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You “May” be Surprised by When to Plant this May

Hey folks, May can be interesting each year. We often get summer-like temperatures day and night, and this can fuel one’s temptation to start or rush the gardening and planting season. It doesn’t help since the box stores stock their gardening racks with truckloads of colorful flowers and vegetable plants four to six weeks early. Some local greenhouses, not wanting to lose sales to the box stores and not wanting to compete for their market share, join in. This marketing model hurts because the consumer buys on emotion while there is a selection, and it’s too early to plant the most tender flowers and vegetable plants. As a farmer and a grower, we should help educate our customers about – who, what, where, when, and why.

Planning and record keeping of the sowing, planting, and gardening conditions each year is a big help. Understanding frost dates, seeds starting indoors and outdoors, and planting dates can increase the chances of a successful garden season. The 170-day growing season is just an average to follow based on averages of the past years. The opportunity of frosts is always a threat and a concern, along with cold spring rains that can drop important soil temperatures. Cold, damp soils can hamper most gardening flowers and vegetable plants. Another mistake is forgetting to fertilize your garden and flower beds for the growing season. I like to use our poultry manure and suggest that even mushroom manure helps the soil. Getting a Penn State soil testing kit can tell you what your soil lacks or needs for the growing season.

The May 5 full moon is called the "flower moon," so if you venture outdoors on the nights of May 4, 5, and 6, if the night sky is clear, you can get the best view of the bright full flower moon. Our area's May 2023 long-range weather forecast starts May 1-10 with rainy periods and cooler. May 11-15, sunny and warmer, and May 16-25 showers, then sunny and warmer, May 26-31, a few showers and cooler.

May's "Three Icemen Days" are May 11-13 and are long associated with weather and planting. My Grandpa Eichner was born and raised on their family's dairy farm in the Bavarian part of Germany. The Icemen Days were always observed in their farming and growing decisions yearly. It has been passed down to my dad and me. As a fourth-generation farmer, this is being shared with our fifth and sixth-generation family members because these three days have stood the test of time.

I get a question each year: "What is planting by the moon?" It is a traditional way to plant above and below-ground crops throughout the growing season. Plant annual flowers and vegetables that bear crops above ground during the moon's light. In other words, plant from the first day of the new moon until its full moon. Plant flower bulbs, bi-annuals, perennials, flowers, and vegetables that bear crops below ground during the moon's dark side. In other words, plant from the day after the full moon until the day before it is new again. I was told that many farmers and ranchers wouldn't put fence posts in the ground on the upside of the moon because it was said the fence posts wouldn't stay firm in the ground.

For decades and generations, the rule of thumb has been to always plant tender flowers and vegetables around Memorial Day weekend. Usually, all the silly weather is done around Memorial Day, a national holiday observed on the last day, Monday of May. It was formerly known as Decoration Day and is a day to honor all the men and women who have died in military service for the United States for centuries. Remembering all of the service members and their sacrifices have been to protect our God-given rights that ensure our constitutional freedoms.

We must remember mom and Mother's Day; it falls on May 14 this year. It is a day to honor our mothers and never lose sight of the roles of all of our moms—also, respect, honor, and love towards mothers and the vital role of mothers in our society. Treating mothers to a favorite restaurant is an easy choice. Colorful hanging baskets are a greenhouse item for mom. For hard-to-buy moms, a gift certificate is nice.

Remember, our family farm market and greenhouses can help with a large selection of colorful hanging baskets and farm gift certificates. If an old fashion breakfast is a thought, our farm-fresh eggs, sliced slab, and Canadian bacons, super lean sausages are a hit. Diane's homemade cookies by the dozen are delicious.

Our family farm members want to wish all our customers, friends, and folks a happy, blessed Mother's Day. Feel free to stop by Eichner's Whole Farm and Greenhouses at 285 Richard Road, Wexford, and get "the rest of the story."

By Ron Eichner


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