Urban Almanac

Urban Almanac: September 2007

By Diane Olson

Day by day in the home, garden and sky.
by Diane Olson
SEPTEMBER 1 The sun rises today at 6:54 a.m. and sets at 8:04 p.m. September's average maximum temperature is 79°; the minimum is 51°.

SEPTEMBER 2 There's still time to plant late season crops of beets, cabbage, lettuce, radishes and spinach. If you don't have a garden, all can be grown in containers on a patio or balcony. Containers should be made of something other than clay and have drainage holes in the bottom. Water often; and feed every other week with organic fertilizer.

SEPTEMBER 3 Last Quarter Moon. Author Vladimir Nabokov was obsessed with collecting and classifying butterflies. During the 1940s, he worked for Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology and made important discoveries about the American genera known as Blues.

SEPTEMBER 4 If you're up early or out late, there's plenty to see in the predawn sky: Venus, rising higher each day; aqua-green Uranus hovering in Aquarius; and during the first half of the month, Saturn and the blue star Regulus hovering between Venus and the sunrise.

SEPTEMBER 5 Time to harvest beets, Brussels sprouts, carrots, collards, corn, cucumbers, gourds, kale, pears, peppers, pumpkins, raspberries, squash, strawberries and tomatoes, or to buy them fresh at Farmers Market. The longest zucchini on record was 7 feet 2 inches.

SEPTEMBER 6 So many people have a phobia of the leggy, harmless crane fly that a name has been given it: tipulophobia.

SEPTEMBER 7 Marigolds, when picked at noon when the sun is hottest, are said to strengthen and comfort the heart.

SEPTEMBER 8 Deadhead fall-blooming flowers. Pull spent veggies and flowers and toss them on the compost pile-unless they are diseased or buggy. Then throw them in a lidded garbage can.

SEPTEMBER 9 Check out the Sunday People's Market, a farmers market in Jordan Park, 1100 South 900 West.

SEPTEMBER 10 A bird's beak determines not just its diet, but its song, too. Heavy beaks, designed to crush tough seeds or shellfish, make deeper, less complicated sounds than the melodious songs produced by slim bug-snatching beaks.

SEPTEMBER 11 New Moon. Hummingbirds are heading south.

SEPTEMBER 12 Utah's new resident freshwater jellyfish, Craspedacusta, sometimes "blooms" in early fall, filling lakes and ponds with thousands of translucent, coin-sized floating umbrellas.

SEPTEMBER 13 This month's birth flower, the aster, is named for Astraea, the goddess of innocence, who, according to Greek myth, encountered so much sin among mortals that she metamorphosed into the constellation Virgo to get away from them.

SEPTEMBER 14 The crickets are getting louder. As fall progresses, mating becomes imperative, as all adult crickets perish come winter. The loud, monotonous song we hear in the evening is the males singing to attract a mate; they sing a quicker, softer song when a female approaches. There's also a territorial tune, sung when two males meet, and an abrupt "Look out!" chirp that warns everyone to be quiet.

SEPTEMBER 15 Winter squash is ripe when the stem begins to turn brown and the skin is fully colored. Butternut-types will turn solid dark green. Cure in a cool, dark place.

SEPTEMBER 16 Time to divide and transplant spreading perennials and to dig up tender bulbs. Cure bulbs in the sun for a few days, then wrap them in newspaper and store in a cool, dark place.

SEPTEMBER 17 Songbirds are flocking in anticipation of migration. Ladybugs are heading for high ground.

SEPTEMBER 18 After nightfall, look to the west for Jupiter, just above the red star Antares. Mars, in Taurus, rises at midnight.

SEPTEMBER 19 First Quarter Moon. Macho bugs: Male cockroaches grapple to the death over territory; fruit flies sumo wrestle, often tearing off each other's limbs.

SEPTEMBER 20 Cabbage, which is ripening now, provides generous doses of fiber; vitamins A, B and C; and iron, calcium and potassium. Research suggests that it can inhibit the development of breast, stomach and colon cancer. Greta says, "Eat kim chee!"

SEPTEMBER 21 Don't waste leaves! Shred those little goodies with the lawn mower or a chipper/shredder, and leave them in place or add them to garden beds, planters or compost piles.

SEPTEMBER 22 AUTUMNAL EQUINOX. Today the Sun is directly over the equator, and day and night are equal all around the planet. The word autumn comes from the Latin autumnus, "the harvest time of plenty." Before the term was adopted in the 16th century, harvest was used to refer to this time of year, but as the world became more urban, harvest lost its reference to the season and came to refer only to the activity of reaping.

SEPTEMBER 23  You can transplant deciduous bushes and trees once their foliage has started to change color.

SEPTEMBER 24 Today the Sun passes into the Southern Hemisphere. Continue to water perennials, especially new plantings. Water less frequently, but for longer periods of time, to encourage deep root growth.

Four percent of the world's methane is produced by termites. The gas brews inside the insect's hindgut and emanates from its entire body.

SEPTEMBER 25 You'll be glad you did it: Plant cornflower, crocus, daffodils, dianthus, grape hyacinth, iris, larkspur, narcissus, pansies, poppies, primrose, scillas, snowdrops, and tulips now.

SEPTEMBER 26 Full Harvest Moon. The Harvest Moon is the Full Moon nearest the Autumnal Equinox. For several days, the Moon rises just after sunset, giving farmers an extra hour of light for harvesting.

SEPTEMBER 27 The Full Moon, during a period of

clear autumnal skies, often brings a killing frost.

SEPTEMBER 28 Feed lawns with an organic fertilizer or mature compost.

SEPTEMBER 29 It's the peak of the fall raptor migration: Head to the Wellsville or Goshute mountains.

SEPTEMBER 30 The Sun rises at 7:23 a.m. today and sets at 7:13 p.m.

September: It was the most beautiful of words, he'd always felt, evoking orange flowers, swallows, and regret.
 – Alexander Theroux

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

This article was originally published on August 31, 2007.