Appalachia Gardening

Planting by the Signs

directions for planting by the signs

Before I started the Blind Pig and The Acorn I never knew much about planting by the signs. I had heard folks talk about it, but it wasn’t something Granny and Pap ever did. The only thing they consulted the zodiac calendar for was making kraut.

They obviously believed there was something to the signs or they wouldn’t have worried about their kraut.

When it came to gardening, Pap was so busy with work, music, church, and coaching baseball that he had to plant whenever he had time and the weather was cooperating.

The first year I planted by the signs I kept it simple and tried to plant in the most fruitful sign of Cancer or under the crab as I heard an elderly lady phrase it. I saw a marked increase in the success of my garden that year.

The following year, with the success of my sign planted garden fresh on my mind, I became so involved in trying to follow the exact sign that I felt like I was playing a mean game of “Mother May I.” I was totally obsessed by the waxing and waning of the moon as well as trying to figure out which zodiac sign I should be planting under. My garden didn’t do as well that year and I didn’t have much fun either. I about drove myself crazy warring about the signs instead of just working on growing a garden.

The theory behind planting by the signs in a nutshell is: You should plant above ground crops under a fruitful sign while the moon is waxing/increasing. You should plant below ground crops under a fruitful sign while the moon is waning/decreasing.

There are 12 zodiac signs which correspond to the position of the moon during the month. Each sign is represented by a symbol, a part of the human body, and an element of nature (fire, earth, water, air) and has distinct characteristics. For example, Leo-Lion-The Heart is fiery, dry and barren. While Cancer-Crab-The Breast is watery and fruitful.

After my mother may I year of being obsessed with following the exact sign, I decided to simplify my attempt at gardening by the signs by concentrating only on the zodiac sign like I did that very first year. Over the years, I’ve found the signs that work best for my garden are Scorpio, Pisces, Taurus, and Cancer. Those are the days I note on my monthly planting calendar which I provide free for Blind Pig readers during the growing season.

My favorite sign to plant under is Cancer (under the crab), but if it doesn’t work out to where I can plant under Cancer, I aim for Scorpio, Pisces, or Taurus.

  • Taurus: good for all root crops and above ground crops
  • Cancer: best for planting above ground and root crops
  • Scorpio: best for flowers and above ground crops
  • Pisces: Good for planting and transplanting above ground crops, trees and shrubbery

Tipper

Appalachian Cooking Class details

Come cook with me!

MOUNTAIN FLAVORS – TRADITIONAL APPALACHIAN COOKING
Location: John C. Campbell Folk School – Brasstown, NC
Date: Sunday, June 23 – Saturday, June 29, 2019
Instructors: Carolyn Anderson, Tipper Pressley

Experience the traditional Appalachian method of cooking, putting up, and preserving the bounty from nature’s garden. Receive hands-on training to make and process a variety of jellies, jams, and pickles for winter eating. You’ll also learn the importance of dessert in Appalachian culture and discover how to easily make the fanciest of traditional cakes. Completing this week of cultural foods, a day of bread making will produce biscuits and cornbread. All levels welcome.

Along with all that goodness Carolyn and I have planned a couple of field trips to allow students to see how local folks produce food for their families. The Folk School offers scholarships you can go here to find out more about them. For the rest of the class details go here.

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8 Comments

  • Reply
    Quinn
    March 14, 2019 at 8:59 pm

    I’m sort of getting to a point where I’m focusing more on what to plant in my existing spots than on expanding the amount of garden space available, so maybe I’ll have a chance to try planting by the signs this year.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    March 12, 2019 at 4:42 pm

    I’ve always understood Appalachian planting by the signs – or not – as being a matter of conscience. Some people saw the moon, stars, planets as for our use in “signs and seasons” (Gen. 1:14) Others thought they were about the occult and astrology and were wrong. I never heard it stressed by anybody as condemning anybody else. Grandma did and Dad didn’t. I’m with him it was a just the practical matter and when he could get plowing, discing, etc done. Grandma could name her own times to plant.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    March 12, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    Tipper,
    I use to plant a garden, but since I hurt my back, not anymore. I miss it a sight, but I can’t bend over anymore. Matthew helped me install a new reservoir the year I hurt my back working on my Mountain Water. He knows what he’s doing!

    Back a few years ago, I use to look forward to your “Planting by the Signs Calendar”, but I still enjoy others and what they have to say. …Ken

  • Reply
    Nandi
    March 12, 2019 at 3:38 pm

    My Gramma and my Daddy planted by the signs… so do I. Gramma just planted by fertile signs like those mentioned above. Course, she could coax a bouquet outta a dead stick! But Daddy was real fine tuned. No potatoes planted in the head… way too many eyes, not enough tater! If you wanted rounder boiling potatoes, plant in the breast… want long bakers, plant in the arm. Always planted tomatoes in the breast. Wouldn’t plant carrots in the feet because they’d have lots of “toes”. Him and Gramma fought about it a lot and I carry on the tradition because they both had huge and very productive gardens! My sister doesn’t believe in any of it… one year, we went to the seed store and bought the same seed potatoes, garden seeds etc. She just went to planting. I followed the signs. Guess who’s taters were pretty with nary a toe??? Daddy kidded her about those taters for years! But she still doesn’t plant by the signs… Daddy always said I was the smart one.

  • Reply
    Gigi
    March 12, 2019 at 2:37 pm

    We always plant by the signs. Things grow better. God Bless!

  • Reply
    Becky
    March 12, 2019 at 10:01 am

    The twins are Gemini Shirl…and yes i try to plant by the signs when at all possible!! But some years its just down right impossible with the rain…

  • Reply
    Shirl
    March 12, 2019 at 9:35 am

    I have always been interested in planting by the signs as I have heard mom talk about it all my life. She would plan her planting, weeding, weaning a baby, cutting hair, canning and just about anything based on the signs. I find it way too confusing to follow. Maybe I should have asked her more question when she referred to sign in various ways. She would call the signs more than one name as I noticed you do as well, calling one sign cancer, crab and breast. Mom talked about planting in ‘the twins’ but I can’t seem to find that sign on my almanac. She said everything would produce twice as much. I copied your favorite planting signs from today’s post. Thanks for sharing a guide that is easy to follow.

  • Reply
    tmc
    March 12, 2019 at 5:59 am

    My Mamaw always planted by the signs and did pretty well as I remember, I have never have paid much attention to it, the things we’d plant we just usually waited till the last chance of frost and planted and hoped for the best, some years were good, others not so good.

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