According to folklore, there are a lot of rules gardeners need to follow. Whether it’s planting on Good Friday or waiting until after Three Ice Men have passed to get your seedlings in the ground, lore and tradition have a lot of advice to impart, and many swear by these tidbits passed down from our ancestors for a successful, prolific garden. One popular bit of planting wisdom suggests that you hold off doing any planting until Mother’s Day, known appropriately as “The Mother’s Day Rule.” What is it, and is there any truth to it?
What is the Mother’s Day Rule?
The premise is simple—Mother’s Day falls on the second Sunday in May which, for many, the threat of frost has passed and it’s considered safe to get your garden started. It’s a good rule of thumb because as we all know, while the calendar may say spring, it doesn’t mean we’ll have spring temperatures in March and April (especially for those of us in the Northeast). If your tender plants go in the ground too early, when temperatures are still in the 20s and 30s at night, you’re setting yourself up for disaster.
Of course, those who live in warmer, arid climates have their own set of rules for when to plant, and much depends on the plant itself and its hardiness.
Folklore aside, every successful gardener knows that understanding a plant’s hardiness (its ability to withstand cold conditions) is key. All plants have different levels of hardiness; some grow well in cold weather while others need the soil to be nice and cozy warm. Refer to the growing information on each seed packet (or greenhouse label) before getting started. Check the USDA’s Hardiness Zones map here.
So while the Mother’s Day Rule is a good one, it’s really more of a Mother’s Day “guideline.” We all know Mother Nature can be fickle, no matter what part of the country you live in, and it’s not unheard of to have a freak snowstorm as late as May. But for the most part, the second Sunday in May is a safe time, temperature-wise.
Gardening by the Moon
If you follow the rules for planting by the Moon (independent of weather conditions), you’ll want to check the Farmers’ Almanac’s Gardening by the Moon calendar, which provides the key dates for gardening chores and planting tasks based on phases of the Moon. Many people swear by this method as well. So with the guidance of the Farmers’ Almanac and a little bit of wisdom from the ages, here’s hoping your garden is abundant this year.
Do you follow the Mother’s Day Rule when it comes to your garden? Tell us in the comments below.
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