Planting Potatoes: Dark of the Moon, Good Friday or St. Patrick’s Day?

Potatoes purchased at the store are no comparison to a freshly dug one from your own garden plot. But in order to dig in July you have to plant in the spring. But when?

The old wives’ tale says to plant potatoes on Good Friday. Without knowing who these old wives are it is hard to know why they picked this date. Easter is the first Sunday following the full moon after the Spring equinox. Being thus calculated, the date of Good Friday also changes from year to year. The date may vary by four weeks. It is near spring though, so maybe that is why someone picked Good Friday as potato planting day.

Others (such as university extension offices) are teaching to plant potatoes on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. This is at least a stable date but does not account for the fluctuations in temperature, moisture, etc. There are years when you just can’t get into the garden due to mud in mid-March.

And then there is planting by the moon signs. This indicator is to plant potatoes in the dark of the moon. Any crop that is underground is to be planted when the moon is waning. Above ground crops, for example corn and beans are planted in the light of the moon/when it is waxing.

What about planting each year as the weather dictates? When the soil has warmed and dried enough, the days are starting to warm, nights are still cool. This is the time to plant potatoes.

Consider the last freeze date for your location. Here at Five Feline Farm that is around April 15. Potatoes are a half hardy crop which means they can tolerate some cold but should not be subjected to prolonged freezing temperatures.

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So we are about 3 weeks from the last freeze date. As an experiment, one row of potatoes has been planted. The rest of the seed potatoes are ready to plant and waiting for the last forecasted cold spell to pass. At potato harvest, we’ll report on which ones produced best.

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