It is almost spring and spring planting time is something I always will remember. Being raised in the foothills of the blue ridge mountains on a farm, our family, and most everyone in the area lived from the land. Planting by the signs was something that most older mountain folks "lived" by. Not only did we plant by the signs, but I remember that my Mother also did her food preservation by the signs as well. She followed the signs to do much of her canning, but I remember especially that homemade kraut was one thing she absolutely would not can unless the signs were correct. She always said that to can it any other time than when the signs allowed would make the kraut "soft". Through tradition, many mountain folks accept the "signs" as a proper way to plant and harvest their crops.The twelve signs come around every 28 days, and are divided into elements: fire, earth, air , and water, and body parts head,neck,breast, bowels,loins, knees, feet, legs, thighs, kidneys, heart, and arms. Using a calendar or almanac, a farmer would pick the series of days with the most favorable signs for planting or harvesting his crops. In addition, many believe that the best time to plant crops with yields above ground is while the moon is waxing, and plant those crops with yields below ground (root crops i.e. potatoes, radishes, peanuts, etc.) while the moon is waning. There are many other rules for planting, harvesting, plowing, transplanting, even cutting timber, romancing, hunting, cooking, or cutting your hair.
I wonder how many of you remember growing up and helping the family plant by the signs. I well remember and cherish the childhood memories I have. In many ways, it made me the person I am today. One thing I have never been ashamed of was my "raising" as they would call it in the mountains. I continue to be proud of my country roots and have many fond memories of growing up during what would be considered by many as "hard times".
Following are the signs the Zodiac and a few tips:
- Good for cultivating the ground, planting beets and onions, and hunting. Bad for planting and transplanting other crops.
- Good for all root crops and above ground crops, hunting and fishing.
- Good for planting all crops, also for preserving jellies and pickles.
- Best for planting above ground and root crops. Good for cooking and fishing.
- Good for sports, romancing, job hunting, and hunting. Bad for planting or transplanting.
- Good for trading. Bad for planting.
- Good for planting above ground crops and flowering plants.
- Best for flowers and above ground crops. Good for all other crops, fishing and hunting.
- Good for hunting jobs, trading, baking and preserving. Bad for transplanting.
- Best for root crops. Good for flowers and above ground crops.
- Good for above ground crops, social events.
- Good for planting and transplanting above ground crops, trees and shrubbery. Good for fishing and weaning babies and animals.
In addition to the astrological signs, highland folklore has it that there are proper lunar phases to plant and harvest the crops. A few of these are listed below. The moon is waxing (increasing) if its "horns" are pointing to the left (east), and waning (decreasing) if pointed to the right (west). If you're north of the equator and it's too cloudy to see the moon tonight, check out our "virtual moon".
Plant fruits, seed flowers, and vegetables that bear above the ground when the moon is waxing. That is, from the day after the moon is new to the day before the moon is full.
Plant flowering bulbs and vegetables that bear below the ground when the moon is waning. That is, from the day after the moon is full to the day before it is new again.
1st and 2nd Quarter (moon is waxing). Plant above ground yields. Do not plant on the day the moon is new, full or changing quarters. Graft trees just before the sap flows.
3rd and 4th Quarter (moon is waning). Plant crops that grow underground in the third quarter. A waning moon is good for harvesting most crops, canning and preserving vegetables and jams. Kill weeds and trees, turn the soil. Slaughter livestock in the 4th quarter before the new moon.