Appalachia Gardening Planting By The Moon Signs

Following the Signs


“My grandmother Cora did everything by the signs. Plant, harvesting, canning and preserving of course but also hog killing, fishing and even hair cutting. She had one of those almanac calendars hanging on a nail in the kitchen. The first thing she did every morning was consult the calendar. That calendar ruled her day. She always had a fine garden and fat healthy pigs, chickens and milk cows.

I remember stopping by her house on the way to go fishing. She said “You ain’t gonna catch nothing!” “How do you know Grammaw?” “The signs ain’t right!” I laughed it off but she was right. I didn’t stop on the way back home. I could imagine the conversation if I had. “How many did you catch?” “I caught 8 or 10 but I wasn’t counting. I throwed ’em all back. I didn’t feel like carrying them home.” “You are telling a story! I told you you wouldn’t catch nothing, didn’t I?”

I remember going to visit her one hot July day. She was out in her garden hoeing corn that was almost shoulder high to her (she was a little bitty woman). She had on her dress, apron, a long sleeved flannel shirt, a pair of high top rubber boots and a big straw hat. I asked her if she wasn’t burning up in all that. She said “It’ll keep the heat out just like it keeps it in.”
Grammaw lived to be 96 so she must have been doing something right.”

Ed Ammons – 2016



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  • Reply
    Wayne G. Barber
    October 13, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    Do you remember what the Phenology calendar was named that included three tables of Solunar, Planting and Husbandry ? Farmers Almanac ??? Thank You, in advance Wayne G. Barber, Host of the award winning Authors Hour, and Outdoor Scene

    • Reply
      October 16, 2018 at 7:39 am

      Wayne-I’m not sure, but I think the Farmers Almanac would include all that 🙂

  • Reply
    October 13, 2018 at 12:13 pm

    What a great anecdote and wonderful grandmother. I smiled at, “she was a little bitty woman.”

    My mother and her mother used to say “little bitty” regularly in Iowa. But I hadn’t heard the expression for sometime. Mom’s version always sounded like, “itty bitty.” Anyone else hear that?

  • Reply
    Papaw Ammons
    October 13, 2018 at 12:04 pm

    It seems every generation looks at the previous ones and sees things that could have been done better. Hindsight is 20/20 you know. But instead of taking what worked and building on it, most seem to want to start over from scratch. Taking what obviously works and changing it is foolishness. Making the same mistakes your parents made is too, especially if they are standing right there with you telling you it won’t work. Youngsters say, “I’ve got to make my own mistakes!” I say, “Learning by your own mistakes is a fact of life but learning from someone else’s will save you a lot more grief.”
    Times do change so I don’t suggest that a child adopt everything their ancestors did but they need to at least consider it, then adopt it or adapt it.

  • Reply
    October 13, 2018 at 9:14 am

    My brother-in-law just helped take up all my garden stakes and we talked about how bad everyone’s garden did this year and wondered what the old timers would have done without vegetables and fruit to preserve. I don’t ever remember a time mom’s garden failed to produce an abundance of vegetables. Maybe the successful garden was because she did everything by the signs on the almanac. She especially paid close attention to the sign when it was time to kill weeds and put up kraut.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 13, 2018 at 8:01 am

    I recall hearing about old timers who would wear a Levi barn jacket to go plow because once they got sweaty a breeze would keep them cool. I have never tried wearing extra clothes on purpose for that reason myself. But I’m sure it worked.

    Reckon how much wisdom we’ve tossed across the generations because it got to be seen as ‘quaint’ or ‘quare’ or ‘backward’?

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    October 13, 2018 at 7:51 am

    Sounds just like my Grandmother and she lived to be 94. I think we maybe should try it their way.
    They worked so hard but still had a long life.

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