Planting by the signs

The rest of July

The final week of July and on into August offers a variety of signs and planting options. Let’s look at that and then move on to some consideration of fall gardens.

A five-day stretch ruled by the flowering signs began Wednesday and continues. Libra (the reins) rules today (Friday) through Sunday with Virgo (the bowels) having kicked things off on Wednesday and Thursday.

As we all know by now, these are “bloom days” and the focus is on flowers. I’ve regaled you with stories of gardeners who — hopefully inadvertently — planted veggies when flowering signs ruled. Typically, they are rewarded with magnificent foliage and a plethora of blooms but, alas, not much produce.

In short — don’t plant vegetables on flowering days.

If you can wait until Monday and Tuesday, we’ll be blessed with two great planting days for above-ground producers that aren’t on the “too late list” for unprotected gardens (found elsewhere here). The moon is in the light phase and Scorpio (the secrets), one of the most fertile signs, is in force.

Please check the list that provides us information on what, statistically speaking, doesn’t have much chance to make it to harvest before the days and the soil start to cool and Ol’ Jack Frost arrives. I know that’s hard to believe as hot as it’s been, but for sure it will happen, and you don’t want to waste time and effort planting veggies that aren’t likely to make it to harvest — unless you just like watching them grow.

July wraps up and August begins with the so-so signs in force and the light moon ruling Wednesday through half of Aug. 3. We have two days each of Sagittarius (thighs), Capricorn (knees) and Aquarius (legs). In my opinion these are the best days for planting after the four fertile signs. All but the last half of Aug. 3 will be under the influence of the light moon for above-ground producers.

Then we’ll have three days, Aug. 4-6, with Pisces (the feet) in force for below-ground producers.

MAKING CHANGES: If you have changes to make, Aug. 4-6 are the best days ahead. But more about that next week.

Last planting of beans

According to the planting chart in "Home Vegetable Gardening" in Kentucky, Saturday is the last day we should be planting bush (snap) beans in our part of the state. Since that’s a flowering day and you don’t want just lovely blossoms but the beans, I’d hold off a couple of days and plant them Monday or Tuesday.

The moon is in the light phase and the fertile sign Scorpio is in force on those days. If the beans perform as expected, first harvest from that planting should occur around the third week of September and that is several weeks in advance of the statistical first date for frost.

Veggies it’s too late to plant (from the chart): Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, chard, head lettuce, okra, lima beans, celery, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant, muskmelons, onion plants and seed, parsley, parsnips, pepper plants, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, southern peas, tomato plants, watermelons, winter squash and rutabaga.

The fall garden

The gardening season doesn’t have to end when you pick the last tomato or the last bunch of beans. Sure, there are some things — lots of them in fact — that don’t do well as the air and soil temperatures continue to cool with the shortening of the days, but there are plenty that do.

Fall gardens are much like early gardens in the spring when we plant the cool-weather loving veggies. The list here details all those veggies we can’t statistically expect to make it to harvest in an unprotected garden.

You need do decide if a fall garden is something you’re interested in doing or if it’s fine for the frost to just take what’s left when that time comes. Next week, we’ll talk about some methods to extend the season into the late fall, even the winter.

I’ll be calling on Wes Henry, my PBTS partner, for a guest column on late gardens. Wes is a specialist at extending the gardening season almost all year!

Pouring gravel: Through Aug. 2 are ideal days while the new moon is in force. The 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 phase of the moon so the posts don’t sink.

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