Urban Almanac

Urban Almanac: September 2008

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°. There’s a party in the sky tonight: Venus, Mercury, Mars and the Moon meet in the west, about 40 minutes after sunset.

SEPTEMBER 2 Clean out old stands of mint, and divide and transplant bleeding heart, daylilies, delphiniums, forget-me-not, lily of the valley, peonies, phlox and primrose.

SEPTEMBER 3 A dragonfly eye contains up to 30,000 lenses, and its field of vision extends nearly 360 degrees.

SEPTEMBER 4 Jupiter, visible all around the world, blazes in the south all month long, from nightfall through midnight.

SEPTEMBER 5 As perennials fade away, mark the locations of young or small plants, so you don’t accidentally plant over or dig them up next spring.

SEPTEMBER 6 Onions are nearly ripe when leaf tips turn yellow. To speed ripening, break at the neck and loosen surrounding soil. Wait a  few days, then turn them up and let them cure on dry ground. Handle onions carefully, as the slightest bruise will encourage rot to set in.

SEPTEMBER 7 FIRST QUARTER MOON There’s still time to plant late season crops of beets, cabbage, lettuce, radishes and spinach. Sow winter rye and hairy vetch in empty beds or beneath and around existing crops.

SEPTEMBER 8 Deadhead fall-blooming annuals and perennials, and pull spent vegetables and flowers. Keep watering compost piles through dry periods.

SEPTEMBER 9 You can dig up rosemary, basil, tarragon, oregano, marjoram, English thyme, parsley and chives to grow inside for the winter. Keep them in a cool, sunny spot, and allow the soil to dry out before watering. Snip off leaves as needed, but don’t strip completely.

SEPTEMBER 10 Venus and Mars get close tonight, and Mercury, to their left, makes it a threesome. The ancient Romans named Mars for their god of war because the planet glimmered blood red in the night sky.

SEPTEMBER 11 Transplant rhubarb, strawberries and raspberries before the first light frost, so their roots have time to develop. Rhubarb and strawberries are heavy feeders, depleting the soil of nutrients in a short time, so transplant them every three or four years.

SEPTEMBER 12 Mule deer bucks are growing their antlers, and fawns are beginning to lose their white spots. Raptors, songbirds and hummingbirds are heading south.

SEPTEMBER 13 Here’s a cool class to take: Beginning Preservation & Root Cellars with Wasatch Community Gardens. 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. www.wasatchgardens.org.

SEPTEMBER 14 Time to reseed bare spots in the lawn, and fertilize with organic fertilizer or compost. Or better yet, dig it all up and xeriscape.

SEPTEMBER 15 FULL HARVEST MOON. The Harvest Moon is the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox. For the next three nights, it rises just after sunset, giving an extra hour of light for harvesting.

SEPTEMBER 16 The Moon isn’t actually round-it’s egg-shaped. Go outside and look up; one of the small ends is pointing right at you. Nor is the Moon’s center of mass at its geometric center; it’s about 1.2 miles off-center.

SEPTEMBER 17 Now’s a good time to evaluate this year’s garden. Note what worked and what didn’t, correct any soil deficiencies and start dreaming about next year.

SEPTEMBER 18 Bring in vacationing houseplants before you turn the heat on, so they have a chance to readjust. Rinse thoroughly to lose any pests or their eggs.

 SEPTEMBER 19 Dig up tender bulbs (such as gladiola), cure them in the sun for a few days, then wrap in newspaper and store in a cool, dark place. 

SEPTEMBER 20 A raw, ripe apple is very nearly a perfect food, taking only 85 minutes to completely digest, and providing about 40 calories of readily accessible energy. Its chief dietic value lies in the acids, contained in and just below the skin, which aid in the digestion of rich and fatty foods. Apples also contain antioxidants that boost immune function and hinder heart disease and some cancers.

SEPTEMBER 21 Ssssexy: Male snakes are good at foreplay. To get her in the mood, the male runs his tongue along her back, rubs his chin against her body, then twines himself around her and sets off a string of rippling muscle contractions.

SEPTEMBER 22 LAST QUARTER MOON. AUTUMNAL EQUINOX. Today the Sun is directly over the equator, and day and night are equal all around the planet.

SEPTEMBER 23 Continue to water perennials, especially new plantings. Water less frequently, but for longer periods of time, to encourage deep root growth.

SEPTEMBER 24 The Sun passes into the southern hemisphere today. Plants are maturing, and sending their seeds out into the world to create next season’s crops.

SEPTEMBER 25 Take a hike: Asters, dotted gayfeather, blue genitians and goldenrod are all blooming in the foothills.

SEPTEMBER 26 It’s time to plant cornflower, crocus, daffodils, dianthus, grape hyacinth, iris, larkspur, narcissus, pansies, poppies, primrose, scillas, snowdrops, and tulips. While you’re at it, take cuttings from outdoor plants, like impatiens, coleus and begonia, to cheer things up inside this winter.

SEPTEMBER 27 A typical backyard pond contains 10 different species of leeches, most of which eat midges, worms and each other.

SEPTEMBER 28 You can transplant deciduous bushes and trees once their foliage has started to change color. This is also the best time to plant dormant evergreen trees and shrubs. Stake young trees to prevent wind damage.

SEPTEMBER 29 NEW MOON. In an effort to impress the ladies, male flies sometimes dance around and dangle silk-wrapped packages. If a female accepts the package, the male sneaks in and does the deed while she unwraps it. By time she’s finished, so is he. Rudely enough, sometimes the package is empty.

SEPTEMBER 30 Sunrise, 7:23 a.m.; Sunset, 7:13 p.m.

Nature never goes out of style. 
-Author Unknown

Diane Olson is a writer, gardener and bug hugger.

This article was originally published on September 1, 2008.