Saturday, January 15, 2011

Different Zodiac Signs? How does that affect our gardens?

I love reading my horoscope every day and I have to tell you, they are usually spot on. So when I saw the reports that announced that because of something to do with astrology, our zodiac signs are all messed up, I didn’t really pay much attention. In case you are interested, here is a link about how the whole thing got started: Astrology Story Soars Like a Comet

But then I started thinking, hey, maybe all of that astrological misalignment is why my garden doesn’t always do what I think it should, when it should.

In case you have missed the reports, our zodiac signs have to do with which constellation the sun rises in at the time we were born. But because the earth has “wobbled” on its axis over the last 2000 years, the sun rises in a different constellation than it did back when astrology and zodiac signs were conceived. So our astrological signs are all off by about one sign. Here’s a brief explanation by Bill Nye the Science Guy that I found on

But what does all of that have to do with gardening? Well, along with all of the other things that the zodiac signs are supposed to influence, many people believe that planting by the signs of the zodiac can affect your garden.

Here is some information I found on Gardening by the Moon:

The fertile water signs are Cancer, Pisces, and Scorpio, and are best for planting above ground, leafy annuals. Air signs work well for some plants, but are generally barren and dry. Libra is an exception to that rule, and is semi-fertile and good for blooming flowers and herbs. Flowers are the part of the plant associated with air signs. Melons like Gemini, and onions respond well in Aquarius. When the Moon is in an air sign it is a good time to harvest and cultivate. 

The fire signs of Aries, Leo and Sagittarius are very barren and dry, but may be used for crops grown for their seed. Because it is barren, Leo is a good sign for weeding and cultivation, so seeds won't sprout. It is also good to harvest during a fire sign.

So, now that we know the astrological signs are wrong, how does that affect our gardening schedule? Are the periods which we considered fertile times no longer fertile? Are the barren times we have always associated with Leo no longer barren? And what the heck are we supposed to do with the new astrological sign, Ophiuchus? Sow, reap, weed or cultivate?

To find the answer, I consulted what most gardeners consider the ultimate source for when and where and what in the garden, The Farmer’s Almanac. I found this blog post by Jaime McLeod, entitled Is Your Sign Wrong that seems to indicate that, since most gardening lore has to do with the moon rather than the sun, as far as our gardens go (and grow) things haven’t changed.

Astronomy is the scientific interpretation of matter in space. Astronomers don’t try to interpret the meaning of the Moon or Sun’s position in the sky, only to describe it as accurately as possible.” 

Astrologers simply sliced the sky up into 12 equal sections, each of which was named after the most prominent constellation in that slice. As you can see from the timeline above, the astronomical position of the Moon can’t really be sliced up evenly. The Moon rests in each constellation anywhere from a few days (Scorpio) to a month and a half (Virgo).

Thankfully, its winter and most of us aren’t out gardening right now anyway. I’m sure the scientists will get everything figured out for us before we pick up our trowels in the Spring.

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