Late frost reminder summer's not here yet!

By PHILIP W. CASE State Journal Spectrum Editor Published:

Last Thursday morning there was frost on Browns Lane, just west of picturesque Bridgeport! Thats right: Frost on April 27!

I tell you this to underscore the point that winters not quite done with us yet as much as we might like for that to be the case. Id heard the weatherman say Wednesday night there was a chance of frost in outlying areas, and lo and behold he hit the nail on the head at least in my outlying area.

This reminds us that getting in a hurry and planting veggies that arent resistant to frost and/or freezing weather can result in heartbreak when you go to the garden one chilly morning and theyre all black and dead. Statistically speaking, we have a couple of more weeks before its really all clear but even as I say that Im going to take some exception with it, so read on!

Heres the information for planting your garden by the phases of the moon and signs of the zodiac for this week.

Moon is light now

The moon is in the light phase now, the new moon having come into force Thursday the same Thursday I mentioned above when the frost came to call. Until the next full moon on May 13, only those veggies that produce above the ground should be planted.

Now, the signs

The signs of the zodiac provide us a dilemma this week as we remember the late frost of Thursday.

Were all anxious to get out our warm-weather crops but in addition to frost its important to remember another factor which dictates the success of these veggies: Warm soil temperatures. It doesnt matter if the air temperature is in the 70s or 80s in the day if it drops into the 40s and 50s at night. Much of the warming the soil has experienced is lost to nighttime cooling.

Hot daytime temperatures and warm nights are the keys to warming Mother Earth. And warm-weather/summer crops require warm dirt to grow as much or more as they need warm daytime temperatures.

Got the idea: Warm is the operative word here!

That said, today and Monday find the sign in Gemini (the arms) the bean sign. Beans planted on Gemini days, according to the believers, will grow as long as your arms and just keep producing and producing.

If you want to try an early crop of beans, if you have the space and if youre willing to risk losing the whole bunch if you cant cover them, then you might want to plant some early beans. By the time they germinate in 7-10 days well be that much closer to the statistical last date for frost which is around Mothers Day, May 14 this year.

That calls entirely up to you, however. You could have the earliest beans on the block or be replanting in a few weeks!

Generally great planting is on tap for Tuesday through Thursday when the sign moves to Cancer (the breast) one of the four most fruitful signs. Here again you can put out above-ground producers if you like, considering the cautions above, just be ready to cover them should the temperature plummet.

All planting should cease Friday and Saturday when the sign moves to Leo (the heart), one of the killing signs. Reserve these days for killing, deadening, cultivating, mowing anything but planting.

A series of flowering days begins next Monday and continues through Thursday, May 11. I get a lot of questions about when to plant flowers, according to The System, and these would be the days.

Specifically, the period May 7-9 is ruled by Virgo (the bowels), followed by May 10-11 under the influence of Libra (the reins). Flowers planted in either of these signs should bloom and do so abundantly. Id avoid planting veggies, however, since these are bloom days and you dont want your tomatoes blooming and blooming and failing to set much fruit.

I realize I havent gotten to some of the questions Ive had over the phone, via e-mail or from audience members at recent talks on The System, but Im out of space for this week. Ill deal with them soon in a special column.

For now, neighbors, its time to garden!

I welcome your questions! Dont hesitate to call me at 223-8422 (home) or 227-4556 (The State Journal) or e-mail me at pcase@state-journal.com. If you have questions about different varieties of plants, contact Kim Cowherd, horticulture agent at the Franklin County Extension Office (695-9035) or one of our many fine local nurseries.

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