Some gardening tips – or not?


Last week on a fine and sunny day the first of March rolled in, and this also happens to be the first day of meteorological spring. However, those of you who prefer to follow the astrological spring will have to wait another week or so until March 20. There are also some who think it doesn’t truly begin until they can tread on three daisies at one time on their lawn. Whatever you believe, spring is now upon us, and the time is here to get to grips with the veggie planting and seed sowing.

There are many traditional beliefs surrounding seed sowing. One such tip is not to plant seeds in the last three days of March as apparently these days are borrowed from April and are traditionally called ‘blind days’. When you do put them in the ground, many Victorian gardeners would advise that you spit into the drill before placing the seed. (Very time consuming I should think).

According to the Roman poet Virgil, it is advisable to plan our gardens around the moon’s cycle. He teaches that the full moon is the perfect time for sowing the seeds of brassicas, carrots, onions, parsnips and spinach. It is also ideal for planting potatoes and tomatoes, and the best time for harvesting fruit, herbs and vegetables.

I do try to follow planting rules, as they are often based on common sense, but sometimes they can be contradictory and a little confusing. Especially when it comes potatoes!

Getting your spuds in 

After checking the 2021 calendar, this means that I should ideally wait until March 28 (the worm moon) or, indeed April 27 (the pink moon) to get the spuds in the ground. But wait……. the Victorians say it is essential to plant on a stormy night, and definitely not on a Good Friday unless one lives in the Midlands – when it must be a Good Friday or “Spud Day”. Another tip to add to the confusion, “when you hear the cuckoo shout, ’tis time to plant your tatties out”.

So, if I can tally the storm with the moon, the shouting cuckoo,  and avoid Easter then I should be assured a good crop. I mustn’t forget to plant the onions as far away as possible as apparently “the onions will make the ‘taters cry”.

Oh, just one last tip that I may not follow, there is an ancient country practice involving the gardener removing their trousers and sitting on the ground to test the soil temperature. “If it’s too cold for naked flesh, it’s too cold for seeds.” I hope this last tip is helpful to the allotmenteers of Rye.

Extracted from a recent blog at

Chitting potatoes

Image Credits: Lorna Hall .

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  1. Love these pieces of advice on planting. Sow parsley on Mothering Sunday? There must be some truth in this wisdom except the weather is definitely changing and must be very different from the time these sayings were passed on.


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