The gardening question at least for this week is: if your ground is plowed and ready, is it too wet to plant?
And the answer: check before proceeding. We’ve had rain but a lot of sunshine, too, so it may be OK.
As I often caution, resist any temptation to plant if your ground is wet. And here’s a simple test:
Scoop up a handful of soil and squeeze it. If it remains a “mud clod” when you stop squeezing, then it’s too wet. But if the dirt crumbles when you release your “fist,” then it’s dry enough to plant. It may still be a bit moist, just not sticking together.
Planting in wet ground is simply not a good idea because when the disturbed ground dries it will dry like a mud clod and that will impede if not prevent sprouts from seeds from pushing through to the surface and clamp down around the stems of your transplants.
The best rule of thumb is: If it’s wet, just wait.
If you can’t plant outdoors, you certainly can plant in a greenhouse or cold frame if the ground in the latter has been protected from the rain. Here’s this week’s information according to the phases of the moon and signs of the zodiac.
The moon remains in the light phase until the full moon at 3:42 a.m. Tuesday (Tax Day). Confine all planting to above-ground producers. And if you’re sowing seed for later transplanting, confine your seeding to veggies that will produce above the ground when in the garden — like tomatoes and peppers.
Then beginning Tuesday afternoon and until the next new moon at 2:14 a.m. April 29, plant only below-ground producers from the cool-weather lovers below — and there are plenty of them!
The light moon will then continue to rule until 3:16 p.m. May 14 and, if all goes well, we should have a good, long time for above-ground producers since the danger of frost will statistically pass toward the end of that period. But again, that’s statistically — we’ve had some mighty late frosts in these parts!
The signs of the zodiac find us in the third day of our monthly series of flowering signs. Libra (the reins) rules today through Tuesday. Garden stores have plenty of flowers now so pick some up to beautify your place all summer.
Outstanding planting for your below-ground producers (remember: the moon changes phases Tuesday morning early) is on tap for Wednesday and Thursday when the sign moves to Scorpio (the secrets), one of the four most fertile signs.
Have a look at the cool-weather loving veggies listed here and see if you’re interested in any. If the ground is dry enough, either of these days will be great ones for planting.
Beginning Friday and continuing through April 23 is our monthly period of so-so signs. Sagittarius (the thighs) rules Friday and Saturday, Capricorn (the knees) next Sunday and April 21 and Aquarius (the legs), April 22-23.
Here are a few general tips for activities other than planting that are best suited when the light moon is in force, which is through Monday:
>If you have gravel to pour on a drive or roadway, get that down before Tuesday or wait until April 29 through May 13 so the gravel won’t sink. Same applies for stones on a garden path: Place them when the moon is in the light phase so they don’t sink.
>If you’re setting fence posts, do that in the light of the moon so the posts don’t sink. A reader called the other day and he said he’d always heard set posts in the dark of the moon. Personally, I’ve had better luck with setting them in the light moon so you’ll just need to be the judge on that.
And here are activities best suited for when the dark moon rules, which is most of April 15 through April 29:
>Make changes April 18-25 when the dark moon is in force and the signs are moving out of the body past anything that functions, namely thighs through feet or Sagittarius through Pisces. These might include starting a diet or exercise program, stopping smoking, weaning small animals or children — anything that requires making a change.
What to plant now
Here are veggies you can safely plant now if — and only if — your ground is dry.
According to Home Gardening in Kentucky you can plant: asparagus, Bibb lettuce plants, beets, cabbage, carrots, chard, collards, head lettuce, kale, kohlrabi, leaf lettuce, onion sets and seeds, onion plants, parsley, parsnips, Irish potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, rutabaga, snow peas, spinach and turnips.
The book says sweet corn after April 20 and bush beans April 25. I wouldn’t because neither is frost resistant but I’m just telling you what the book says. Also, event if the ground is dry the soil temperature is still cool and both corn and beans like it hot!
Everything else in the garden can’t be planted until May when the danger of frost is over — hopefully.
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