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planting moon

The moon over Montana will be full on Thursday, March 7th.

Bob Cannard, my organic gardening mentor encouraged us to plant on every full moon. He did not touch on whether or not he believed it cosmically favored the plants themselves. His expressed reasoning was that it organized us to do regular plantings whether that was seeds, starts, bare-root, or transplants.

Get something started every full moon and you will always have a good garden.

From long before there were computers, televisions and electric lights, people on nature-driven cycles have called the first full moon of May, “The Planting Moon”. Whereas in some environments planting and growing year-round is possible, here our growing season is short, but its days are long. Wait much later and the autumn frosts will hit before your harvest does.

But we sometimes have frosts in June.
Dad always planted on Memorial Day.
I remember the year snow killed my strawberries in June.

There are two answers to that. One is that the risk of loss is small while the benefits of harvest are large. No guts, no glory. No pain, no gain. No plants, no food. The other answer is to have tents, teepees, water walls, or other frost protection ready to go when frost threatens to set you back.

Having just arrived in Idaho from the perfect growing environment of Sonoma County, I was planting when nature suggested spring, but the grizzled local native from across the street warned me about planting my garden so early… “never before June”, said the wise old gardener.

I responded that I was willing to risk twenty bucks worth of starts on an earlier harvest (in 2001 dollars). That year I was harvesting while Fred was planting. The next year we did our spring planting together.

Bob taught us, “Pay attention to nature. She will tell you what to do.” Around here, the geese, ducks, robins and other budgies are back. Trees have all budded out. Grasses are up. Snow is gone from the valleys. Rivers are rising. My hens are getting broody and roosters eager to fertilize. The cows have their calves. Insects are buzzing about. The yard maintenance contractors have removed their snowplows and are now dragging trailers full of mowers, tillers, mulchers and such around the valley.

If you look around, nature in The Bitterroot is waking up.

Time for gardeners to get a move on.