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It is the first mild day of March: Each minute sweeter than before, The redbreast sings from the tall larch That stands beside our door.
–William Wordsworth (1770–1850)
In this issue, you’ll find information on these topics:
Weather folklore often involves "reading" the sky, colors of clouds, and wind patterns. Here are a few examples:
The higher the clouds, the finer the weather.
If you spot wispy, thin clouds up where jet airplanes fly, expect a spell of pleasant weather.
When clouds appear like towers, the earth is refreshed by frequent showers.
When you see large, cauliflower-like clouds that look like castles in the sky, there is a lot of "dynamic" weather going on inside. Smorgasbord of clouds. Expect rain or snow.
If you have what amounts to a hodgepodge of all different types of clouds before you, weather is arriving from all different directions. This chaotic sky usually signals rain or snow. Ring around the Moon? Rain real soon.
A ring around the Moon usually indicates an advancing warm front, which means precipitation. Under those conditions, high, thin clouds get lower and thicker as they pass over the Moon. Ice crystals are reflected by the Moon’s light, causing a halo to appear.
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Was there really a Saint Patrick? Definitely. Did he really drive the snakes out of Ireland? Probably not. At age 16 (around A.D. 400), Patrick was kidnapped from his home on the west coast of England and carried off to Ireland. After six years, he escaped; upon returning home, he received his call (in a dream) to preach the Gospel. He spent the next 15 or so years in a monastery, preparing for his missionary work. Although some Christians lived in Ireland at the time, it was Patrick who spread Christianity throughout the land and brought an organized church into existence. We wear a shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day because Patrick used its three leaves to explain the Trinity. But, as far as we know, he never drank green beer!
Sincerely, The Old Farmer’s Almanac
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March 15 — The Ides of March
This has long been considered an ill-fated day. The word ides comes from a Latin word meaning "to divide." In fact, the ancient Romans considered the ides of any month unfavorable. The concept of unlucky days survived Julius Caesar (who was assassinated on March 15, 44 B.C.—talk about bad luck) and calendar reforms. William Shakespeare made the phrase "Beware the ides of March" a popular saying in his play Julius Caesar.
March 17 — St. Patrick’s Day
March 17 is widely accepted as the date of Saint Patrick’s death in A.D. 461.
The first St. Patrick’s Day parade in the United States was held in New York City on this day in 1762.
Cabbage seeds are often planted today, and old-time farmers believed that to make them grow well, you needed to plant them while wearing your nightclothes.
On St. Patrick’s Day, the warm side of a rock turns up, and the broad-back goose begins to lay.
March 20 —Vernal EquinoX
Spring begins at exactly 1:48 A.M. (EDT).
Wind northeast or north at noon of the vernal equinox, no fine weather before midsummer. If westerly or southwesterly, fine weather till midsummer.
March 21 —Full Worm Moon
At the time of this spring Moon, the ground begins to soften and earthworm casts reappear, inviting the return of robins. This is also known as the Sap Moon, as it marks the time when maple sap begins to flow and the annual tapping of maple trees begins.
March 23 —Easter
This Christian holy day celebrates the resurrection of Christ after his Crucifixion. It was probably the earliest of the church’s annual festivals and was fused with elements of pagan spring festivals celebrating new life.
Get a Head Start
Manure can be spread over the garden now, especially on the asparagus and rhubarb beds.
Be sure that flats and pots used for starting seed are perfectly clean. Likewise, the soil should be clean and sterile.
Mark and label your sown seeds, indoors and out.
Water newly started seedlings carefully. A pitcher may let the water out too forcefully. A mist sprayer is gentle but can take a long time. Try using a meat-basting syringe, which will dispense the water effectively without causing too much soil disruption.
Give peas a chance. The earlier they mature, the sweeter they’ll be. Sow them right under the snow, if necessary, but save some for a later planting as well.
Spread dark plastic intended for mulch over the garden site to hasten the warming of the soil. This will provide for earlier and better germination.
Keep plastic milk jugs or other coverings on hand to protect the flowers of pansies.
Start seedlings of annuals in flats — aster, larkspur, alyssum, and balsam should be started now (or six to eight weeks before the last frost date in your area). If your summer season is short, zinnias should be started now. They will need to be potted up in individual pots after four to five weeks.
Start some vegetables in flats now: Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, and lettuce are good choices.