Old wives’ tales have grains of truth

Published 6:04 am Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I like to believe in old wives’ tales.  It’s been my experience that more often than not, there’s a grain of truth to them.  Like the time I read about using eggs to lower your child’s fever, I tried it on my son and what do you know … it worked.  So when I picked up an old copy of Foxfire magazine and read about planting your garden by the phases of the moon, I decided to give it a try.  As with most wives’ tales, there is some science backing it up.   Just as the moon pulls the tides in the oceans, it also pulls upon the subtle bodies of water, causing moisture to rise in the earth, which encourages growth. The highest amount of moisture is in the soil at this time, and tests have proven that seeds will absorb the most water at the time of the full moon.  Here’s a guideline on how it works.

At the new moon, the lunar gravity pulls water up, and causes the seeds to swell and burst. This, along with increased moonlight, creates balanced root and leaf growth. This is the best time for planting above ground annual crops that produce their seeds outside the fruit. Examples are lettuce, spinach, celery, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and grain crops. Cucumbers like this phase also, even though they are an exception to that rule.

In the second quarter the gravitational pull is less, but the moonlight is strong, creating strong leaf growth. It is generally a good time for planting, especially two days before the full moon. The types of crops that prefer the second quarter are annuals that produce above ground, but their seeds form inside the fruit, such as beans, melons, peas, peppers, squash, and tomatoes. Mow lawns in the first or second quarter to increase growth.

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After the full moon, as the moon wanes, the energy is drawing down. The gravitation pull is high, creating more moisture in the soil, but the moonlight is decreasing, putting energy into the roots. This is a favorable time for planting root crops, including beets, carrots, onions, potatoes, and peanuts. It is also good for perennials, biennials, bulbs and transplanting because of the active root growth.

In the fourth quarter there is decreased gravitational pull and moonlight, and it is considered a resting period. This is also the best time to cultivate, harvest, transplant and prune. Mow lawns in the third or fourth quarter to retard growth.

So far, my garden is looking great.  This week at the market, there is a wonderful selection of fresh produce including rainbow Swiss chard, baby red potatoes, green onions, lettuce, beets and much more.  Don’t forget to browse our crafters’ booths.  You can find some one of a kind gift items there.

The Austin Area Farmers’ Market is open Thursdays, 3:30 to 6 p.m. downtown, Main Street, Mondays, 3:30 to 6:00 p.m. at the Oak Park Mall and Saturdays, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., Oak Park Mall. We accept all major credit cards and EBT.  EBT users, don’t forget the BCBS double your bucks program, for the first $5 you spend, you will receive $5 in matching bucks.