Appalachia Gardening

Planting By The Signs for April 2016

Planting By The Signs for April 2016

I started trying to plant by the signs about 9 or 10 years ago. Pap and Granny always grew a garden when I was growing up, but they never tried to plant by the signs.

It wasn’t that they didn’t believe in the signs. Pap was just 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 trying 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 well that year.

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, 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.

My favorite sign to plant under is Cancer, 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

If you plant by the signs-please tell us about it!



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  • Reply
    April 3, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    Jim-thank you for the comments! Yep I agree planting by the signs can be a areal conundrum. Just like you said between weather and other obligations waiting on the right sign could delay your garden a whole month! I try my best to go by the signs and most of the time it works out, however there are certainly times I just have to get it in the ground : )

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    April 2, 2016 at 6:25 am

    I found the name of the tale err…melon that I grow every year that ripens on April 1st…You know the one that smells a bit musky due to the story and can cause a pinkish red/greenish blush…
    The name..
    “April Fool’s Day Melon”
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…only one person guessed!
    One year we conjured up such a story about planting melons in February and ripening by April1st, that our friend was practically on her way here to see them and was sure it would be a great spring gardening story for the newspaper….She was so enthusiastic about the melon, that I hated to tell her that it was a “April Fool’s Day” joke……Like the melon, we can be real stinkers around April 1st…!

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    April 1, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    Today, I called and talked with Donna Lynn during a song she was playing. She asked which song I wanted by the Pressley Girls or Paul and Jerry. I chose “Shepherd of My Soul” cause I just love it. I like “New Birth” with the orchestra background the best. I’ve been listening to WKRK since I was a kid and Donna Lynn is my favorite Dj. They only play Christian Music now…Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 1, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    I don’t plant or store by the signs. I have trouble keeping up with what month it is anymore much less the day and the sign. My mother and grandmother swore by the signs. They always had to have a calendar with the signs in words and pictures. It was part of their daily routine to check the signs.
    I don’t know what effect the phases of the Moon have on plants and people but I do know that the Moon’s gravity is strong enough to lift the water in the open oceans by 2 feet. When the Sun and Moon line up right you get a spring tide which is even higher. It’s not just oceans that are affected. Lakes have tides to a smaller extent. What about underground aquafers? What about people? Newborn babies are 78% water. Adults are 60%. What effect does the gravity of the Sun and Moon have on us? And it’s not just water that is affected, it’s everything.
    The Moon’s gravity is always the same but the Earth turns so when your spot on the planet is facing the Moon, you get a high tide. When your spot is facing away, you get a low tide. This happens every lunar day. However, the Sun also exerts gravity on us daily too but not in the same direction as the Moon’s. The angle of the direction of these two forces is constantly changing but is cyclical and predictable.
    But then you have to factor in the wobble the Earth has on its axis that give us the seasons. That too changes the gravitational effect.
    The same side of the Moon is always facing the Earth which with the changing orientation of the Sun produces what we call Moon or Lunar Phases. We can determine the location of the Sun at night by the amount of reflected sunlight we can see and by the direction the crescent is facing. If we see a full moon it means the Sun is behind us. If we cannot see the moon at all or only see a thin sliver it means we are facing the Sun and it is illuminating the side that is always away from us. This only happens in the daytime.
    All this stuff isn’t recent. Our ancestors had it figured down to a science. They didn’t have TVs, DVDs, MP3s and Facebook to occupy their minds. They didn’t have Google or The Weather Channel to go to for answers. So they studied the stars, the Sun, the Moon and the planets and noted the effects that certain configurations predicted.
    Do I believe in the Signs? Yes! Do I know how their predictions affect everyday life? No, but I would like to! Do I believe the stars can predict future events? #e[[ No!!!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 1, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Is it a plum granny b. Ruth is talking about?

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    April 1, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    I may be wrong but I don’t remember my folks planting by any signs, maybe like Jim said, it rains so much here in Cherokee County tho, that you just have to plant when you can.
    I remember when I was little, Daddy was Sunday School Superintendent, and talked about “for every time there is a season”, and all that stuff. I would rather plant by the signs too, if I can…Ken

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    April 1, 2016 at 10:36 am

    Nearly all the melons we planted in February under the “water sign” are within a week or so of picking!
    Absolutely amazing!
    Help me, I am not sure what the name of the “saved seed melon” that we planted. I suppose we could “grab up” one or two of those “musk” smelling melons and let them finish ripening on the counter…
    You know the pinkish red/greenish blush melon with the persistent, penetrating odor…I hope this hint/description will bring the name to your mind. Will you please post it today when you remember it…I am so forgetful! In the meantime, I am “Binging and Googling” trying to locate a name!!
    Thanks Tipper for all your help

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    April 1, 2016 at 9:57 am

    I have never attempted to plant by the signs. However, your info about Pisces may be just the nudge I need to transplant tomato and pepper this coming week. The soil temperature is still too low to be planting warm-season seed and any warm-season transplants won’t grow much if at all. But the cool, moist conditions are really nice low-stress for transplanting. I like to plant so as to have the plants grow into the conditions and acclimate themselves slowly.
    I think I probably posted this before but we ‘moderns’ most likely don’t (because we don’t have to) take gardening nearly as seriously as the ‘old timers’ did. Not only did they have to put more manual labor into it but the results were much more serious in terms of feeding what were often large families through both the summer and the winter. Us humans need some preparing-for-the-long-term things to keep us from being too short-sighted, at least I think so, and their kind of gardening did that.

  • Reply
    April 1, 2016 at 9:10 am

    Thank you for sharing! I wrote your information on my calendar this time. Mom always planted and killed unwanted vegetation based on the signs. She never mentioned the signs by their Zodiac name, but the body part each represented. I am so sorry I didn’t pay more attention to her. My green beans climbed to the top of the bean tower and bloomed their hearts out last year. I kept waiting for the beans to appear, but they never did. Several folks told me I planted in the wrong sign. From now on, I’m going to plant in the right sign. What can it hurt?

  • Reply
    Maggie Roberts
    April 1, 2016 at 9:02 am

    My mother always planted by the moon, and tried to teach me when I was young, but of course, science said there was nothing to it, so I didn’t listen. I thought I knew more than she did! Now I wish she were here to teach me those things again. Thanks for posting this; I’m definitely going to learn and try to plant this way.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    April 1, 2016 at 8:04 am

    Tipper–I am convinced that there is validity to planting by the signs, but I’m equally convinced that it isn’t fully feasible. Often, in my part of the world and in the Smokies, it’s necessary to plant when you can; namely, when the ground is dry enough to work. If you waited until the perfect day by the signs, all too frequently it would find you dealing with a situation where, as the simple mountain wisdom puts it, “it’s too wet to plow.”
    I’d be interested in your thinking, and that of readers on this all too real conundrum.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Lorie Thompson
    April 1, 2016 at 7:57 am

    Hi Tipper,
    I shared the calendar and your article for planting by the signs on my Facebook page. You have given a very simple explanation of how to plant by the signs. Thank you! I have my “funeral home calendar,” and I check the signs when canning or gardening. I am like Pap and Granny, in that sometimes the work has to be done on the day that I have available to do it and the signs are not the priority. I do try to follow the best times though and I believe planting in the signs brings better crops.
    I recommended your blog and you as the “go to” source for all the old times ways. I know many folks are like me and have lost their own “old folks”. Thanks again!

  • Reply
    April 1, 2016 at 7:52 am

    Quinn- Thanks for the comments! Yes I try to follow the signs when I do my seedlings and my transplanting too!

  • Reply
    April 1, 2016 at 7:40 am

    Tipper, does this also apply to when you start seedlings and when you later transplant them outdoors? I was just wondering about this yesterday.

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