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That woman — and others Stevens knew — would plan their planting based on whether the moon was waxing or waning. Waxing moons were for above ground plants, while waning was for below ground planting.
While Stevens doesn’t follow those rules herself, she said they are part of a different kind of garden memorial.
“I was born and raised with it. When I give this presentation you can’t believe how many people say, ‘Oh yeah, I was raised on this,’” she said.
Many such stories were brought with immigrants when they moved to Iowa. Those from places like Germany and the Czech and Slovak lands came from a similar climate, and many of their planting folklore holds true here, Stevens said.
“The early gardeners watched the world around them to know what to plant and when to plant them,” she said.
She cites a Czech story of the three frost kings, who were frozen at sea until May 15, when Queen Sofia thawed them with a watering can. After that it is safe to plant tender seedlings outside.
Other indicators tell their own stories.
“When people call the Hortline (the gardening advice and help line manned by Master Gardeners) and ask when to put down crab grass killer, we tell them to wait until the forsythia blooms,” she said. “They bloom when the soil reaches a certain temperature. So spring is better predicted by plants than by man.”
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