>Potatoes and the moon

>I missed the total eclipse of the moon early on Thursday morning – I looked out at 4 a.m., but couldnt see the moon because it was covered by cloud. Just in case the moon does have its claimed influence on the garden, though,today, the day after the full moon, we planted our potatoes to give them the best chance. It gets so dry here later in the year that they have to be planted in February – 75 days till harvest for the earlies, it says on the label, so we should have new potatoes around the beginning of May. Any later and they will need too much expensive water.

Traditionally the phases of the moon have been seen as having an effect on the growth of plants and gardening planting, sowing and harvesting have been governed by the lunar calendar. The experienced gardeners here in Gabian refer to it often, although they dont always follow it. Because vegetables contain a large proportion of water, the idea is that the moon affects them as it does the tides in the seas. A new moon draws water upwards and so this is the best time for planting leaf crops like salads and cabbages. After the full moon, its waning encourages water down towards the soil and this is therefore the best time for planting root crops like potatoes, and for transplanting. Detailed lunar calendars are published which give precise dates throughout the year when particular garden tasks are recommended. I bought one last year, Le Calendrier Lunaire du bon jardinier although I didnt follow it very closely. Well see whether the potatoes do better this year than last year when we planted them at the wrong time.

I knew that in Wales the traditional day for planting potatoes has always been Good Friday, but I didnt know why until our friend Drew, who now lives in Navarra, explained that it would be the day of the pascal moon. Drew also sent me a quote about pig killing from Flora Thompsons Lark Rise to Candleford trilogy: the killing had to take place some time during the first two quarters of the moon; for if the pig was killed when the moon was waning, the bacon would shrink in the cooking, and they wanted it to “plimp up”.

The anemones are coming out now, too.

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