Monday, January 3, 2011

New Moon, You Saw Me Standin' Alone...

Tomorrow is the new moon for the month of January, and, according to folks who plant by the moon cycles, it's a prime time to plant seeds, as root growth is favored for the next week, and leaf growth for the next two weeks. Planting by moon cycles has a long history of anectdotal results and not much empirical research behind it, but seeing as how I don't need much encouragement to start growing something this time of year, I'm going for it. (Apparently the tradition of planting one's potatoes out on Good Friday is directly connected to Easter's lunar calendar schedule.) I'm curious to see how well things germinate and grow, as I've certainly noticed those frustrating times when seeds refuse to sprout for weeks and weeks, and other times when they pop up within a week.

(For reference, I'm gardening in zone 5 and our average last frost date is Mother's Day weekend, which of course means there's still a 50 percent chance of a later frost.)

I started tomatoes about this time last year, and, after potting them up two times and walking them outside and back in throughout the warmer days of late March and April, I had some gorgeous, strong, vibrant tomato plants that won raves at the local food gardening Starter Barter in early May (I won't mention how I tried to shoehorn too many into my gardens when it came time to plant out and they got stressed and attacked by whiteflies and my yields were somewhat disappointing. Lesson learned.)

So in the next day or two I'm going to start some tomatoes (San Marzano sauce tomatoes for me, Cherokee Purples and Yellow Pears for Steve and the neighbors) in a flat. I'm going to wait until after the full Wolf moon on Jan. 19th to play around with starting beets and carrots to transplant out next month into a cold-frame that I have yet to build. I'll also start some leeks and onions after the full moon, as supposedly root crops are better started in the moon's third quarter. I don't know how well the beets and carrots will transplant but I do know that leeks and onions don't mind it. I read somewhere last year that tomatoes actually like being potted up a time or two, as the damage that occurs to their roots at that early stage actually stimulates the formation of stronger, healthier roots.

And, if none of these guys do well, then I've only lost an hour or two's time puttering around with potting soil and I can try it all again during February's Quickening moon.

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