As we look back 40 years ago to the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969, our thoughts turn to gardening, as they always do.
I remember where I was when Neil Armstrong first stepped onto that plant-less moon, do you?
I was in the family room at home watching it all on a 19-inch black and white television set, all ready to take pictures of the television to capture the moment on film. We obviously had no VCR’s back then. And no You-Tube, either. No siree bob! We had never even heard or imagined of something that could record television shows like that, let alone the Internet. But we had read something in the newspaper about how to take pictures of the television with our cameras while the broadcast took place, so we set up TV trays in front of the TV to help us hold our little Kodak Instamatic cameras real still and clicked away.
We probably took just one or two pictures each, my sisters and brother and I. I’d love to have those pictures now but have no idea where they are, if any of my siblings have some of them or if they got tossed away at some point in time.
At the time of the moon landing, our kitchen counters were probably loaded down with cucumbers, green beans and peppers from the garden, just like mine are now. And we probably had more than one or two ripe tomatoes at that time, too, because my Dad always did manage to harvest his tomatoes much earlier than I ever have. I’m still not sure exactly how he managed that, but I have a pretty good idea that it took way more time and effort than I am willing to put forth. He sowed the seeds very early and up-potted them several times before that last frost. Then he hauled them outside on any day warm enough for them, and hauled them back inside in the event of a frost warning, until finally it warmed up enough that he could plant them outside for good. By that time the plants were probably two feet tall and flowering.
I also wonder if he didn’t secretly check the moon phase and sow his seeds on a day that was supposedly the best day to sow seedlings for plants that were grown to produce a fruit like that.
Does anyone plant strictly according to the signs of the moon and does it make a difference?
I always mean to. I even have a couple of books that go into some detail explaining how to plant by the moon. I’ve looked through them but they make it seem a tad bit complicated, though I suspect if I really dug into it, I’d find it isn’t that difficult to follow. Basically, you plant above ground crops in the light of the moon (from new moon to full moon) and plant below ground crops in the dark of the moon (from full moon to new moon). (Right? I think that's right.)
Every year, I also buy an almanac that has tables listing all the vegetables I would grow and when the moon is favorable for planting. But then spring comes and I generally plant when I can, regardless of the moon.
By the way, my almanac says that the moon is favorable tomorrow for planting late beans. I think I’ll sow some and see what it happens. It also says that the moon wasn’t favorable when I planted my first beans, so I’m not sure how to explain the five pounds of beans still in the refrigerator. Just how good a crop would I have had, had I waited until the moon was favorable to plant those?
There is also a “best days” chart in the almanac that is based on the moon’s signs. According to that chart, today and tomorrow are good days to end projects; plant below ground crops; graft or pollinate; and can, pickle, or make sauerkraut. I’m not sure how that works with the other chart about planting beans tomorrow but who am I to disagree?
I just know that 40 years ago today, we put a man on the moon, and today it has made me think more about how the moon affects my garden. Next year, maybe I really will finally plant by the signs of the moon…