Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

May 2, 2008

Folklore and superstitions, and itchy green thumbs: Keep a eye on the moon

Is your green thumb getting itchy? Spring’s burst of warm weather and sunbeams can make gardeners, both amateurs and pros alike, yearn to start digging in the dirt and planting — be it flowers, vegetables or landscaping plants like trees.

But old-timers, gardening experts and even “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” will tell you the time is not yet right to set out a full range of plants and flowers. Despite the burst of warm weather late last week, this region is known for an average last frost date around May 15 — which means anything tender that goes into the ground before then could be “snapped” on a frigid, frosty morning.

Checking out the 2008 edition of the “Farmer’s Almanac” online, I was reminded of the publication’s suggestion that the best time to “plant flowers and vegetables that bear crops above ground is during the light of the Moon; that is, from the day the Moon is new to the day it is full. Flowering bulbs and vegetables that bear crops below ground should be planted during the dark of the Moon; that is, from the day after it is full to the day before it is new again.”

The next full moon for our region will be May 19, and the Almanac recommends May 17-19 as the best planting dates locally for a variety of vegetables, including cabbage, lettuce, peppers, pumpkins and tomatoes.

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After writing a column a few weeks ago in which I reminiscenced about some old folklore and superstitions I learned from my grandparents while growing up, several readers contacted me to share some of the old sayings they had heard during childhood.

In my column I recalled how we were supposed to give a penny to someone who gifted us with scissors, a knife or other sharp object, but I could not remember the rationale behind it.

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