Stories about the dos and don’ts of planting have been circulating for ages – and no one really knows what to believe. The Old Farmer’s Almanac is published every year since 1792 with advice and tips on planting for the upcoming seasons of the current year, but how much truth are in the predictions?
I checked out their website, and found a frost predictor. According to TOFA, Mississippi State was supposed to get its last frost on March 24. Since that was only a few days ago, it’s been accurate so far. They do rebut their prediction with the fact that it’s a “50% probability”, so I wouldn’t completely rely on just this resource for protecting your plants against sudden cold.
On to the next question: do April showers really bring May flowers? It’s been said that March is actually the rainiest month out of the twelve, but that’s not to say that April isn’t bringing it, too. Soil that has too much moisture is not good for planting, so a lot of people do wait until after March to begin. Research shows that if you can hold a small handful of soil and form it into a ball, it is too wet to plant. If when you hold it in your hand and it is moist, but crumbles, you can begin your garden.
Temperature also plays a large role in growth and bloom times. While rain is a contributing factor, warmer temperatures mean more in the long run. Earlier warm temperatures are going to mean earlier blooming time. This may be counteracted with a frost or freeze, so these early bloomers probably won’t make it, but it’s a novel concept. Your plants haven’t heard this old wive’s tale, so they don’t know to be on the look out for rain in April, but that doesn’t mean they’ll miss out on it.
What about planting on Good Friday? There are actually a few of these – plant your potatoes on this day and never before or after; only plant Parsley on the Good Friday or you will have a death in the family (slightly extreme that an herb would control this??); Good Friday is best for all summer veggies. In my research on Good Friday planting I found a reoccurring theme: everyone seemed to think this was too late. Easter is established by the lunar calendar, so unlike Thanksgiving on the last Thursday in November, there isn’t a set date. We know it falls in March and April, but the consistency after that point is lost. In some years, planting on Good Friday may be perfect; in mid-March. If it’s like this year with Good Friday falling on the 14th of April, the planting season has already began.
A lesson to heed: plant your vegetables and flowers by the instructions provided on the seed package or on a trusted website – NOT by a holiday!
For general fun and enjoyment, I found this list of interesting folklore about gardening from Blind Pig and the Acorn:
- Trees that bloom twice in one year will have a bad crop.
- If you spit in your hands when cutting wood-you’ll have good luck.
- Don’t plant your corn until the oak leaves are the size of mouse ears.
- Always plant your potatoes on Good Friday.
- Plant your greenbeans on Good Friday.
- Anything planted on the first day of Spring will live.
- Bury nails around the roots of Hydrangea to make the blooms blue. (My Muner always told me this!)
- Never plant vegetables that sound alike together. Think potato and tomato.
- Never say thank you if someone shares their flowers or plant cuttings with you-if you do they will die. (This is so ODD! Maybe that’s why my houseplants die??)
- If you find a horse shoe in the garden you should hang it in the nearest tree for good luck. (I’ve always heard barns instead of trees.)
What are some of your favorite old wives’ tales? Know any that you want to add? Let me know in the comments below!