From the May/June '10 issue of The Essential Herbal Magazine
Sugar Grove Herbs
As I sit here looking out the window at the freshly fallen snow, drinking a nice warm cup of tea, I can’t help but wonder how much longer I have to wait before I can get out and start digging in the garden. What new plants should I get, what color scheme will I choose, and don’t forget I need to add something novel. The thoughts and visions of my favorite flowers bring back memories of my grandmother and the superstitions she had when planting her garden. First thing on the list was to plant cabbage on the seventeenth of March. This would help insure that large heads of cabbage would soon be growing. Everyone has probably heard that parsley should be planted on “Good Friday” because it goes to the devil nine times and back before it grows and you never transplant parsley or you’re sure to have bad luck. Don’t forget you need a good Farmer’s Almanac to insure your plants go into the ground on the best possible day. I started thinking, what other superstitions are there, and so began a search of my books and the internet because I want to make sure that I have the best looking garden in town.
Did you know that cucumbers must be planted in the morning, before sunrise, otherwise they will be destroyed by bugs, and while preparing your garden never hang your hoe from a tree branch or you’re sure to have bad luck? However planting angelica, snapdragons and chamomile will protect you from spells or any curses. According to Dennis Boyer in his book “Once upon a Hex” it’s important to stick to a schedule when it comes to scarecrows. Never put it out before Easter or up on May Day. The head must always point towards heaven and be covered with a hat. Put it in the shade on the longest day, give it a glass of water if it’s dry, and place it in the smokehouse if it’s too wet. The most important thing to remember is to remove it and burn everything before midnight on Halloween. Not one piece of clothing should ever be worn by another person again or it will result in terrible consequences.
If you watch certain flowers in your garden and around the yard you will always know the time. Dandelions open between 7:00 & 8:00 a.m., California poppies open between 10:00 & 11:00 a.m., Four o’clocks open at guess what 4:00 p.m., Evening primroses and moonflowers will open at 6:00 p.m. and Daylilies and Dandelions close at 9:00 p.m. this would be the perfect time to sit and relax around the camp fire, enjoying the fruits of your labor?
You’ve worked hard and the garden is in great shape, what better time to plan a party to show off the garden and all of its beauty. However do NOT mention the date of the visit aloud. If you do, the roses and daylilies will hear your plans and stubbornly bloom the day before and the day after but will not bloom the day of the party.
Remember while working in the garden, you don’t want to pick any foxglove flowers because it will offend the garden fairies and that is something you want to avoid. They will play tricks on you like leading rabbits to your garden to eat your precious plants or moving plants around in the garden and then watch as you look at where you thought you planted them and laugh when you find them planted somewhere else. Gnomes and gazing balls on the other hand are still very popular in today’s garden but did you know they have great powers? Simply keep the gazing balls well polished so they can reflect the sun’s rays into the face of evil spirits keeping them away. The gnomes need a little more care to keep them happy. Feed them some gruel or pudding and put out a saucer of milk daily and they will repay you with good plant growth, added household security and may even do a few household chores. That alone is worth a little milk for me! But beware if you fail they will become very mischievous and things around the garden and house will turn up missing.
Then there are the weather predictors such as weather sticks. Weather sticks are made of Balsam Fir and tell us what the weather is doing. With good weather about they point to the sky and when things aren't so pleasant they point to the ground. When you see a rainbow in the east – tomorrow will be fine, but if you see a rainbow in the west - tomorrow will bring rain. If you are experiencing a dry spell and the gardens need some rain just find some ants and stomp on them, of course if you find them and they seem very agitated don’t bother because bad weather is on the way.
Frost is the one thing we all know that is harmful to our garden and can destroy all our hard work in one night. You knew frost was coming in about 6 weeks if the katydids start to sing or if the fawns lose their spots and the first time you see a Walking Stick, so get busy and start harvesting all of your crops and prepare for the winter that will soon come.
One last tip, while working in the garden if you catch a falling leaf on the first day of autumn you will not catch a cold in the coming winter. Are all these things true? I don’t know but I’m not taking any chances so I’ll stay on the good side of the fairies, feed the gnomes some milk and be sure to catch a leaf. Happy Gardening!