Plant By The Light of the Moon
I like to think of 23 year-old Josephine sitting primly on the couch seriously entertaining Everoul’s offer.
There must have been family pressure: she was still living with her parents and that was getting awkward. Then there was the language barrier: she only spoke French and Everoul was asking her to move to English-only Saskatchewan. And finally, she hardly knew Everoul and had only recently met him for the purpose of getting engaged.
When Everoul proposed marriage and a move west to his homestead, Josephine was an old maid going blind from glaucoma. So she accepted the offer she couldn’t refuse and started her new life in Saskatchewan with the good looking adventurer who had taken his bike with him when he first went west to find a farm.
His plan, my uncles explained to me, was to ride as far as he could from the train station until he found the right homestead to buy. That would hardly appeal to my grandma who had been living a sheltered life with her family in Quebec.
In Saskatchewan, Josephine raised a big garden. She slaughtered chickens, milked the cow and did all the cooking for her growing family. When my Grandpa went north to make money logging, sometimes for months at a time, my Grandma stayed home with the baby of the year and the older kids so she could keep milking cows and feeding chickens.
With 14 pregnancies, Josephine didn’t get out much and she never learned English so that made it hard for me to communicate with her when we first met in 1967. At that time she she was in her 70’s and I was in grade 5.
My grandma didn’t understand English but she understood the language of the moon and she knew the best time to grow food was when the moon was growing so she seeded between the new moon and the full moon. As the moon grows bigger, the gravitational pull makes tides stronger and seeds sprout faster. You might already have some early seeds planted and sprouting but if you don’t it is just about that time.
This month the new moon is on April 26th. Plant your cold tolerant plants outdoors between the new moon and the full moon on May 10th.
Cold tolerant plants include asparagus, kale, spinach, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, peas, garlic, lettuce, mustard greens, broad beans, Pak Choi and parsnips. If you are still sitting on the couch, thinking about your options, get out there and get gardening. Seriously. I’m not asking you to get married, or move west. I am just asking you learn the language of the moon and plant a few seeds this month as the moon gets big.
Things I’ve learned this season
I learned from my grandma and my mom that gardening is part feeling, part science and part folklore. If you have a feeling about something just grow it.
I learned last spring from Urban Farmer Travis Kennedy (Lactua.ca) in Edmonton that spinach planted in the fall over-wintered outside so forget about waiting to plant it on the May 24th weekend and get it in the ground as soon as you can. The same goes for garlic. If you missed planting it last fall get your sprouting cloves planted right away.
I also learned that once the soil warms up to 10 degrees C (50 degrees F) you can start planting warm season crops, but wait for the next new moon, when it will be ideal to start planting warm season crops directly outdoors on May 25th. And if you were wondering about the value of those warm season crops consider this: Kennedy charges more than $20.00 per pound for vine ripened, Edmonton-grown, cantaloupes. That means Kennedy earns up to $60.00 per fruit sold at market.
PS Corn prefers to germinate when the soil is 60 F. Plan to start it indoors or wait quite a while to direct seed it outside.
Cantaloupes are also called musk melons and they like it hot so delay planting these outdoors as long as possible this spring.
What Would Donna Do?
Get my growing and gardening tips and pointers throughout the season.