March 11-17, 2013
The very beginning is perhaps the best part of a garden. Now the breeze feels as soft and sweet as it used to be on the first spring day that I could go barefoot. The whistle of a cardinal comes from far off through the hazy air. The sun, riding higher in the sky, arouses not only the buds and seeds but also the dormant hopes of the gardener. The memory of past mistakes and failure has been washed out by winter rain. This year the garden will be the best ever.
-Harlan Hubbard, Payne Hollow
Lunar phase and lore
The Maple Blossom Moon (new on March 11 at 2:51 p.m.) waxes throughout the week, entering its second quarter at 1:27 p.m. March 19. Rising in the morning and setting in the evening, this crescent moon lies overhead in the afternoon. Lunar position should improve fishing after lunch, especially as the cold fronts of March 14 and 19 approach.
When the moon passes through Pisces on March 10-11 and through Taurus March 14-17, lunar conditions for planting all of your flower seeds in flats or hardy vegetables in the ground – including St. Patrick’s Day peas – will be ideal.
After dark, Leo and bright Regulus lie overhead, forecasting daffodils. Arcturus is rising in the east, and when that star is above you at 10 p.m., tulips will be blossoming.
Behind Arcturus comes the Corona Borealis, the corn planting star group. At morning chore time, the Summer Triangle, outrider of July’s corn tassels, fills the eastern half of the sky and the Milky Way of harvest follows close behind.
Throughout March, average temperatures climb almost a dozen degrees, the world warming twice as fast as it did in February.
Starting in the lower 30s on the first of the month, normal averages rise 1 degree every 50 hours, reaching the middle 40s by the beginning of April. Typical lows swell from the 20s to well above freezing, and highs climb from the lower 40s up to near 55.
A typical temperature distribution for this month includes up to two days in the 70s, five days in the 60s, six days in the 50s, nine days in the 40s, eight days in the 30s and one day in the 20s. Frost occurs on about a dozen of the 31 mornings in March, but the last hard freeze of the season frequently takes place prior to April 1.
March 11: When pussy willows emerge all the way, that is a sign maple syrup time is just about over for the year and that red-winged blackbirds have staked out their territories. New moon today is expected to intensify the effects of the March 10 cold front.
March 12: This is a great lunar time for setting out pansies, cabbages, kale, collards and Brussels sprouts, and for seeding lettuce and spinach, too.
March 13: It never hurts to put a few corn and tomato seeds directly into the ground in the middle of March. You never know when the spring will develop into the warmest on record (like it did last year).
If you make a few feet of experimental plantings every few days, you will probably be the one with the earliest of everything, no matter what the weather is. Cold frames, of course, give early March seedlings a much better chance for survival.
March 14: The March 14 cold front is usually uneventful, compared to the equinox front to come. It is often accompanied by brighter skies for a day or so before it moves toward the Atlantic, to make way for the much stronger and more disruptive weather system of March 19.
March 15: Be sure the baby chicks don’t get chilled in the March winds. Keep up winter precautions until both the season and the birds have matured a bit.
March 16: Throughout the Deep South, this date signals the start of planting sweet corn and corn for grain.
In Texas and Arizona, farmers put in cotton. Peas and potatoes go in the ground across the lower Midwest as St. Patrick’s Day approaches.
March 17: As pasture season spreads north, be sure baking soda is on hand for bloat in sheep and goats. And consider culling before you put your animals out to pasture.
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