Dear Editor:

If I ever wanted to watch a honest to gosh conniption all I had to do was mention “planting by the signs” to my agriculture teacher. His eyebrow on his left eye would dip on one side and the right eye would twitch and become bloodshot. His right hand would shake and become a fist with the index finger extended in my direction. His voice would become horse and he would exclaim “ There is NO scientific proof that planting by the signs is anything other than SNAKE OIL!” I should be ashamed for inciting such a rise in his blood pressure.

My grandmother always told me she would not plant tender plants in the garden until after blackberry winter. What day does blackberry winter start? Well is isn’t a date on the calendar. Usually there is a cold snap about the time wild blackberries are in bloom. Seeing how this week we are going to see low temps around 35 degrees while the wild blackberries are in bloom I’m glad my plants will be safe in their containers indoors. So listen to you grandmother, she may be right about a great many things.

My grandfather used to always get a copy of the Almanac for the local area. In it you can find information about planting by the signs and a many other things. He would always wait until March to till the ground and he wanted to plant when the signs were right. I can’t write a complete explanation here but you can consult the internet or almanacs such as Grier’s for information. The signs that he used were the basic elements according to the Zodiac: Fire, Earth, Water, and Air. As you might imagine plant during the fruitful sign of Water and Earth. You would till and kill weeds in the barren signs of Air and Fire. Obviously there is more to the folklore that just that but you get the idea.

My grandfather would set down at night in January and February reading the almanac planning the field work for the year. He liked to plant corn in the sign of Pisces. It seemed to work for him because he and Grandmother fed and raised 11 kids. Was it planting by the signs the helped make him a success? There is no scientific data that any of this works but perhaps the value of planting by the signs wasn’t scientific at all but of more value planning crops for the year. For me I’ll be planting my tender plants a few days after blackberry winters low temps of 35 degrees because scientifically speaking frost will kill those tender plants. Happy gardening!

Raleigh Morgan


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