Jeanette Underwood holds her gardening bible, a collector’s item Farmer’s Almanac.

Intro by Charlotte Underwood

Planting by the signs

By Jeanette Underwood

LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – It’s planting season in East Tennessee, but do you know when you should plant your different kinds of crops, or when is a good time to plow or pull weeds? Did you know the first three phases of the moon are good for planting, but the last phase is when you should “turn ground” or destroy weeds and that certain times of the month are better than others for planting different things. It’s all part of an old tradition called planting by the signs; something my family grew up doing here in East Tennessee.

My mother has been planting by the signs since she moved here over 50 years ago when she married my dad. My dad’s parents taught her about planting by the signs and she has grown her garden that way ever since. Whenever I plant something, I give her a call and ask her advice so I can carry on that tradition. I asked her to write down everything she could remember about planting by the signs to share with our readers. She is also an avid reader of the Old Farmer’s Almanac and uses it as a guide for planting by the signs as well. She keeps a tattered copy from when I was a kid in 1992. It was the special 200th anniversary edition and every time she loans it to me, I get a reminder that she wants it back!

Though tattered and worn, this is Jeannette Underwood’s keepsake 200th anniversary issue of the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

An Almanac and certain calendars will tell what day of the month is in what sign and moon phase. That information can also be found online. So, without further ado, here are tips and planting guides from my mama.

Charlotte Underwood’s mother, Jeannette Underwood (above), shares planting by the signs tips with us.

Planting by the signs as recalled by Jeanette Underwood:
I had never heard of planting by the signs until I married a man from Tennessee. His parents enlightened me. The four phases of the moon are involved, as well as the astrological signs.

The Bible mentions the importance of the signs in Genesis 1:14. “And God said let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.”  And in Ecclesiastes 3: 1 and 2, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heavens. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.”

The first three phases of the moon are favorable for planting, while the last phase is better for turning ground, pulling weeds, and destroying noxious growths. The time from the new moon to the first quarter is called the first quarter. It’s the time to plant or transplant above ground crops that produce seeds on the outside (strawberries, corn) and leafy vegetables such as lettuce.
Between the first quarter and the full moon, plant or transplant above ground crops that form seeds inside such as tomatoes, beans, peas and squash. Between the full moon and the last quarter, plant root crops.

The astrological signs have different characteristics that affect planting as well, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. Each sign will correspond with a place in the body and the signs symbol for earth, water, fire or air. The Almanac lists the signs with their attributes as follows:
Aquarius, waterman, legs, airy, dry, barren, masculine
Pisces, fish, feet, watery, fruitful, feminine
Aries, ram, head, fiery, dry, barren
Taurus, bull, neck, earthy, moist
Gemini, twins, arms, airy, dry, barren
Cancer, crab, breast, watery, very fruitful
Leo, lion, heart, fiery, dry barren
Virgo, virgin, bowels, earthy, dry, barren
Libra, scales, veins, airy, moist, semi-fruitful, best for flowers
Scorpio, scorpion, loins, watery, fruitful, moist
Sagittarius, bowman, thighs, fiery, dry, barren
Capricorn, goat, knees, earthy, moist

Only plant in the fruitful, moist signs. Avoid planting on the first day of the new moon and also the days when it changes. Granny always said not to do anything on Sunday. The barren signs are good for grubbing, trimming, deadening pests, plowing and cultivating, especially Gemini, Leo and Virgo.

We didn’t always follow the signs and the results showed. Once we planted potatoes in very rich ground. The plants grew very well-quite tall. But when we dug the taters, we only got a few bushels – about as much as we had planted. At the time, my father-in-law said the signs must have “been in the arms” (Gemini).

Normally cucumbers grow well for me, but once I planted some in a fertile place, but didn’t pay attention to the signs. They were mostly vines and leaves, but very few cucumbers. So I try to go by the signs when I plant my garden.

Helpful calendar hint:  When you see the moon sign on the calendar, if it says first quarter, it is actually the last day of the first quarter. The second quarter ends with the sign of the full moon, which is followed by the third quarter and then the last or fourth quarter ends with the new moon symbolized by a black moon.

Happy planting and God bless!  (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 04/28/2020-6AM)

One Reply to “Planting by the signs”

  1. This is great, Thank you for sharing this. We need more of things like this to teach our younger generations.

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