Monday, August 3, 2009

Gardening Folk Customs

Since harvesting, gardening and preserving the bounty of fruits and vegetables seems to be the topic of the day, I thought I'd post some rather obscure (at least to me) gardening folklore. These beliefs were collected from throughout Appalachia, and while I have heard of some of them, believe a few of them, and even swear by a couple of them--by and large, I had not heard of most of these before.

I have previously posted similar folklore items and the readers of this blog seem to enjoy them, so I thought I'd give it another try.

Here's the list. Do you know of any other folk beliefs pertaining to gardening?

Eat sugar before planting fruit trees to make the fruit sweeter.

Apples with red spots inside means that the tree's root grew into the body of a murdered person.

Drive a rusty nail on the north side of the tree for better yields.

The number of seeds in an apple will be your lucky number.

Whip a poor yielding tree and it will bear better the next year.

Plowing on Good Friday will cause the ground to bleed.

Seeds planted on St. Patrick's Day grow better.

Gardens do better if seeds are planted on even-numbered days of the month.

Don't thank a person who gives you seeds or roots, or the plants will never grow.

Plant potatoes at night so the eyes don't see light.

If you laugh while planting corn, the kernels will have big gaps in them.

Planting peppers when you are mad makes the peppers grow hotter.

If a red-headed person plants peppers, they will be hotter than normal.

For a good crop of watermelons, crawl to the patch backwards on the first day of May.

Put a four-leaf clover in your shoe and make a wish. When you lose the clover, your wish will come true.

A five-leaf clover brings bad luck.

Grass won't grow where human blood has been spilled.

Catch a thistle seed, then blow it into the air. If it doesn't hit the ground before it gets out of sight, your wish will come true, but only if you don't tell anyone the wish.

Crushing rosemary into a glass of wine will boost mental powers.

Make a wish on a load of hay, but don't look until the load is out of sight, and the wish will come true.

Flowers which bloom out of season are evil.

Dreaming of thorns is bad luck.

Bury a hickory stick in a moist place, and it will turn to stone in seven years.

Weeping willows will bring the planter bad luck.

Conduct most of your garden chores during the waxing of the moon. Light nights make light crops: never plant when the moon is full.

All above-ground crops should be planted with the new moon.

Root crops should be planted during the last two days of a full moon.

If you burn potato peelings, your crop won't grow the next year.

Root crops should be planted under the sign of Taurus for quicker growth.

Seeds planted under Virgo will result in many leaves but not much fruit.

Sweet potatoes dug on a dark night will be sweeter and keep better.

It's bad luck to burn wood from a tree struck by lightning.

Planting on Friday is bad luck, unless the zodiac sign is right.

Tomatoes should be planted on Memorial Day.

Friday is a good day to plant crops which dangle from branches because Friday is hangman's day.

Don't plant seeds until after the apple trees bloom.

It's good luck to steal herbs.

Tobacco grows well if planted under the sign of Cancer.

Never plant under a north wind. Trees blossoming twice in a year brings bad luck.

When cutting wood, spit in your palms for good luck.

A snowy winter portends a good year for crops.

A saying for planting tobacco: "Some for you, some for I, some for the devil, some for the fly."

Hang a horseshoe in a fruit tree for a heavy crop.

After planting a hill of beans, press the soil with your foot for better luck.

If you point your finger at a cucumber bloom, the bloom will fall off.

Beans planted on dark nights will grow the best crops.

Plant beans early in the morning if you want to have the crop come in earlier in the season.

For a better cabbage crop, sew the seeds in your bedclothes on March 17th.

Corn should be planted under the new moon so that most of the growing will be done at the tip.

Wood cut on light nights will burn hotter.

Grass seed won't freeze if planted when the moon points down.

Corn planted under the waning moon grows slower but produces larger ears.

If onion bulbs are planted upside down, they will come out in China.

To keep away crows, kill one and hang it from a garden pole.

Onions should be planted in the old of the moon.

Trees are best trimmed in the full moon of February or November.

Peas should be planted as near to twelve noon as possible.

Tie a piece of white string across the garden to keep birds away.

Cut briars and weeds when the moon is waning to kill them.

Plant flowers under Virgo for the best blooms.

Corn should be planted when the dogwoods are in bloom and the poplar leaves
are as big as squirrel ears.

Wheat always ripens in the light of the moon, not the dark.

To make hydrangeas blue, put rusty nails at the roots. Plant watermelons before breakfast for best results.

Cobs from seed corn should be placed in running water and not burned.

If two people's hoes hit together, they will work in the same field next year.


The Good Life in Virginia said...

i too...have heard of some of these before.
interesting assortment.

Vera said...

Well Matthew, You got me this time, I can't say that I have heard even one of them.
And I am an old country girl 71 years old, where have I been?

Matthew Burns said...

The funny part is yesterday I read this post over the phone to my mother, and when I got to the one where "Whip a poor yielding fruit tree and it will bear better the next year", and Mom piped up and said "That works!"

So I'd say it safe to say that these traditions are alive and well in some parts of the mountains.

Janet, said...

Matthew, you mean that you don't believe them all? :) These are pretty way out,I don't know if I've heard of any of them or not. I bet my grandma had, though.

Tipper said...

Neat-You know I loved this post! I haven't heard all of them-but many.

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