Plant of the Week: Discover the Secrets of Planting by the Signs

Have you ever heard of planting by the signs? It’s an age-old practice that has intrigued me for years. Growing up on an Oklahoma farm, the concept of planting based on moon phases and zodiac signs was occasionally mentioned, but it was never a widely adopted practice. Instead, my dad relied on work schedules and weather conditions to determine the best time to plant. Little did I know, there was a rich history behind planting by the signs.

Planting by the signs

The Moon’s Influence on Planting

Planting by the phases of the moon is a straightforward method. Crops that grow below ground, like potatoes, onions, and carrots, are planted during the dark of the moon, also known as the waning phase. This phase begins after the full moon, as the moon gradually disappears. On the other hand, crops grown for above-ground consumption, such as broccoli, lettuce, and tomatoes, are planted during the light of the moon, known as the waxing phase, which starts after the new moon.

Unveiling the Zodiac Connection

While planting by moon phases is one approach, there’s a more intricate system followed by true believers in planting by the signs. They overlay the 12 signs of the zodiac onto the moon phases to create a more complex planting protocol. The zodiac symbols are divided into four groups: water, earth, air, and fire. Signs associated with water and earth are considered fertile and ideal for planting, while those linked to air and fire are considered barren and not suitable times for sowing.

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An Age-Old Tradition

Even in the early 20th century, farmers practiced planting by the signs. Vance Randolph, in his book Ozark Superstitions, recounted stories of how even illiterate farmers could determine the moon’s phase by glancing at a calendar and adjust their planting accordingly. While some farmers relied on almanacs, it seems that planting by the phase of the moon was more prevalent.

The Mystery of the Moon’s Power

Does planting by the phase of the moon truly affect plant growth? While there’s no concrete scientific evidence, it’s fascinating to speculate on the moon’s influence. We know the moon impacts ocean tides and even crime rates during full moons. It’s possible that the subtle gravitational pull of the moon could affect the distribution of hormones in plants, which respond to gravitational forces. Additionally, the full moon may play a role in making water more available to seeds and shallow roots by affecting the soil’s water column.

The April Frost Indicator

Personally, I’ve noticed an interesting correlation between the April full moon and the last killing frost. It seems that when an April full moon appears on a clear night, a frost is often imminent. If the full moon occurs early in April, I feel safe planting after that date. However, when the full moon arrives in mid-month, I tend to delay planting until the traditional time. These observations are purely anecdotal, with no scientific data to support them, but they demonstrate how superstitions gain traction.

Planting by the signs is an intriguing practice that has been passed down through generations. While its effectiveness may be debated, it adds a touch of mystery and tradition to the world of gardening. So, why not give it a try? You might discover a deeper connection with nature and the cycles of the moon.

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For more information about horticulture or to explore other fascinating topics, visit the Ames Farm Center website. Happy planting!

Note: This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as professional gardening advice. Always consult with your local gardening experts or extension agents for personalized guidance.