Who else had parents wake them overnight on July 20, 1969, to get up and sit sleepy-eyed and wondering what the big deal was? I remember sitting on the stairs in view on our black and white television in the living room. Dad and Mom seemed excited. I don’t recall how my two younger brothers felt.
But as for me, I thought the idea of getting up after I’d fallen asleep to watch some astronaut walk on the moon a bit over-dramatized. At nine years old, I was only interested in playing house and taking our cat for walks in my baby carriage. I let the space stuff to others. Even today, my interest in space lies in whether or not I’ll get to see the full moon this month and for the day I’ll share a moonlit walk with our grandchildren.
However, there was one time, over 25 years ago, I learned an important lesson concerning the moon. It happened the year I planted potatoes for the first time in my life.
During my childhood, my parents put in a small garden every year. They always planted the same plants. My dad planted his spring onions as soon as the ground warmed enough. Next came the sugar peas and radishes. Then, carrots (which never amounted to much), green beans (which amounted to too much), and cucumbers (which amounted to more than all the others put together). They also planted marigolds as a border to ward off the rabbits. (Disclosure: don’t bother. The rabbits ate them!) And finally, they added tomato plants: red, yellow, and cherry.
What does this have to do with the moon? Well, the year I had my first large garden as a married woman with a young family to teach about gardening and canning, I decided to try a few new varieties of plants. Since our plot was much bigger, I planted mounds of melons, rows of sweet corn, and a section of … potatoes.
I’d let a bag of potatoes sit until they sprouted, cut each individual eye apart from the others, and planted them at one end of my garden. I watered and weeded and watched my garden, being especially vigilant of my potato bed. The spring onions tasted wonderful slathered with butter; the cucumbers did the usual never-ending growing season; and the corn … well, the corn fed the deer.
But the potatoes … oh, the potatoes! I never saw more luscious, vibrant plants. From the moment they broke through the soil, the leaves turned a deep forest green, and as they grew, they took on the look of mini-landscaping bushes. I was proud and excited, imagining the harvest of potatoes from such amazing plants.
When the time came, I grabbed my gloves, a dull spade (so as to not cut into any of my robust potatoes), and an extra-large tub to put all the spuds in. I began digging carefully, an inch at a time. One inch, two inches, three … hmm, no potatoes yet. After digging quite a few inches, I hit pay-dirt. My first potato! I didn’t care that it was only the size of a quarter in diameter. I’d grown a potato!
However, that elation deflated after digging many inches under ALL the plants and having only a literal handful of itty-bitty potatoes. I could not understand it. Those gorgeous specimens of plants produced only this pitiful harvest? Why?
That’s exactly what I asked my grandparents when I next saw them, the ones who had plentiful harvests from gardens grown in the postage-stamp backyards of inner-city Harrisburg, PA.
Get ready for it … because their answer is why this blog post is about the moon. According to my grandparents (and The Farmer’s Almanac and a few scientific websites), if you want a high harvest from root vegetables, they should be planted on the “down-side of the moon,” as they called it. And if the veggies grow above ground, then plant them on the “up-side.” When looking to verify what seemed to me an “old wives’ tale,” even though I trusted my grandparents’ wisdom, I discovered the “down-side” means when the moon is waning (going from full to a new moon), and the “up-side” is when it’s waxing from new to full. Down to grow down, up to grow up!
Look it up for yourselves! Think about the tides in reference to the waxing and waning moons, as well as a host of other physical and psychological issues. It makes sense. I never had the chance to test my grandparents’ advice, though; so, if you’ve never planted your potatoes according to the moon and try it for yourselves this year (though it’s a tad late for many areas), and you grow potatoes so large that one will feed a family of four, PLEASE let me know! Thanks! Happy gardening!
Time for your moon stories … at least the ones you can share on a Rated “G” blog! And in case you didn’t know, the next full moon isn’t until July 5th.
4 thoughts on “Tell Me a Story about … the Moon!”
I don’t have a comment on the moon, but on potatoes. My dad was a big gardener, he had one so big I had to help take care of it. If you know me the only thing I like out of the garden was potatoes and corn. My dad garden seldom had weeds, and was always planted in strait rows. My dad’s garden was so well know in the area that people would stop just to look at his garden and especially his potatoes. One year he had potatoes so big one would feed the family and they were not hollow. So, I remember potatoes and as far as I know he planted them when he had the time, not by the moon. 🙂
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Well, maybe his “time” and the moon phase just happened to coincide. LOL! Thank you for sharing, Frank. I love hearing about your family. (And yes, I know you and green veggies! Ha-ha!)
Thank you for sharing your moon-potato story, how interesting! I have always maintained the the moon affects a lot of things, and even though that is documented, people still look at me like I’m a new-agey, bohemium oddity with a few screws loose, as if I’m talking about witch’s brew or a magical spell! I get headaches around the full moon. When I say that and someone gives me that look like, oh come on, I explain — just think about the tides. The moon affects the ocean, why could it not affect the human body? We know that the crime rate goes up around a full moon. In many of my jobs, we all noticed how a lot of crazy things happened on a full moon — angry clients, extreme energy going on and people talking a blue streak. People were more stressed during a full moon. I don’t know all the scientific explanations, only that it has to do with the moon’s gravitational pull. That seems odd to me since there’s so little gravity on the moon, the astronauts just float and bounce along the surface and have to wear heavily weighted boots to keep from flinging off into outer space! How could it pull the ocean, or on my head, or make people stressed and act crazy? Well that’d be a study in itself. But how interesting about the potatoes. I totally can believe that about the correct planting time, though I don’t understand, again, the mechanics of it or the reason.
My favorite moon story, though, is when I took a trip out to Colorado with one of my sons. Every night I’d call home to talk to my other kids and husband. I’d tell them to go outside and look up at the moon. I would do the same along with the son who was with me. We were all looking at the same moon even though we were 1200 miles away from each other. That was special. John Denver has some lyrics that say the same thing in the song Shanghai Breezes where it goes “And the moon and the stars are the same ones we see; it’s the same old sun up in the sky..”. He told a story about writing that song when he really was in Shanghai and was missing his wife, all the way back home in Colorado, but when he thought about how they both could see the same moon, stars, and sun, even though so far apart, it made them seem closer and that was a comfort.
Oh yes, and our Kitty, the one we had for 20 years who just went to heaven 6 weeks ago, his actual name was Moonlight. We never really called him that and just called him Kitty all the time or Mr. Kitty. But his “legal” name was Moonlight. He wore a beautiful black, gray, and silvery striped coat which looked like a moonlit sky to me.
How timely that you write about potatoes, too, since my task today was to find a way to cook up the 3 bags of potatoes I have here, before they go bad. It was going to be potato soup, until I saw I was low on milk. So potato salad will be my mission before the days is out. It won’t use up all my potatoes but it is a start!
Moonlight and potatoes. Sounds like a good book title!
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Ooo … I was going to thank you for sharing and talk about that, but first, I LOVE THAT TITLE FOR A BOOK!!! I think I may have to use it … unless you plan to!
Now … thanks for sharing all the stories you do. I love hearing about your sons and the trips you take. How fascinating! We’ve done local field trips and two longer ones (to Dinosaurland in VA and the American Girl Place in Chicago, oh, and one other to Holland, MI, to see my pen-pal, but that’s it. And those were spread out over 30 years. When our girls went to girls’ camp every summer, I would look at their daily schedule when we dropped them off, and we’d set up a time, like 7 a.m., that they’d know I was praying for them at that time every day. A special memory you brought back. Thank you.
And thanks for reminding me that I know why I had headaches last week! LOL!