Planting by the Signs: January at a glance

By Philip Case, Published:

For those of you interested in the phases of the moon and signs of the zodiac for reasons other than horoscopes, here’s the overview for the month of January. It’s still too early for any outside planting, but if you’re working in a greenhouse or with houseplants this can be of use to you.

By this time next month we’ll be ready to start talking about planting in the 2013 garden. For one, I can’t wait!


January begins and ends with the moon in the dark phase, the full moon (dark of moon) having come into force on Dec. 28. The dark moon will continue to rule until 2:44 p.m. on Jan. 11 with the light or new moon coming into force then and continuing until the full moon returns at 11:38 p.m. on Jan. 26.

Dark moon days: until early afternoon on Jan. 11 (2:44 p.m.), returning with just 22 minutes remaining on Jan. 26 (11:38 p.m.).

Light moon days: About nine hours of Jan. 11 through all but 22 minutes of Jan. 26.


Check to see if the moon is in the light or dark phase (information above) before proceeding with planting or other activities, indoors or out.

Fertile signs: the most fertile signs in the zodiac rule these days: Scorpio (the secrets), Jan. 6-7; Pisces (the feet), Jan. 14-16; Taurus (the neck), Jan. 19-21; and Cancer (the breast), Jan. 24-26. There are 11 days again this month ruled by the fertile signs: Scorpio, Taurus, Pisces and Cancer. As I said last month, again I wish we could have that many fertile days scattered through both the light and dark phases of the moon in a month during the planting season!

Killing signs: No planting, transplanting or dealing with things you want to thrive should occur on these days. Reserve them for cultivating, cleaning out fence rows – anything but planting: Leo (heart), Jan. 1, 27-28 and Aries (the head), Jan. 17-18. There are five killing days this month, those ruled by either Aries or Leo.

So-so days: These days aren’t particularly fertile nor destructive, just so-so. Here’s the breakdown, thighs through legs: Sagittarius (thighs), Jan. 8-9; Capricorn (knees) Jan. 10-11; and Aquarius (legs) Jan. 12-13. There are six days in January ruled by so-so signs.

Flowering days: These are “bloom days” and well suited for flowers as well as blooming things in the greenhouse or for the house: Virgo (the bowels), Jan. 2-3, 29-30 and Libra (reins), Jan. 4-5, 31. There are seven days this month ruled by the two flowering signs, Virgo and Libra.

Gemini days: Gemini rules the arms and there are two of them this month, Jan. 22-23. Gemini days are specifically “bean days” and we won’t be talking about beans much before late April, but then there are peas in February, weather permitting.


While my brothers and sisters at the Extension Office disagree, the old timers have always said that it doesn’t matter how wet the ground is in January and February, it’s safe to plow. I even had one man tell me, “… even if the water follows you down the furrow!”

Well, neighbors, here we are on the edge of January and the choice is yours! Personally, I’d fire up the tractor or tiller and plow right on. After all, we know the Extension Office can’t endorse planting by the phases of the moon and signs of the zodiac either … and we all know that works!


Again, here are a few general tips for activities other than planting:

>If you have gravel to pour on a drive or roadway, do that in the light of the moon so the gravel won’t sink. I have a significant number of calls about this. Same applies for stones on a garden path: Place them when the moon is in the light phase so they don’t sink. Check above for the right days.

>If you’re setting fence posts, do that in the light of the moon so the posts don’t sink.

>If you’re putting on a new shingle roof, do that when the moon’s in the dark phase so that the shingles stick down and don’t curl up on the ends.

>If you have changes to make like stopping smoking, starting a diet or exercise program, weaning small animals or children, scheduling elective surgery – anything that requires a change – here’s the ideal formula: The moon in the dark phase and the signs going out of the body, past anything that “functions” so that means thighs, knees, legs and feet – Sagittarius through Pisces.

We actually have three complete days this month when, according to the formula, we have perfect days: Jan. 8-10. The moon is in the dark phase those days and the sign is in Sagittarius (thighs) on Jan. 8-9 and in Capricorn (knees) Jan. 10.

After those days, if I was choosing based on half of the formula, I’d go with Jan. 11-16 when the moon is in the first quarter of the light phase and the signs are proceeding out of the body – Capricorn through Pisces. Just be underway with any changes by Jan. 17 when the sign goes back to Aries (the head).


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When I began my December overview of the signs of the zodiac and phases of the moon, I mentioned how we had enjoyed sliced tomatoes from our garden in the country at our Thanksgiving dinner. I shared with you then my hope to have a few make it to the Christmas dinner table – and, lo and behold, they did!

Pictured here is a shot of the relish tray that graced our table, taken by Megan’s boyfriend, Drew Curnutte. You shouldn’t have much trouble identifying the tomatoes in the two sections to the right – and they are from our garden!

I must say here I use the term “garden” in a “small” sort of way since the tomatoes came from four plants my wife and I purchased locally and planted in two 4x6-foot raised beds in the courtyard of our Browns Lane house. They were protected from the deer because they were in a walled-in courtyard and the proximity to the house guarded them from cold winds, too.

I mulched the plants back at the beginning of the summer when the drought began and gave them about an inch of “city water” a week. They did the rest and prior to a predicted freeze back in late October, I picked four dishpans of pretty green tomatoes and took them inside.

I did nothing special other than place them on the downstairs kitchen counter, which is black, and closed the blinds beside them. It’s pretty cool there and while some didn’t make it – creating something of a mess at their departure – enough did for Thanksgiving and Christmas!

After Drew sliced them for the relish tray, there was one left. I hoped just maybe I could keep it around for a nibble on New Year’s Day, but that’s not going to happen. It was soft and mushy on Thursday morning after Christmas and I had to pitch it.

I know I get excited about some of the strangest things, but I’ve never even tried to keep tomatoes after the “fresh season” passed. So, for me, this was something: Garden tomatoes on the Christmas dinner table!

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