Warmer temperatures, longer daylight in the evenings, bugs beginning to hum through the air...all of these can only mean one thing. Spring has fully arrived and summer is quickly approaching.
This time of year always brings up thoughts and discussion about the coming growing season. My family, like many Appalachians, has always put out a sizeable garden every year, and it is always amusing to hear all the theories surrounding when to plant, what to plant, and most importantly, under what signs everything should occur.
I still get reports through phone conversations with mamaw and dad going round and round about these details, vigorously supporting their own ideas, theories and experiences. These conversations always abound with the many factors that have to be considered when planting: the lunar calendar, the zodiac, the different "winters" such as dogwood and blackberry, the 10th of May spell. Take for instance this tidbit of wisdom:
Potatoes should be planted by the light of a full moon. No matter how deeply planted during other phases, they will rise to the surface of the soil and be sunburned during the day.
Though I've never been an expert at such things, I always find myself listening to these conversations with child-like fascination. While I don't know that this is uniquely an Appalachian practice, many old-timers I know swear by it and don't touch the ground until they've consulted a calendar.
Several books and resources on the web touch on the topic, and are listed below:
The Foxfire Series, an authority on this and many other things Appalachian
Astrological Gardening: The Ancient Wisdom of Successful Planting & Harvesting by the Stars
Agricultural Forecasting; the Methodologies of Appalachia Farming and Maya Agriculture - Appalachian State University
A particulary interesting link.
Gardening by the Moon
It also applies to canning, for those inclined:
Catching Summer in a Mason Jar - Appalachian Voice