Planting by the Signs: Moon in light phase; so-so signs are coming to an end

By Philip Case, Published:

I don’t know about you, but this warm weather gets me in the mood to do a little gardening. Then when I read Kim Cowherd’s column about starting your own transplants from seed, well, the ol’ green thumb really got to itching.

However, I counsel caution and patience at this point. It’s way too early to start plants for your 2013 garden. About all we can do now is get our garden spots plowed and ready to go when we’re really a little closer to spring and the end of winter instead of just more than three weeks into winter!

If, however, you’re doing any planting or plant work in a greenhouse or the house, here’s the information for this week. Then below I share some other related information about sowing seed.

The moon is in the light phase now, the new moon having come into force Thursday. It will continue to rule until the full moon arrives with just 22 minutes left on Jan. 26, 11:38 to be precise.

If you’re doing any indoor or protected planting, the focus should be on above-ground producers.

A look at the signs reveals today is the final in a series of so-so signs with Aquarius (the legs) in force.

The very fertile sign Pisces (the feet) comes to rule Monday through Wednesday with the moon, of course, in the light phase. Were you planting, you could plant anything that produces above the ground on any of these days.

The good ride ends Thursday and Friday, however, when the sign moves to Aries (the head) one of the two killing signs. These are great days for cultivating, cleaning out fencerows, finishing up work on your 2012 garden – anything but planting.

The good news is that fertile signs return Saturday through next Monday, Jan. 19-21, when the sign moves to Taurus (the neck), another of the four most fruitful signs. Just like the three Pisces days that start this week, these Taurus days are great for any above-ground planting or tending to things you’re interested in thriving.

Looking ahead, Jan. 22-23 find the sign moving to Gemini (the arms), the peas or beans sign. Kim’s father, the late Harry Cowherd, would say it’s okay to plant peas now and they should, for sure, be in the ground by Washington’s Birthday on or about Feb. 18.

An avid gardener, Dr. Cowherd was insistent about this, as ridiculous as it may seem. And Kim can confirm his insistence!

All that to say, these are great pea-planting days with the sign in Gemini and the moon in the light phase. That, of course, if you’re into planting a mile of peas to get a few quarts and if your ground is ready.


A reader emailed earlier in the week and asked when’s the best time to sow grass seed. The scientists at the University of Kentucky tell us the best time is in the fall. If that’s so, close on its heels is when the dark moon rules in the month of February and that will be Feb. 1-9, 25-28.

I told the reader – and I tell you, too – before you start planting, get a soil test. You can get instructions at the County Extension Office, 101 Lakeview Ct., 695-9035. Get it done NOW before the labs at UK get busy for the spring.

When you receive that information then, whether you’re sowing seed in a small yard or 50 acres of fescue, you’ll know what your ground needs in the way of nutrients. The old days of spreading some 10-10-10 on the ground are gone since you might need more potassium, say, and less phosphate – or vice versa.

Why guess – get a soil test!

Then follow the suggestions from the Extension Office or a reputable, knowledgeable fertilizer and seed dealer regarding what fertilizer to purchase. Do it and spread it.

Seed is the last thing and I’d suggest consulting the experts for that, too. I did some many, many years ago – and have written about that in this space each year – and it paid off incredibly with a great stand of grass on our Browns Lane farm, which isn’t ours any more but remains loved by the new owner – and me!

Clark and I fertilized those fields and planted the seed mix recommended by then-agriculture agent Roger Sparrow and supplied by Southern States. It was done in February and the seed went down when the moon was in the dark phase.

Call me crazy if you like – lots do – but if you’d like to see the proof of the pudding, as they say, drive out and take a look at those fields! They were “renovated,” as Keenan likes to call pasture upgrading, according to the aforementioned formula.

Call, text or email me if you have questions or need clarification.


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 now through February. There’s plenty of time for the ground to freeze and thaw – if it ever gets cold again of course. Just get it done before March comes in like a lion … or lamb.

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