Here’s information for most of October on the phases of the moon and signs of the zodiac

Planting in the unprotected garden is over for 2017 with the average date for first frost approaching in mid-October.

You can still plant in hot beds or greenhouses that can be closed during cold snaps. Remember, “…gardening doesn’t have to end with the last planting of snap beans.”

       General Tips for dark- and light-moon activities are below and for veggies, it’s above-ground producers in the light moon and below-ground producers when the dark phase is in, preferably when fertile signs are in force.

The moon

      As has been the case for months now, October began and ends with the moon in the light phase. The light moon rules until the full moon appears at 2:40 p.m. Oct. 5 and then returns at 3:12 p.m. Oct. 19, continuing until the full moon on Nov. 4 at 1:23 a.m.

      Without dealing in fractions of days, the dark moon rules Oct. 6 through Oct. 18. You can check the exact hours of the moon changes above.

The signs

     Remember: Check to see if the moon is in the light or dark phase (information above) before proceeding with protected planting or other activities. No planting now in the unprotected garden. You will be wasting seed, money – and your precious time!

      Like August and September, October begins with a so-so sign – but just on the first day. The complete series comes later in the month. That said, let’s knock out the so-so signs first.

     So-so days: These aren’t particularly fertile nor destructive, just so-so. They appear in this order in October: Aquarius (the legs), Oct. 1, 27-28; Sagittarius (the thighs), Oct. 22-23; and Capricorn (the knees), Oct. 24-26. There are eight days in October ruled by the so-so signs, all are under the influence of the light moon.

        Fertile days: These are the most fertile signs in the zodiac. Here’s the breakdown as they occur this month and the phase of the moon in which they are in force.

          Pisces (the feet), Oct. 2-3 29-31, all under the light moon. I don’t recall ever having seen five Pisces days in a month! Taurus (the neck) rules Oct. 6-7, dark moon; Cancer (the breast) Oct. 10-12, dark phase; and Scorpio (the secrets), Oct. 19-21, light moon ruling.

          Just unbelievable! I wish this would happen in May when we are planting: there are 13 days this month ruled by the most fertile signs: Scorpio, Pisces, Taurus and Cancer. That’s nearly half the month!!!

     Killing signs: No planting, transplanting, or dealing with things you want to thrive should occur on these days. Reserve them for cultivating, cleaning out fencerows, cleaning up your 2017 garden and putting it to bed (if you’re through harvesting late crops)— anything but planting: Aries (the head), Oct. 4-5; and Leo (the heart), Oct. 13-14. There are just four days this month ruled by the killing signs. I wish this sequence would repeat itself in May of 2018 too, our huge planting month for hot-weather crops!

      Gemini days: Gemini (the arms) rules Oct. 8-9. This is the best sign for planting beans, but the time for planting beans this year is gone. They can’t stand frost and cold weather – although as I write this the high is in the upper 80s and it’s HOT!                

      But we know it’s not about just when they were planted but when they will grow and be harvested. The quickest producing bush bean is about 50-60 days and, if we were extremely lucky, we could have a great crop for Thanksgiving dinner!

      I don’t plan to risk it. I have a nice row of beans up and blooming now and that will be plenty for this year.

     Flowering days: Time for those fall mums and here are the “bloom days” that are well suited for planting flowers. Here’s the breakdown: Virgo (the bowels), rules Oct. 15-16 and Libra (the reins) is up Oct. 17-18. There are four flowering days in October, the minimum.

October tips

      Here are a few general tips for activities other than planting:

      >Pouring gravel: If you have gravel to pour on a drive or roadway, do that when the light moon rules through Oct. 4 and then beginning after 1:30 a.m. Oct. 20 through Nov. 3. The same applies for stones on a garden path: Place them when the moon is in the light phase so they don’t sink.

      >If you’re setting fence posts, do that in the light of the moon so the posts don’t sink.

      >If you’re putting on a new shingle roof, do that when the moon’s in the dark phase so that the shingles stick down and don’t curl up on the ends.

      >Making changes: There are no perfect days this month for making changes when the moon is in the dark phase and sign is in Pisces (the feet).

      Like September, your other options then become going with half of the formula: either signs going out of the body beyond anything that functions or when the dark moon is in force.

      Details about both are above.

 ‘Closing’ your garden

Now that the gardening season is all but over, it’s time to “close” our gardens for their winter’s nap.

I’ve written about that earlier this year, but here’s a little review.

And, like most everything, there are good and bad ways to do that. Here’s a summary, from worst to best!

Do nothing, leave plants in the garden. This method is the easiest since you’re tired of fooling with it – but the best for bugs and diseases since they winter over in the plants and soil and are ready to go come spring.

Dead tomato plants, still tied to their stakes, make an attractive bit of garden art in the winter, looking like scarecrows whipping about in the wind. But that’s not what’s best for the garden.

Pull up plants, plow them under. While this sounds like good ecological stewardship, it won’t destroy all bugs and diseases. They simply “winter over” in the ground and come spring, while all certainly won’t survive, plenty will and they’ll rise from their slumber ready to do their thing in next summer’s garden!

While better than the first, here’s the best.

Remove plant material from the garden. Pull up the plants and dispose of them - out of the garden. If you decide to send them through a grinder, do it twice. Whatever you do, get the plants off the garden, pulled up by the roots, and lots of your potential problems go with them!

Then, just like a good farmer, plow or roto-till and plant a cover crop. This “cover” can consist of any good winter grass that returns nitrogen to the soil and can be plowed under in January or February. Turnips are good for a cover crop, too. Just sew the seed – and you’ll even get something to eat, too!

Be in touch

You may email me at pcase211@gmail.com; call or text 502-682-5995. My Facebook page that is devoted exclusively to planting by the phases and signs is PlantingByTheSigns.net and my Twitter handle is @plantingbysigns, note there is no “the” in the Twitter account. Information for the next day is posted there on the afternoon before.