. While you’re at it, toss out some cracked corn for the quail.

NOVEMBER 26 The Aztecs were the first to domesticate turkeys, originally known as huexoloti. Christopher Columbus took the turkey to Spain, and from there it spread to the Middle East, where Turkish farmers perfected breeding them. English settlers, who took the plump Middle Eastern version with them to Jamestown in 1614, were surprised to see the turkey’s wild cousins already well established in the New World.

NOVEMBER 27 A recent study estimated that if every American household reduced the amount of food it throws away by half, we’d cut our country’s environmental impact by 25%.

NOVEMBER 28 This is a good time to pot holiday amaryllis, daffodils and tulips.

NOVEMBER 29 Look for Jupiter rising as night falls. The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts a colder and snowier-than-usual winter for the Intermountain region.

NOVEMBER 30 The Sun rises at 7:30 a.m. this morning and sets at 5:01 p.m.

Have you ever noticed a tree
standing naked against the sky,
How beautiful it is?
All its branches are outlined,
and in its nakedness
There is a poem, there is a song.


Diane Olson is a writer, gardener and bug hugger.


This article was originally published on November 1, 2009.