Were the old wives telling tales?
If you want to know when to sow, take your trousers off and sit on the ground!
This is my favorite old wives tale, and another one that is senseless at first sight. All it meant, in days before we acquired sophisticated means for measuring soil temperature, was that feeling the bare soil with one’s tender flesh was a good if uncomfortable way of finding out if it was warm enough to start the spring planting. By late Victorian times, this was thought of as not nice at all. No doubt visitors to the local great estate were disconcerted by the sight of under gardeners sitting bare bottomed in the kitchen garden sprouting nothing but a quizzical look upon their weathered faces. So p.c. version of the folk lore was hastily invented and it became permissible indeed expected that the temperature of the soil could be judged using your elbow. In today’s permissive climate, I would not dram of =recommending which way is right for you.
This concern with the effects of climate reminds us how important weather was to olden day gardeners. There is much folklore, all of it gloomy about the weather. For example, if the eighth of June it rain, that foretell a wet harvest. Not exactly a bundle of optimism
Oak before ash, we’re in for a splash. Ash before oak we’re in for a soak.
Or to put it anther way which ever tree comes into leaf first you’re going to get wet. If the first of July be rainy weather, it will rain for four week together and if you escape July 1st, the July 15th lay in wait St. Swithin’s Day if thou dost rain, for forty days it will remain, in other words until August 24th. But lo and behold. Modern meteorologist studying weather history have found that there is truth in the saying. The weather of mid Jul sets a pattern that does indeed last until about August 24th. So very interesting, and when those dates come around this summer, I will long forget what they mean. Let us know of any more old wives’ tales to share about gardening and there is lots about weather.
Taken from Tips from the Old gardeners complied by Duncan Crosbie
Till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky’s Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa beckmall@ netins.net 641-794-3337 cell phone 641-903-9365