new videos
hot off the press!  
    more about rocket
mass heaters here.

more videos from
the PDC here.
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Foraging calendar based on natural events instead of dates  RSS feed

 
dan long
Posts: 274
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've read that Native Americans would judge when best to search for certain plants or mushrooms based on when they saw other plants emerging, flowering, etc. For example, the first new buds mark the beginning of Spring and morels emerge at the same time the lilacs bloom. For those of us in the PNW, the weather is so erratic and unpredictable year-to-year that planting and foraging dates can differ as much 2-4 weeks from the year before. Therefore, I feel it makes more sense for us to use natural indicators rather than dates. For instance: "planting X vegetable when Y vegetable forms seed heads" as opposed to "plant X vegetable in mid July".

I thought for sure that someone would have already complied a list of natural events in chronological order so as to make a sort of foraging/hunting/planting calendar but either im wrong or im not using the correct key words in Google.

Does anybody know if such a tool exists and where I can find it?
 
Topher Belknap
Posts: 205
Location: Midcoast Maine (zone 5b)
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Great idea.

The only folklore I know is 'plant potatoes when oak leaves are the size of a squirrel's ear.' No idea if it is good universal advice.
 
dan long
Posts: 274
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Topher Belknap wrote:
Great idea.

The only folklore I know is 'plant potatoes when oak leaves are the size of a squirrel's ear.' No idea if it is good universal advice.


It is likely good universal advice since oak trees don't wake up one day and go "Oh! Its (month)(day) already?!? time to come out of hibernation!" They are responding to sunlight, temperature, precipitation, etc. The same factors that will affect potato growth.

I appreciate your input!
 
Jenna Sanders
Posts: 54
Location: Michigan, zone 5
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If I'm recalling correctly, some of the foxfire books have information about planting during different moon phases...it would take some research, but this would be an excellent resource to have!
 
dan long
Posts: 274
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Mike Gaughan wrote:The term you are looking for is "phenology", defined by Wikipedia as the "study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events and how these are influenced by seasonal and interannual variations in climate, as well as habitat factors (such as elevation)."

I began using planting signs this gardening season with good success. Some signs I use here in central Connecticut (Zone 6) include:
plant peas when the daffodils bloom or spring peepers sing
plant spring veggies when dandelions are in bloom or the lilacs have leafed out
plant bush beans and summer squash when the lilac flowers have faded
transplant tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant when the bearded iris is in bloom.

I did transplant kale, cabbage, and chard according to a calendar date based on X number of weeks before the last frost date. The plants were severely set back by a hard, lingering winter here in New England. The "rescue" transplants that I set out when the dandelions bloomed did just fine. Lesson learned! This stuff is for real, because the native vegetation are far more tuned into soil temperatures and day length than are we, the gardeners.


Using the search term "phenology calendar pnw" I found EXACTLY what i was looking for. Thank you so much. I'm going to share this information so that others can benefit from it as well.
 
Topher Belknap
Posts: 205
Location: Midcoast Maine (zone 5b)
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jenna Sanders wrote:If I'm recalling correctly, some of the foxfire books have information about planting during different moon phases...it would take some research, but this would be an excellent resource to have!


I have never understood this. A moon cycle is 29 days, say I am supposed to plant during a full moon, I might be planting 29 days later one year than another. In Maine that can be half the growing season (just kidding, sort of). Even if there were some advantage to planting on a full moon, I would be better off planting sooner, and having slightly less good plants, with 4 weeks more growth.

Thank You Kindly,
Topher
 
dan long
Posts: 274
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Topher Belknap wrote:
Jenna Sanders wrote:If I'm recalling correctly, some of the foxfire books have information about planting during different moon phases...it would take some research, but this would be an excellent resource to have!


I have never understood this. A moon cycle is 29 days, say I am supposed to plant during a full moon, I might be planting 29 days later one year than another. In Maine that can be half the growing season (just kidding, sort of). Even if there were some advantage to planting on a full moon, I would be better off planting sooner, and having slightly less good plants, with 4 weeks more growth.

Thank You Kindly,
Topher


Without having researched it myself, I think "moon phase" refers mostly to whether the moon is waxing or waning. At most, you would plant 15 days later or earlier.
 
Dale Hodgins
garden master
Posts: 6681
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
252
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I tend to look at the tree or bush that I plan to forage from. Nature conveniently alters the color of things as they ripen. Salal berries on open ground on my south facing slopes are ready now. Those in shaded north facing areas may still have berries in October. No calendar could tell me this.

There are websites where wild foragers place alerts. "Elderberries ripe on the east slope of Mt. Jam Maker". Most will not share the location of their morell mushroom sweet spot or other info on rare and limited resources.
 
Peter Ingot
Posts: 129
7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
dan long wrote:
Topher Belknap wrote:
Jenna Sanders wrote:If I'm recalling correctly, some of the foxfire books have information about planting during different moon phases...it would take some research, but this would be an excellent resource to have!


I have never understood this.  A moon cycle is 29 days, say I am supposed to plant during a full moon, I might be planting 29 days later one year than another.  In Maine that can be half the growing season (just kidding, sort of).  Even if there were some advantage to planting on a full moon, I would be better off planting sooner, and having slightly less good plants, with 4 weeks more growth.

Thank You Kindly,
Topher


Without having researched it myself, I think "moon phase" refers mostly to whether the moon is waxing or waning. At most, you would plant 15 days later or earlier.


Some people believe that planting by moon phase is important. Biodynamics has moved towards a belief that the moon sign (the zodiac sign that the moon is in) is more important. The moonsign changes every 2 days or so and bears no relation to moon phase. The basic idea is that when the moon is in a fire sign (Aries, Leo, Sagitarius) plant for for fruits, air signs (Aquarius, Gemini, Libra) are for flowers, Water signs (Pisces, Cancer, Scorpio) are for leaf vegetables and earth signs (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn) are for root vegetables. If you miss a planting date, another will come around in a week or so

Maria Thun has experimented with this and produced excellently designed experiments, data and stats, to support her claims. Whether you believe her data or not is up to you. I've discussed the topic here http://www.ianslunarpages.org/Lunar_gardening.html Broadly I agree with Topher. My feeling is that the moon is a statistically significant factor in plant growth, but this does not always mean it's a very important factor and certainly not the most important factor as some seem to think. It worked for me in a mild maritime climate, where things like planting dates were quite flexible. In a continental climate, it worked less well, because the window of opportunity for preparing beds and planting, between winter cold and summer drought was much shorter. If I got a warm sunny day in spring on my clay soil, it was important to  got beds ready and plant, whatever the moon was doing. Likewise rainy days in summer were important for transplanting. Waiting a week for the optimum moon planting date would be counterproductive as the solar cycle and weather were far more important.

I have some examples of planting and foraging calendars here: quote:
"The Banks Islands are part of Melanesia. The islanders live by growing vegetables such as yams and by fishing, esteeming very highly the palolo or "un", a marine annelid worm which masses on their beaches at full moon in late summer. The Islanders refer to the months by the work which they perform in that month, or the changes occuring in nature. There are about 30 names of months, so one month may be known by several names. Some of these months overlap each other. I suppose different names of months could be used in different years, depending on the timing of the full moons relative to natural phenomena. The calendar begins with the April moon........  http://www.ianslunarpages.org/calendar.html "

"The Ba-Ila live in Northern Zimbabwe. They live by a combination of farming and hunting. .... Their year is divided into three seasons: Chidimo, the cultivation period, or Spring; Mainza, the rainy season; and Mweto or winter. The transitions between the seasons are known as kungosoka, or change of season. The names of the lunar months within these seasons are given below, along with their aproximate translations: ...... http://www.ianslunarpages.org/calendar.html /"

The Polynesians had a lunar calendar giving activities for each day of the lunar month:

DAY
(7 thru 10) 'Ole ku kahi - The seas are rough. Unfortunate for planting, fishing, and healing.

(11) Huna - Good fishing. Planting of root plants and gourds.

(12) Mohalu - Sacred to Lono, akua of vegetation. Flowers planted this night would be round and perfect like the moon.

(14) Akua - Night of Kapu. Night Marchers may be seen.

(16) Mahealani - Night of the Full moon. "Lucky." a good night during which to divine the future.

(17) Kulu - Offerings of first fruits to the akua.

(21 thru 22) 'Ole ku kahi - see above.

(23) 'Ole pau - Offerings and sacrifice made (not human), and prayers said. Good for healing.

(27)Kane - Sacred to the akua after which it is named. Prayers are made to Kane and Lono. no planting or fishing is allowed. No fires are made, and all sound is forbidden. Another night in which Night Marchers are seen. Families who recognize sharks as 'aumakua might choose this day to transfigure their recently deceased relative into sharks.

(2 Lono - Second day of Kane kapu. Prayers for rain. Good for healing and all positive things. Sound was forbidden.

(29) Mauli - Good day for marriage. Tides are low.

(30) Muku - The moon vanishes. Fishing is good but healing is held off until next day.http://www.ianslunarpages.org/moonmyth1.html#polynesia

Something equivalent existed in ancient Greece it's described in "Works and Days" by Hesiod. I'm going a bit far into folklore now, so I'll stop
 
Travis Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 1194
126
books cat chicken duck rabbit transportation trees woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have made a few observations for the last 42 years I have been here on this farm:

The moon contributes significantly to when a person should harvest or plant. I say that because on December 21st, where the moon is in the sky drastically changes. Sometimes as the moon sets it is 4 trees over from the big tree up in the field, and sometimes it is 10 trees away. What the heck does that mean, silly Travis Johnson you may ask? A lot actually. Since the moon controls the tides, and the tides control the currents in the ocean, and the currents control how weather is formed, it dictates dry and wet conditions, and thus whether or not Maine will get a few Nor'Easters, Alberta Clippers, or Arctic Cold.

Another thing I have noticed is that the old Folk Tale of whether the moon is tipped, or cupped holds true as well. This is when there moon is in Quarter. It is said that if the moon is moon is tipped enough to let water pour out, it is going to be wet or snowing, and if it is rotated up enough (as it is now) where water inside it could not pour out, it will be dry or lack snow. I have yet to see this not be a real world indicator of weather.

I am silly too in that I will not plant my garden before the first full moon in May. Again, I have yet to see this fail as we inevitably get frost right up to the full moon. We have never got frost after the full moon in May however.

Another one is a farm pond my Grandfather built in 1965. He always said that if the pond was dry in the fall, it would fill in the Spring, meaning lots of snow for winter. Last year we had a severe drought, everything was dry, and yet this winter we received 72 inches of snow in 10 days time: a record in Maine. Yep, his word still holds true.

The drought also affected lambing season this year. Amazingly sheep can figure this stuff out too. Since they had dismal feed because of the severe drought, the ewes lost condition, signalling to their bodies that they were doomed and should not procreate as much. Instead of dropping multiple eggs as they typically do giving twins, they dropped one giving us singles. I should have brought them in the barn, fed them supplemental feed to combat that, but because of the drought lacked enough feed to do that. I paid for that in a low lamb crop this year, however so did everyone here and lamb prices are really high right now due to availability!

Another weather pattern I have noticed is that weather comes in 145 day blocks. How do I know that? Sheep! Most breeds of sheep only breed when it is cool out in the fall, so 145 days later I am blessed with lambs. However it is a saying that sheep only lamb in the worst of weather, and it is true because if it was cool in which to breed, 145 days later it is cooler than normal temperatures too. Since this is January, it is downright cold! Take this year for instance, we had a slug of lambs in February, then when we hit that February thaw, lambing suddenly stopped. It stopped for a whole week and a half until cold weather returned...just what it did in the fall which is what stimulated breeding. Over the years you notice patterns like this.

Myself I am not sure I would go by signals giving by nature in order to farm by. I have seen too many animals and plants get lulled out of winter slumber from an extended January thaw only to perish when winter came back with a vengeance. And so it is with plants. This year the sap started to really run when we got a February thaw, then stopped, then ran again. Trees started to bud out and everything.

To combat that I use Excel. It is part permiculture (watching patterns over the years) and partly technology. Basically it allows a farmer to average. For instance as a farmer in Maine I MUST winter feed and calculate it carefully. I know from tracking things on Excel, except for 1 year out of 8, I was grazing sheep on pasture in the second week of April. Knowing that, I know how many winter feed days I have, and I can calculate my daily feed out so I can hit my target, selling excess feed for profit, or limiting waste so that I won't have to buy extra feed. A farmer can do this with firewood, or anything that is seasonably consumed.

Interestingly enough, my birthday is on May 8th, and over the last 42 years I have noted that while many years it seemed like we would get an early Spring, not once has the area farmers been able to start tillage before my birthday...something always came up. A cold snap, heavy rains, a late season snowstorm. It is this sort of observation that I believe can really make or break a farm because it is all about planning. As the saying goes, "no one plans to fail, but people fail to plan." The better the farm plan, the better the chances of success.



 
Anne Miller
pollinator
Posts: 730
Location: USDA Zone 8a
48
bee dog food preservation greening the desert hunting toxin-ectomy
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Excellent post, Travis.  Great info from everyone!

Someone on permies mentioned mesquite trees for last frost date or something like that.  We are waiting for the first week of April, even though we have 70-80 degree days.  I notice yesterday that our two mesquite trees have leaves.  I am going to check the oak trees.  I am also noticing that the live oak trees are losing the leaves, maybe to put out new leaves?
 
Libbie Hawker
Posts: 102
Location: Friday Harbor, WA
6
chicken food preservation hugelkultur
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Much of the moon-phase planting stuff has to do with where the water table is sitting within the soil. Planting seeds or new seedlings when the water table is being pulled up higher simply makes the water more available to them, and gives them a better start.

The moon's gravitational pull is the reason why we have tides. Folks who don't live near salt water or other tidal waters (estuaries, etc.) might not be very aware of the dramatic difference in tides, but those of us who are near tides certainly are aware of just how much effect the moon has on water levels. It makes sense that if the moon can manipulate the level of sea water, then it can certainly manipulate ground water, too.

 
Peter Ingot
Posts: 129
7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Libbie Hawker wrote:Much of the moon-phase planting stuff has to do with where the water table is sitting within the soil. Planting seeds or new seedlings when the water table is being pulled up higher simply makes the water more available to them, and gives them a better start.

The moon's gravitational pull is the reason why we have tides. Folks who don't live near salt water or other tidal waters (estuaries, etc.) might not be very aware of the dramatic difference in tides, but those of us who are near tides certainly are aware of just how much effect the moon has on water levels. It makes sense that if the moon can manipulate the level of sea water, then it can certainly manipulate ground water, too.



It's a good suggestion. A few years ago there was a paper in Nature  [Ernst Zurcher, Maria-Giulia Cantiani, Francesco Sorbetti-Guerri & Denis Michel (1998 ) Tree stem diameters fluctuate with tide Nature 392 16th April p.665] showing that tree trunks fluctuate with the phase of the moon.  It backs up what you are saying: more water flows through a tree at new moon, causing it to swell. It's also interesting how many times this claim had been made previously and dismissed because it sounded like astrology. It's not exactly difficult to repeat an experiment when the equipment is just a tape measure and a calendar
 
Tj Jefferson
pollinator
Posts: 210
Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
23
bee chicken hugelkultur hunting
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I will admit this seemed like phenology is a stand-in for phrenology until I read all the posts. That is super interesting about the tidal pull on groundwater. I don't grow much in the way of annuals yet but last night was our final frost here and I am going to check the phenology and moon situation and correlate.

Cool stuff and thanks for the informative postings!
 
Come have lunch with me Arthur. Adventure will follow. This tiny ad:
2017 Rocket Mass Heater Workshop Jamboree - 15 workshops in one event
https://permies.com/wiki/63312/permaculture-projects/Rocket-Mass-Heater-Workshop-Jamboree
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!