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Only 10 more weeks ’til most tender garden plants can set
March 4-10, 2013
All things are engaged in writing their history … Not a foot steps into the snow, or along the ground, but prints in characters more or less lasting, a map of its march. The ground is all memoranda and signatures; and every object covered over with hints. In nature, this self-registration is incessant, and the narrative is the print of the seal.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson (1850)

Lunar phase and lore

The Lenten Rose Moon, entering its final quarter on March 4 at 4:53 p.m., wanes through the period, becoming the new Maple Blossom Moon at 2:51 p.m. March 11. When the maple trees flower, then the best of sap tapping time is over, and the land is deep into early spring.

Rising before dawn and setting in the afternoon, this moon moves overhead near midday. Lunar position favors lunchtime fishing throughout the week, especially as the cold fronts of March 5 and 9 push down the barometer before them.

The most favorable time for starting seeds under lights or directly in the garden will be with the moon in Capricorn on March 5-7 and in Pisces on March 11-12, but the new moon often causes a spike in behavioral problems with children and the very old.

Venus lies in Aquarius, lost in the daylight throughout the year’s third month. Mars, in Pisces, comes up after sunrise and precedes Jupiter in Taurus, low in the west near sundown. Saturn still moves across the pre-dawn southern sky in Libra throughout March.
And, don’t forget Daylight Saving Time will soon begin again – set clocks ahead one hour at 2 a.m. Sunday, March 10.

Weather trends

Although March is the most unpredictable month of spring, certain weather patterns are visible in the majority of years. The first 10 days of the period are usually they coldest, and new moon on March 11 is likely to extend the chill.

A second major cool spell is often experienced between March 15-22. Milder south winds normally prevail during the second and especially the fourth week. But full moon on March 27 is likely to strengthen the ordinarily mild end-of-the-month weather system.


March 4: As the weather moderates, dock your goats’ tails, give a tetanus antitoxin and clip feet. Plant trees, shrubs, raspberries and root crops between now and new moon. Test your soil, then spread bone meal for your garden bulbs and fertilizer in the field garden.
If you have pets or livestock, keep an eye out for an increase in the number of coyotes. Coyote attacks often surge as the weather becomes more temperate.

March 5: When pussy willows open all the way, all the crocuses are in full bloom and maple syrup time is over. Water striders appear on the ponds and sloughs, and woolly bear caterpillars come out from winter hibernation.

March 6: Complete the spraying of fruit trees. Mites, scale and aphid eggs will mature quickly when the temperatures climb above 60 degrees. The insects will be more easily controlled by dormant oil spray the closer they are to hatching. Inspect trees for winter damage. Remove dead and dying limbs.

March 7: Do late pruning on colder afternoons. Spread fertilizer. Remove old rhubarb and asparagus stalks, cleaning out around the beds, digging in well-rotted manure. Uncover and fertilize strawberries. Cut off tips of young black raspberry branches, and remove old canes.

March 8: Just 10 weeks until the most tender flowers and vegetables can be set out in the garden.

March 9: Horseradish leaves stretches out to an inch or two, and rhubarb is up to 4-5 inches. Honeysuckle buds are unraveling on the lowest branches. Bleeding hearts are pushing their heads from the ground as day lilies reach to the top of your boots, and snow trillium blossoms appear in the bottomlands.

March 10: Daylight Saving Time begins today. Transition your livestock and your family to the new feeding and workday schedule.
Be especially careful commuting to work: Accidents typically rise when time changes occur.

Listen to Poor Will’s Radio Almanack on podcast anytime at and follow Poor Will on Twitter: @poor wilsalmanac