Planting “By The Signs”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere was a time not so many years ago where farmers did little without consulting the Almanac. The Old Farmer’s Almanac is still produced today – with the same information. The late Louise Riotte wrote several books on companion planting as well as the moon sign – available through Amazon, Storey Publishing and other outlets.

How much weight can be given to this? Is it something it takes extensive degrees to understand? Will it overcome odds? The idea has diehard followers – and people who believe it is the work of Satan. Each ‘sign’ is associated with prophecy, and therefore suspect. However, on the other hand, the Bible does refer to each season or time to do things. The use of common sense must be employed – planting under the right sign in freezing weather is not going to give you a bumper crop. If you don’t properly till the soil, water, weed and care for the garden the astrological sign is not going to matter.

However, I have done some experiments on my own with planting not only by the signs but “companion planting” – that is, planting plants that benefit each other (or harm each other) together or away from each other respectively. Several years, varied conditions and have found that in many cases, yes, planting in the right sign gives a little extra boost to the plants *providing* that other things are done. And it can be done without a major degree in agriculture. It IS something that takes more planning. If you have a little time, the right calendar and some luck, it can help you schedule your garden time. Again, though, you must use common sense. Tilling the garden in the right sign when there’s been torrential rains all night long is going to be less than enjoyable – or productive!

Most people are familiar with the astrological signs, perhaps less so with the properties attached to those signs. These are Earth (Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn), Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius), Fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius) and Water (Scorpio, Pisces, Cancer). Further they’re thought to be some barren signs, such as Aries and Leo, and some very fruitful, such as Cancer and Scorpio. Keeping this in mind along with the moon sign and moon phase. The moon sign usually has a page in the Old Farmer’s Almanac just for that information.

Several years ago in average soil, upgraded with a dose of manure from the hog pen, planted in signs of Scorpio and Cancer in the first or second quarter plants were put to a test – which resulted in abundant yields. Those planted in the wrong sign – from the same packet – were unthrifty and barely produced enough to have been worth the effort. One raised bed in particular, planted with basil and peppers, yielded enough to give away a considerable amount in addition to all we could use and preserve. There was an experiment planting vines – pumpkins – in Virgo, and as Ms. Riotte stated there was much flowers but not a great deal of fruit. However, one can use this…interplanting a few pumpkin plants with sweet corn. Vine growth is good because raccoons don’t like getting into an area they can’t quickly get out of – thus are deterred from raiding the corn crop before you’re ready to eat it yourself.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe also planted tomatoes, in another state, on a first time planting, and had enough for many gallons of salsa as well as fresh tomatoes. A birdhouse gourd plant fairly took over the one side of the back yard. This was in good soil, minimal manure or compost, tilled thoroughly.

In addition to planting, use the fire and air signs for weeding in the fourth quarter – this is said to discourage weed growth. Another general rundown:
Aries – barren and dry – use to destroy pests, cultivate, till.
Taurus – productive and moist – use for roots such as potato, carrots, being stored in the ground for the winter.
Gemini – barren and dry
Cancer – very fruitful, water sign – the most productive sign; use for planting and irrigating, grafting, transplanting.
Leo – barren and dry – the most barren sign – destroy weeds, unwanted trees and roots
Virgo – barren and moist.
Libra – semi-fruitful, moist – Virgo is the best sign for beautiful flowers.
Scorpio – second most fruitful sign – use Scorpio or Capricorn for dry garden sights
Sagittarius – generally bad for planting, but will work for root crops between the full moon and quarter, also good for planting fruit trees.
Capricorn – useful for root crops, good sign for organic fertilization
Aquarius – barren and dry, good for harvesting fruit and root crops, not for planting.
Pisces – very fruitful – believed to produce shortest top grown and strongest roots of any sign.

It must be pointed out this is a very general guide. Ms Riotte’s more extensive books – Astrological Gardening, Roses Love Garlic, Carrots Love Tomatoes and others have a great deal more information in detail. What I found is, with planning (often a good way to fill “anticipation” time when it’s still too early go plant) it’s easy to go through the Almanac, using a good calendar that marks the moon phases and easily note on the calendar your favorable dates for planting, weeding and watering. As it gets busy in the spring you have a time frame for doing certain chores. Again – if it rains all day you probably won’t be able to plant. But if you have a two day time frame and one afternoon is just before a rain is forecast – that would be a good time to plant. It narrows down chores and, further, if you have first and second choices noted, makes sure you have a time frame for getting things done.

Other ways to use the basics – if you’re planting flowers for potpourri, pruning trees or berry bushes, starting a compost pile or mowing the lawn. Mowing and drying hay is another task if you’re baling for winter livestock.

When you’re planning your garden chores for the year, consider scheduling using the Almanac and time as a tool.


Did you know? The signs focus on the ASTROLOGICAL signs each month, not the ASTRONOMY signs where each sign gets a month.

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