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Winter’s done, and April’s in the skies.
Earth, look up with laughter in your eyes!

–Charles G. D. Roberts (1860–1943)

Who doesn’t love a free gift?

Enter to win this month’s prize.

The submissions to our 2008 Almanac ethnic recipe contest have been tested, tasted, and voted on. The finalists — three cash-prize winners and an honorable mention — will be published in The 2009 Old Farmer’s Almanac and made available on our Web site later this year. We’ll tell you when, but in the meantime, try a few of our favorite prizewinning recipes from past years:

"Peanut Butter" contest winner Thai Chicken With Linguini.

"Appetizer" contest winner Salmon Wontons.

"Rice" contest winner Shrimp and Creamy Spinach Feta Rice.

"Soups and Chowders" contest winner Sweet-Potato Chowder.

"Fruit Desserts" contest winner Crescent City Banana Bundles.

"Save the Layer Cake" contest winner Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Wedding Cake.

Visit our Recipe Database for many more wonderful recipes and to create your own recipe box online. We keep adding new recipes every day!

We hope you found this newsletter ”new, useful, and entertaining” – just like The Old Farmer’s Almanac.

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To determine whether your garden soil is ready for seeds, grab a good handful of it. If you can form it into a ball, the soil is too wet. If it crumbles through your fingers and reminds you of chocolate cake, it’s ready for planting.

If the soil is ready, give it a good stirring and let it sit for several days. Then top-dress it with compost or well-rotted manure and plant beets, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, radishes, parsnips, lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and turnips.

Scatter spinach or lettuce seeds around emerging bulb foliage to make wise use of your garden space and have a leafy green crop at the ready to cover the bare spots left by deadheaded spring flowers.

For more spring garden jobs, visit our garden pages.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac

P.S. Forward this e-mail message to a friend. It’s a quick and easy way to let someone know all the news at Almanac.com.

March 31 — Seward’s Day

This day, celebrated on the last Monday in March, commemorates the signing of the treaty that completed the United States acquisition of Alaska from Russia in 1867.

April 1 —April Fools’ Day

Although the origin of playing practical jokes and pranks on this day is hazy, many folklorists believe that it may go back to 16th-century France. At that time, New Year’s Day was March 25, with a full week of partying and exchanging gifts lasting until April 1. In 1582, the Gregorian calendar moved New Year’s Day back to January 1. Those who forgot or refused to honor the new calendar were the butts of jokes and ridicule.

Weather folklore states, If it thunders on All Fools’ Day, it brings good crops of corn and hay.

SPRING CRAFT — Stenciled Curtains

Spring has officially arrived, and with it comes that familiar urge to clean and redecorate. What better way to refresh a room than to hang hand-stenciled curtains? Whether you begin with fabric from a bolt and make your own curtain panels, or purchase plain curtains to start, this project will be easier than you think — especially if you follow these tips.

BEST DAYS — based on the Moon’s Sign

Spring is a good time to start new activities, but did you know that some people believe that there are advantageous, or favorable, days to do some activities, based on the Moon’s sign? These activities include cutting your hair, giving up smoking, starting or ending projects, or — one of the questions most frequently asked of us here at the Almanac — weaning, as in, "When should I wean my baby from diapers, or from his or her bottle?" The best days for doing these things for March and April are listed in the Astrological Timetable.

Here are two puzzles from old Almanacs in our archives. Enjoy!

How Many Geese?

A man driving his geese to market was met by another who said, "Good morrow, with your hundred geese." He replied, "I have not a hundred, but if I had half as many more as I now have, and two geese and a half, I should have a hundred." How many had he?

Guess the Weights

A grocer having no weights, except a 40-lb. leaden one, wishes to have this cut into four weights in such a manner that he can weigh with these four weights any number of pounds from one up to forty. What should be the weight of the different pieces?

If you think you have the answers to both, please send them to almanac@yankeepub.com by April 4. Put "Puzzle Answers" in the subject line and include your mailing address. Three lucky winners (you have to have both answers correct!) will each receive our new All-Seasons Garden Guide. We will announce the winners in our next newsletter.

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Yankee Publishing Inc., P.O. Box 520, Dublin, NH 03444, USA, (603) 563-8111