I've Been Reading the Almanac

Perpetuating the myth that northern gardeners are just frittering away these winter days and nights reading seed catalogs and gardening books, I’ve been looking through the almanac, in particular The Old Farmer’s 2009 Almanac.

Here are some of my observations, with page numbers so you can follow along if you happen to have one of these handy.

Pg. 80. The map showing the general weather forecast for 2009 indicates that Indiana (and about half the United States) will be hot and dry this summer. No! Please let this not be the case! I fear drought more than locusts or pretty much anything else that could happen to my garden.

Pg. 202-203. The outdoor planting table indicates that the moon is favorable for planting peas from March 7th - 10th and again from March 26th – 31st. What about the traditional date for planting peas, March 17th? I’ll either have to risk planting with an unfavorable moon on the 17th or wait an extra nine days to plant peas on the 26th. Or, I might try to plant my peas on the 10th, depending on the soil temperature that day.

Pg. 229. According to the Frosts and Growing Seasons table, our last frost in Indianapolis is around April 17th. That’s not been my personal experience these last several years. I think that’s too soon. I prefer to use Mother’s Day, or about May 10th, as my frost free date. And to be safe, I usually wait until nearly Memorial Day to plant the most frost tender plants like tomatoes.

Pg. 232. I’m fascinated by the “Best Days” table, which is also based on the phases of the moon. According to this table, one of the best days to start a diet to GAIN weight was January 1st. Ha! Now you know why your diet, the one you faithfully started on the 1st, isn’t working. If your goal is to lose weight, a better day to start your diet is tomorrow, January 13th.

If, weather permitting, you want to get a jump on all those weeds, good days for that are at the end of January on the 30th and 31st. If the weather is nice enough, I just might go out and pull some henbit myself. Oh, wait, the ground will be frozen, most likely. Never mind. You southern gardeners, though, embrace weeding at the end of the month for all of us.

In the right climate, January 15th is supposed to be a good day to both plant and harvest below ground crops, get dental care and I’ll go out on a limb here and add post on your blog about what is blooming in your garden.

Does anyone else read the almanac or use the information in it to plan to do things, like planting, by the phases of the moon?


  1. Very interesting. I love reading the Almanac. But I think you should stick with your instincts on the last frost date -- better safe than sorry. As for weeding, YOU can embrace it; I'll stick to dreading it!

  2. I enjoy The Almanac too and it's surprising how accurate its predictions are. After all the rain we had here in NS last summer, hot and dry actually sounds rather nice. :)

  3. Yikes. If we planted peas in March, they'd be SNOW peas. Late April for some, more like early to mid-May for most of us. Even later for sweet peas, of course.

  4. The almanac seems mostly a combination of common sense and superstition. I'm afraid that I'm not a big fan--particularly when there is so many other things that must be read.

    As for the prediction of a dry, hot summer...I hope that's one that's wrong for you. Drought is the worst of the plagues--maybe.

    Robin Wedewer
    National Gardening Examiner

  5. My grandfather often consulted the almanac, but he had his own superstitions, too. Potatoes were always supposed to be planted on Good Friday. I always wondered how that worked, though, when Good Friday sometimes fell in March and other times April.

    Uh oh, looks like I'd better get serious about that diet today!

  6. No have never read the Almanac, probably should it's very interesting. I'll be weeding for sure, not sure that I'll embrace it though. No I do not want a dry summer either.

  7. No almanac here, although I'd probably find it very entertaining. I'm glad I waited to start back on Weight Watchers!

  8. I use the Almanac. I subscribe to two, the Old Farmer's Almanac (Ben Franklin's baby) and Mrs. Blum's Almanac. Every month I type out the Planting by the Moon Guide for "my" Garden Center, and put it in it's vinyl page protector frame at the register desk. It generates much conversation! But I also read both to get a "feel" for what to expect in the upcoming weather. Then I do some thinking, and some observation, and I make my own prognostications. I'm getting pretty good at weather reading!

    OH and Carol, I chose you to pass on this Friendship award. THANK you for all the inspiration you have given me!



  9. I like to read the Almanac and have been thinking that I must go get the '09 and the calendar which has good planting tips and moon phases. Interesting reading but your experience will be a better gauge as I think the Almanac has a poor track record for accuracy.

  10. Lots of the locals in my area (mountains of western NC) swear by planting by the signs although I can't say I've seen a whole lot of difference if I did or didn't. The crop success seems more dependent of rain or lack of and bugs.

  11. I enjoy reading the almanac too. I was told we were going to have a very cold winter in Colorado, but so far it's been mild. It was right the last two years. Nice to find another blogger in ZONE 5!

  12. Hi Carol, I love the almanac too, but don't always, well never, pay attention to the right planting dates, but it's still fun. I get the online newsletter and read from there. Lots of good recipes and that always fun lore! Big on lore, we are. I thought for sure you were going to say the almanac would say something about being sure to post on the 15th for bloom day. Maybe some day they will!

  13. Sort of like Walla Walla.


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