What’s Your Sign?

I’m and Aquarius but that’s not quite what I’m talking about. When it comes time to garden I hear my members talking about the signs and when it’s good to plant certain things. Not only do the people of Appalachia look to the signs to garden they refer to them in managing their livestock as well.

Hogs, The Moon and a Cali Vet

When I was younger I worked as a vet tech for a veterinarian who had come to the mountains straight from California. He was quite the city boy and about to learn a lot.

One day we had a call from a woman from Perry who needed to have a hog castrated. She refused our earliest appointment and insisted we cut her hog when the signs were right. So we scheduled the appointment to suit her. The veterinarian had no idea why she insisted on this date and I explained to him that this was a common tradition and to me seemed to have some validity.

The day came and we arrived at her home. The hog lot was up on the hill behind her house. As we made our way up the hill she told us this was as far as she was going and handed the vet a gallon baggie and said “Save the seeds.”, she turned and headed back down the twisted, narrow path. Once she turned her back the vet whispered to me, ” What does she mean?”. I told him what she wanted and he looked confused. Them I told him she was going to eat them. He just took off walking up the hill and I couldn’t help but grin. This California vet was getting broke in right. So consulting the signs is a strong tradition seated deep in our culture and effecting many aspects of agricultural mountain life.

New Moon Rising

According to sources, during the new moon is a good time to plant crops above ground that have seeds on the outside. Lettuce, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. We, like a lot of our members, have our cabbage plants in the ground already. During the moon’s second quarter there is less lunar gravity and more moon light which is said to promote strong leaf growth. It’s best to plant about 2 days before the full moon.

Yes our cole crops are planted in a gravel pile.

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

I understand the Moon signs and phases pretty well, but I am still learning about the signs regarding the parts of the body. I have a GA member that we consult when we want to plant certain things.

Roberta Brock is a true mountain woman, a marvelous gardener and one of the best singers in her church, but she wouldn’t agree to that but it’s true.

Roberta has been like my own personal Mother Nature. I listen closely when she speaks. I have learned a lot from her and have a lot more to learn. When I was visiting her recently she got a call. It was someone wanting to know if the signs were right to plant their potatoes.  She promptly told them no and gave them a good day to plant when the signs would be right. Apparently the sign being in the knees is best for root crops. Note taken.

Roberta and Pino

A local pharmacy has provided my GA members a calendar what show the signs on them for the past 2 years. This has become a favorite item and is happy accepted along with their Grow Appalachia welcome packets.

A Tale as Old as Time

We owe all this sign stuff to a 2nd-century astronomer  named Ptolemy. He was the first person to put together and relate celestial events to the weather, the tides, and the seasons. The almanacs we recognize today came about in the Middle Ages to contain charts of the stars. Sometime around the 16th century, almanacs used star charts and astrology to help predict the weather for farming. By the mid 18th century, almanacs were sold second only to the Bible in copies each year. Poor Richard’s Almanack, was the most famous and was published by Benjamin Franklin.

Image found at Amazon.com

When you think about it the moon really does effect water. Just think about the effects on the tides. So why not effect the water that’s in the ground? Could it draw it to up closer to the surface, making the time around the waxing moon a better time to plant?

So next time you want to plant something in the garden grab your almanac, check the moon phase (there’s an app for that) and get to planting…if the sign is right of course.