Tag Archives: Good Friday

Planting by the ‘signs’ so old, it’s new again

March 30, 2012
Planting by ‘the signs’ so old, it’s new again – and timely!

Good Friday – April 6 – is traditional planting time. Some people go by the calendar when they plant, some by how the weather feels. Like now: It’s
(freakishly) warm, right?
But the old folks used to take into account the moon and stars.
Maria Thun, who lives in Germany and has been putting her guide together since the 1950s, is the internationally recognized expert on this, known in
biodynamic farming circles as the voice of planting by “the signs.” Thun’s guide is published in 18 languages.
Such calculations can also tell the best time to work with bees, Thun contends. As the bees live in darkness in their hives, their rhythms are along
the lines of root crops, which have their own cycles she calls “root days.”
The best time to plant flowering plants is on “flower days,” she says, when the ascending moon is in Libra, Gemini or Aquarius. Fruit plants grown from
seed such as beans and tomatoes are best planted or tended on “fruit days” when the ascending moon is in Leo, Sagittarius or Aries. Cabbages, lettuces and the like are best tended on “leaf days.”
Thun’s guide for 2012 shows this week to be a good time to plant, with leaf days Sunday and Monday; fruit days late Monday and all day Tuesday; and a
partial root day Thursday.
From April 8-14: Partial root and flower Sunday (Easter); partial flower and leaf Monday; leaf Tuesday; partial leaf and fruit Wednesday; fruit Thursday and Friday; and root Saturday.
The Best Southern U.S. transplanting time is April 11-25.
Her North American Biodynamic Sowing and Planting Calendar 2012 (Floris Books, $13.95) is available from Steiner Books: P.O. Box 960; Herndon VA 20172-0960; (703) 661-1594; or http://www.steinerbooks.org.

Worms not so icky, huh: My column on earthworms was a big hit.
A caller said his late wife used to order worms through the mail and sprinkle them around her garden. It was less messy than raising worms, he said. You can buy red wigglers by the pound at bait shops, or order them online. (Here’s one place we have bought worms: http://www.unclejimswormfarm.com/. You can buy 1,000 for $18.95 plus shipping.)
The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality has a web page devoted to vermi-composting: http://bit.ly/HmxboE .
The “Worm Woman” lives on: Although Mary “Worm Woman” Appelhof died in 2005, her writings live on: http://www.wormwoman. com.
World Wide Worm Web?: For all worms all the time, commentary, forums, etc., see: http://www.wormdigest.org.
The definitive book on worms: The Earth Moved by Amy Stewart – a New York Times best-selling author, no less – with 213 pages on worms, just reissued in
paperback: Algonquin Books; $12.95.

Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, writer, editor, organic farmer and blogger. His latest book titled Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press) is in bookstores now. Find Jim on Facebook: http://bit.ly/cuxUdc or follow him @edibleprayers or @organicwriter or visit blueskywaters.com.

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‘Traditional’ planting time

April 15, 2011

‘Traditional’ planting time no longer set in stone

Next week marks Earth Day and Good Friday – both major events for gardeners (aside from religious and social reasons).

Good Friday is the traditional day central Mississippians have planted seeds in their gardens.

Some old-time gardeners plant by the moon, which means they plant while the moon is waxing, not waning; in which case, you’re a bit late as Monday is full moon. You would have to wait until May 3 (new moon) to “plant by the dark of the moon” with it waxing again – which could be a good idea for plants that like hot weather, like okra.

When is the right time to plant? Nowdays, there are so many hybrids that can be planted at various times that it’s hard to tell when the right time may be. For example, when I was young, farmers would want to get their corn in the ground by April 15 so they could avoid pests later on and still have time to plant soybeans and/or cotton.

The rule of thumb for cotton and other summer crops was that the soil temperature would be right when folks stopped sitting on buckets to fish and instead sat directly on the ground. (If your bottom didn’t get cold, it was warm enough to plant.)

Nowdays, though, I see folks planting corn in the middle of May; and a lot of folks don’t plant by the moon, or Good Friday.

And have you tried to buy corn that’s not genetically modified? A friend and I have been trying to find old traditional, local varieties to plant, without much luck.

Pioneer, which used to be a widespread variety here is no more, unless it’s GMO (which is banned for organic).

Mosby Prolific Corn (introduced by J.K. Mosby of Lockhart, Miss., in the 1800s), which used to be widespread, is now a rare heirloom that, as far as I can find, is not available locally in bulk seed.

We should be conserving local heirloom seeds, not allowing them to be bought up by multinational ag giants, to be modified genetically or discontinued and allowed to go extinct. Genetic diversity in plants is something we owe to future generations and it doesn’t belong to anyone, much less as a patented monopoly.

Normally, I would plant the week after Easter, since we here in central Mississippi usually have a cold spell then. But the temperatures have been well above normal and Easter is late this year.

So, we’ve been planting, really, since mid-March. Up so far are peas, onions, shallots, various greens, lettuces and chard. We’ve also been planting: tomatoes, melons, squash, cucumbers, beans, nasturtiums (edible flowers) and various other plants. Because of the heat, some of our plants, such as radishes and salad mizuna, just bolted. They bypassed maturity. The weather got them confused!

You want to plant as early as possible, being mindful of the number of days listed on the seed packages for maturity. For example, if you plant April 15 and it says on the package “90 days,” that means its average date to bear fruit will be July 15.

We’ve found that, growing organic, the later you plant, the more problems with insects and weather. So, if you plant May 15 in that hypothetical plot, fruition will be Aug. 15, which is also usually quite hot in Mississippi and often a time of drought.

Lots of varieties wilt in temps above 100 or won’t bear fruit and treated water can stunt microrganisms in the soil which further stress plants, leading to insect problems and disease.

So, plant as early as you feel you comfortably can.

Remember: Organic! A Reminder on planting: If you’ve got your 4-by-8-foot Jim’s plot up and running, that is, having put compost in it all winter, you should be able to disc it up easily with a shovel.

Remember to use certified organic seeds or heirloom varieties and no synthetic fertilizers.

When you’re ready to plant, cover each seed or roots with fish emulsion and kelp (there are dozens of trade names, check with your local garden store) as fertilizer, mixed with water; it should be plenty of a boost, along with any amendments you have already added like compost, and/or pellets of dolomitic lime or greensand.

Earth Day: Big observances are planned in Starkville and Oxford:

•At Starkville, Mississippi State University’s Earth Day and ECO Week are in the works. The main event will be the Earth Day Fair on Thursday, since the campus is closed for Good Friday. Green Starkville, MSU ECO and the Students for Sustainable Campus are teaming for this event.

For more information, see: http://www.greenstarkville. org/earth-day-2011.

•Oxford, the University of Mississippi and Yokna(patawpha) Bottoms Farm are celebrating Green Week today through April 22.

For more information, see: http://www.mississippigreenweek.com and http://yoknabottoms.com.

Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, writer, editor, organic farmer and blogger. His latest book titled Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press) is in bookstores now. Find Jim on Facebook: http://bit.ly/cuxUdc or follow him @edibleprayers or @organicwriter or visit blueskywaters.com.

Soil’s Voracious Appetite

February 11, 2011

Soil with voracious appetite key to organic garden

How’s your 4×8-foot organic “Jim’s Plot” doing? If your garden is like ours, most of the plants have played out their life cycle or succumbed to the cold weather, even using Agribon or some type of frost-prevention row covers.

It’s a mixed lot; and a pretty ragged one! This winter has not been kind, but it should pay off with fewer bugs in summer.

Some of these plants, like the chard and carrots, will spring to life in spring. So, don’t be too quick to pull up old plants if they appear to have good roots.

Pretty soon it will be time to plant again. I know, looking at seed catalogs has you champing at the bit, but it’s not time yet.

Look ahead on the calendar. When do you intend to plant?

Here in central Mississippi, the old folks used to plant seeds on Good Friday, which this year is April 22. To be cautious, I’ve always planted a week after Easter, as we sometimes have a frost that week; Easter this year is April 24. That’s kind of late.

We’ll probably set out plants in March, relying on Agribon to protect them from frost; but that’s a gamble. According to the temperature tables, there’s a 50 percent chance of 28 degree weather where we are on March 9, and warms thereafter.

Here’s a pdf frost chart for Miss.: http://bit.ly/f8QSAb.

For all states, see: http://bit.ly/i5SmsT.

Most of our neighbors set out summer crop plants the first week in May. But there’s a caveat: They use pesticides, herbicides, etc. For organic growing, if you want to beat the bugs, plant as early as you can after the last frost date. We don’t have the luxury of spraying bugs.

So, to set your planting timetable, count back at least 60 days (and possibly 90 days), which should be now: Time to work your soil to make sure that it will have digested all the old plant material from your cover crops and any other green amendments so you are not robbing your new plants in spring from nitrogen being used in the decomposition process.

Why the variation in time? You want your soil to be hungry and healthy.

Healthy soil with lots of microorganisms in it is hungry and will digest vegetable matter quickly, turning it into rich, moist earth with lots of “loft” in it, to hold moisture and combat compaction; unhealthy soil will take time.

You know that smell of freshly turned earth? That’s actually the odor of actinomycetes, fungi-like bacteria. Soil repeatedly dosed with chemicals lacks that odor and the moist, crumbly texture of living soils.

Chemically laced soils can still grow crops when more chemicals are added, even when all the naturally occurring fungi that act to feed plants are killed off by them. But we want a full organic symphony of nutrients for full flavors with our food crops.

You can quicken the soil digestion process, if needed, by adding micro-organisms used for compost (such as actinomycetes, rhizobial bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi, Azolla, yeast and others, as long as they are not genetically modified organisms, GMO, which are forbidden in organic products) available from garden supply stores or online. Healthy micro-organisms with lots of vegetable mass for them to eat create robust soils for healthier, bountiful crops.

You might also consider buying a screw-in chlorine filter for your garden hose (available from pool or spa supply stores) to use when watering to keep from stunting the soil micro-organisms.

Keep dumping composted compost in your plot; and stir it around some. If you have some leaves, put them in; keep turning them. It may not appear that much is happening in your garden, but it’s busy. The soil is repairing itself from the growing season, with a little help from you, to make it ready for spring.

We want soil for planting with good “tilth,” crumbly and loose, that smells alive like fresh-turned earth!

Homesteaders, have you ordered your chickens yet?

If you plan on backyard chickens, the major suppliers generally ship from February to July.

Some online sites:

Video – PallenSmith Choosing the Right Chicken Breed for You: http://ow.ly/2Pmzf.

Catalog: Murray McMurray Hatchery: http://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com. Or write: Murray McMurray Hatchery, PO BOX 458, 191 Closz Drive, Webster City Iowa 50595. Phone: (515) 832-3280.

Upcoming events:

Annette and I will be at the Gaining Ground-Sustainability Institute of Mississippi conference on “Sustainable Living” Feb. 19-20 in Hattiesburg (Note: Felder Rushing was scheduled to speak, but he is unable to attend). For additional information, visit http://www.ggsim.org.

Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, writer, editor, organic farmer and blogger. His latest book titled Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press) is in bookstores now. Find Jim on Facebook: http://bit.ly/cuxUdc or follow him @edibleprayers or @organicwriter or visit blueskywaters.com.