Planting by the signs

I’m altering my winter forecast for a couple of reasons to say I think it will be worse than I originally anticipated. One reason is personal — the other involves squirrels and hedgeapples.

First, the personal one. I think it will be worse because I’m eating more! I just can’t seem to get full, yet my weight is staying the same. No matter how sophisticated we humans may think we are, at the base we’re still organisms striving to survive, and our internal wiring tells us things we don’t pay much attention to anymore.

And, I think my eat meter is telling me the weather is going to be bad and there might be food shortages, so I need to be prepared with an extra layer of fluffy!

Second, same for the squirrels. Of the hedgeapples in the front yard, as my late grandfather used to say, they’re disappearing like “snow in the spring.” At any time of the day a squirrel or several can be found in or around the hedgeapple pile — or above it in a tree — gnawing away at a hedgeapple that’s nearly his or her size.

Last year the hedgeapples were nearly gone by Christmas. I think it may be sooner than that this year.

Oh, neighbors, please prepare yourself!

Cleaning gardening tools

I read a column by fellow gardening writer Janeen Wiche about taking some time here in the off season to clean and inventory your garden tools. I won’t go into all the specifics other than to say it’s an excellent time to repair or replace broken tools and determine what you might need for the 2020 season that’s fast approaching.

Of course, if you’re into small gardening all you may need to check is the condition of your small hand shovel.

If you’re like me, when the season ended you pitched the hoe, etc., in the shed or corner of the garage and likely didn’t even winterize the roto-tiller. You don’t want to regret either of those decisions in the spring when residual dirt has resulted in rust on the hoe or gas in the tiller has turned to kerosene.

Quick reminders

Ember Days: The last series of Ember Days is next week, specifically Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. No planting on any of these days.

Winter solstice: Winter begins at 11:19 p.m. next Saturday, Dec. 21, which is also an Ember Day and the shortest day of the year. Slowly but surely, we’ll have more daylight each day until we reach the zenith of that cycle sometime during the third week of June.

Making changes: Remember, if you have changes to make and you’re really serious about it then we finally have two perfect days, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I say “serious” because that’s what it will take to start making changes when food abounds since if the change you plan to make is starting a diet!

The moon is in the dark phase before moving to the light phase on Dec. 26 and the signs are going out of the body beyond anything that functions. Sagittarius (the thighs) rules on Dec. 24 followed by Capricorn (the knees) on Christmas Day.

The alternative: The change-making days I’ve been recommending during this long stretch with no perfect days follow on Dec. 26 through the end of the year. The Capricorn/knees days continue Dec. 26-27 followed by two days ruled by Aquarius/legs. The month — and year — end with the very fertile sign Pisces (the feet) in force Dec. 30-31.

These signs are all going out of the body beyond anything that functions even though the light moon is in force. At least half the formula is correct!

Gifts for the gardner: I don’t need to remind you that the season of giving is upon us. A couple of weeks back we mentioned gifts for the gardeners in your family — you, or course, being at the top of the list!

In my opinion there are gifts that are sentimental and then there are gifts that reflect sentimentality with purpose. Gifts for the gardener fall into that last category.

Pouring gravel: If you have gravel to pour on a drive or road on your farm, you’ll need to wait now until after Christmas when the moon returns to the light phase on Dec. 26, continuing through Jan. 9. 

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.

I mention this each week since this is one of the most often-asked questions I have.

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