Source of inspiration, the sayings concerning the garden are numerous! They have persisted for centuries for some and are to be taken with discernment. However, these tips of popular wisdom are often based on the experience of our elders and are therefore full of good ideas!
What is a saying?
The saying is a formula of language sometimes containing an experimental truth, a moral or an expression of popular wisdom transmitted orally over time.
It may be regional or more general but offers its truth at some point sometimes in the form of rhyme, as for example in the sayings ‘Late leaf fall, the cold will be sharp‘ or ‘When the hawthorn is in bloom, always fear some coolness‘.
Origin of sayings
Since the 15th century, the meteorological sayings formerly recorded in Latin in almanacs and only accessible to scholars became more democratic and became a real passion in Europe until the 19th century.
Nowadays sayings like ‘The red sky at sunset announces rain or wind‘ or ‘Evening rainbow weather forecast‘ are still relevant.
Gardening calendars continue to distill the sayings with delight at the start of each month. Everyone will draw their own conclusions according to their interpretation and their region.
sayings in the garden
Sayings are often based on observations or experiments that the elders may have done. For example ‘February flowers don’t go to the apple tree’ which indicates that if the apple trees flower too early, the frost risks compromising the future harvest. In the same style ‘Flowers that in March we will see, little fruit we will eat’ which means exactly the same thing.
‘Hot July on cool June, little wheat but good wine speaks for itself, just like ‘May warm and gentle rains, make beautiful flowers and rich ears’.
‘When the swallow skims the ground, bring in your parasols’ is another saying resulting from an observation: when it is going to rain swallows fly low because the insects on which they feed are confined not far from the ground.
‘AT the Saint Damien, we find nuts all over the roads’ also corresponds to a reality, since the walnut harvest begins in September.
These sayings are the result of secular observations and have persisted over the years, some will however be more relevant than others for the gardener.
Relevant sayings for the gardener
Some sayings offer very good indications of what to do in the garden; they can even be a great help for the gardener.
‘Whoever plants during Advent gains a year of time‘: in fact, planting at the beginning of winter allows the plants to produce a strong root system. The plants, if they are hardy, will be much more beautiful the following fall than if they had been planted in March or April.
‘In the kitchen garden, April and May are the keys of the year’: this saying indicates to the gardener that the majority of technical gestures but also sowing and planting must be carried out in April and May, so the harvests will feed him for a good part of the year.
‘In October who does not smoke well will reap nothing’: this saying explains to the gardener that it is necessary to make contributions in manure in October. In the vegetable garden, he can thus spread a good layer of manure as a mulch on the unoccupied beds. By starting this month of the year, the manure will have time to decompose and nourish the soil without the risk of burning the plantations that will be carried out in the spring.
‘AT St. Luke’s Day, the beet becomes sugar’. Saint Luc is celebrated on October 18, when the beet can be harvested. Left in the ground all summer, it has had time to soak up sugar and can be tasted.
‘When July begins, your scythe will sharpen’, tells us about the time when the wheat harvest was done with a scythe. It tells us that the wheat must be harvested in July, but also by extension, that certain wild grasses can be cut after they have bloomed. Thus, pollinating insects will have been able to take full advantage of it!
‘Weather too wet in June, gives the gardener grief’, evokes the loss of many plants under the action of cryptogamic diseases, which, if it is very humid and hot, tend to spread very quickly in the crops. This saying therefore leads to preventive treatment with horsetail manure or with garlic decoctions of garden and vegetable garden plants, if in June it rains a lot.
‘When the red moon has passed, we no longer fear the frost’: it is necessary to wait until this period of the year, which is from mid-April to the beginning of May, has passed to plant the plants that fear the cold in the garden. Indeed, the increasing temperatures during the day contrast enormously with the night temperatures during this period. In clear weather, night frosts are still to be feared.
We can compare this saying to this one: ‘Saints Mamert, Pancrace and Servais are always ice saints.’ which are celebrated on May 11, 12 and 13 each year. Another lesser known saying also states that ‘Winter is only over when the red moon has waned’.
Little saying full of common sense for beekeepers ‘On Saint Daniel’s day, be careful not to remove the honey’. In December, the honey must be left in the hive because it constitutes the reserves necessary for the survival of the colony in winter.
Sayings to be taken with discernment
‘Between Christmas and Candlemas, there is no more plowman’ recommends that the gardener should let his land rest during this period. We can observe here that the sayings cross the ages but that they can be modulated during changes in habits, because nowadays plowing is avoided to preserve the soil and the micro-organisms it shelters. We prefer to spread a thick mulch on the ground, which will keep the soil supple and loose while nourishing it.
‘At Saint Catherine, all wood takes root’, tells us that any wood planted on November 25 will inevitably take root.
Admittedly, the period is very favorable for root cuttings and many plantations, however it extends well beyond this specific day and does not ensure an obvious recovery, if for example you plant your broomstick, no chance let it not take root!
Also pay attention to the planting of all non-hardy plants which should only be planted when all risk of frost has passed.
In the same style ‘If you sow your leeks at Sainte Agathe, for a sprig, you will have four’ is a saying to be taken with tweezers, because only the hardy varieties will resist sowing at the beginning of February.
‘A hoeing is worth two waterings’ is a wise advice if it is added with a thick mulch after the hoeing and copious watering. Binary too often the foot of the plants can cause wounds on the superficial roots of the crops. Admittedly, hoeing will remove unwanted weeds that were competing with your crops, but they will grow back if the soil is not mulched right after!
Hoeing + mulching is therefore the winning formula for saving watering gestures.
Source: Au Jardin, conseils en jardinage by www.aujardin.info.
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