Urban Almanac: September 2011

Day by day in the home, garden and sky.

SEPTEMBER 1 The Sun rises today at 6:55 a.m. and sets at 8:00 p.m. September’s average maximum temperature is 78°; the minimum is 57°. It rains an average of 1.33 inches and snows 0.1 inches.

SEPTEMBER 2 Put away the clippers. Anything trimmed now is apt to put out new shoots that will freeze in a month or so.

SEPTEMBER 3 FIRST QUARTER MOON. Time to plant late-season beets, cabbage, lettuce, radishes and spinach.

SEPTEMBER 4 Want to extend your growing season? Build or buy a cloche, or portable greenhouse. A cloche can be as small and simple as a bottle or gallon milk jug, or large enough to cover an entire bed.

SEPTEMBER 5 Have lots of basil? Save some for later. Puree two cups basil and one cup olive oil; spoon it into ice cube trays or onto a cookie sheet in little blobs; freeze.

SEPTEMBER 6 This is the best time to plant and transplant deep-rooted perennials, because it gives them a couple of months to settle in and spread their roots before they go dormant.

SEPTEMBER 7 Raccoons supposedly hate the scents of bleach and ammonia. Since I just found another raccoon in my living room, I’ll be testing this.

SEPTEMBER 8 If you want to save the seeds of your favorite tomatoes, ferment them for a few days to kill any diseases and cull the weak ones. Put a squashed tomato in a glass and cover with water. Stir once a day for three or four days; on the fourth or fifth day, strain off the bubbly gook and rinse clean the heavy seeds at the bottom. Dry on a screen or tray, then store in a cool, dry place.

SEPTEMBER 9 Orange Mercury is hanging with blue star Regulus in the predawn sky this morning. Hot and speedy little Mercury doesn’t have an atmosphere; it has a thin exosphere, made up of atoms blasted off its surface by solar winds and micrometeoroids.

SEPTEMBER 10 Fall Plant Sale/Tomato Sandwich Party. 11 a.m.-2p.m. Grateful Tomato Garden, 800 S 600 E. Wasatch Community Gardens, wwwwasatchgardens.org.

SEPTEMBER 11 FULL HUNTER’S MOON. It’s possible that Earth originally had two moons, created at the same time. At some point, they collided rather gently, smooshing the smaller one across the dark side of our current moon.

SEPTEMBER 12 White willow bark, which has been used to treat pain since the time of Hippocrates, and from which aspirin was developed in 1829, is actually more effective in treating pain and inflammatory conditions than aspirin, and it’s easier on the stomach. Salicin, the active chemical in white willow bark, also has antioxidant, fever-reducing, antiseptic and immune-boosting properties.

SEPTEMBER 13 Keep watering newly planted trees and shrubs, only less often and more deeply.

SEPTEMBER 14 Have you noticed? The crickets are singing louder. The males are trying hard to attract a female, so they can hurry and mate before they die. The relationship between temperature and the rate of chirping is known as Dolbear’s Law.

SEPTEMBER 15 Look for Jupiter next to the waning Moon after 9 p.m. tonight and tomorrow night.

SEPTEMBER 16 Chickens often start molting around now. Molting takes 14 to 16 weeks, though major feather loss lasts usually lasts a month or less. Egg production shuts down during the molt, as the chicken needs all its protein to rebuild feathers.

SEPTEMBER 17 American kestrels, Cooper’s, Red-tailed, Sharp-shinned, and Swainson’s hawks, Northern goshawks, Northern harriers and Golden eagles are migrating south. So are ducks, with up to 200,000 of them stopping over at Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area. This would be a good time to visit there.

SEPTEMBER 18 St. Luke’s Little Summer, a brief return to summer weather, often occurs around now. This is different from Indian Summer, which happens November 11 through November 20.

SEPTEMBER 19 LAST QUARTER MOON. Wasatch Community Gardens is hosting a Fall Seasonal Cooking workshop this evening. www.wasatchgardens.org.

SEPTEMBER 20 Time to plant cornflower, crocus, daffodils, dianthus, grape hyacinth, iris, larkspur, narcissus, pansies, poppies, primrose, snowdrops and tulips. You can plant bulbs until the ground freezes hard.

SEPTEMBER 21 If you have a pond and don’t want it full of leaves, cover it with a pond net. (Hey, it only took me 13 years to catch on to this.)

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

SEPTEMBER 23 Fall begins at 2:05 a.m. as the Sun passes into the Southern Hemisphere. Say bye bye.

SEPTEMBER 24 Pick your own jack o’ lantern at Pumpkin Fest, Sandy Wasatch Community Garden, 500 E. 8880 S. 1-8 p.m. www.wasatchgardens. org.

SEPTEMBER 25 Uranus, in Pisces, is at its closest approach to Earth. Uranus’ atmosphere is mostly hydrogen and helium, though it also contains a small amount of methane, which absorbs red light, giving the planet its distinctive blue-green color.

SEPTEMBER 26 NEW MOON. Time to re-seed bare spots in the lawn, and feed it with slow-acting organic fertilizer. Or better yet, dig it up and xeriscape.

SEPTEMBER 27 Ladybugs are heading for sunny, south-facing slopes to overwinter. When threatened, ladybugs “reflex bleed,” from their leg joints, releasing toxic, foul-smelling yellow hemolymph (bug blood) to deters predators.

SEPTEMBER 28 Time to bring in summering houseplants. Be sure to spray them gently with water first, to remove any bugs you don’t want overwintering in your house.

SEPTEMBER 29 A 2008 insurance company survey found that over half a million English drivers blamed their accident on an insect in the car. The insurance company is now developing netting to stretch over open car windows.

SEPTEMBER 30 The Sun rises at 7:23 a.m. this morning and sets at 7:11 p.m.

“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.”
—Stanley Horowitz

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