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Gardening Superstitions

Gardening Superstitions
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Folklore and superstitions have swirled around gardening for years and go well beyond lucky four-leaf clovers or moon-phase planting. Gardening superstitions have been passed down through generations orally, tidbits of advice rumored to bring good luck — or ward off bad — to crops and home. While some may have origins seeded in truth, others evolved from the beliefs and fears of that time. Read on to learn about some of old gardening superstitions and wives tales.

Lucky and Unlucky Plants

Lucky Plants
The cheery sunflower plant was said to bring happiness and good fortune.
Roses have always promised romance and love.
Basil was believed to encourage healing.

Unlucky Plants
Picking of the weed Queen Anne’s lace — coined “the step-mother blessing”—was believed to result in the death of one’s mother.
Picking Foxgloves was another no-no back in the day, as it was believed to have brought sure death to the picker or picker’s family members if brought inside the home. It was considered bad luck to bring on board a ship as well.

Other Folklore

How to Make Pepper Plants Hotter
Make hot peppers grow hotter by shaking the plants periodically while they are growing to strengthen the intensity of the heat flavor. It has also been said that not watering the last week before harvestist hot peppers will make them hotter, however, if the plants are shriveling and obviously thirsty, I wouldn’t recommend withholding water.

Spring Snow is Poor Man’s Fertilizer
There is truth in this saying. When a late snow falls, nitrogen from the air accumulates into it. As it slowly melts, the nitrogen is readily absorbed in to the soil rather than being washed away as it would with a rainfall. This provides the plants that will be growing with a tiny boost of natural fertilizer.

Nothing Will Grow Under a Walnut Tree
There’s a bit of truth in this saying. Black walnut trees are toxic to most other plants because of the chemical it produces called juglone. Even if a black walnut tree is removed or cut down, growing conditions may remain poor as juglone can stay in the soil for quite some time.

Make a Cucumber Less Bitter
Cutting the tips off cucumbers and rubbing the exposed inner flesh with the tips is said to make a cucumber less bitter. While there is no proof that this actually works, peeling a cucumber will alleviate most of the bitter taste, and discarding the cucumber tip at about ½ inch along with it may indeed help to remedy the bitterness.

Shelley Wigglesworth


Shelley Wigglesworth


Shelley (Fleming) Wigglesworth is an award-winning freelance journalist from Maine specializing in maritime topics and the commercial fishing industry. She is also a certified Maine Master Gardener who writes gardening articles on a regular basis for Yankee Magazine. Her work can be found in the following publications: The York County Coast Star, Portsmouth Herald, Bangor Daily News, Yankee Magazine (online), National Fisherman Magazine, Commercial Fisheries News, Tourist News, Points East Magazine, Coastal Angler and The Maine Lobstermen's Association’s “Landings.” Follow Shelley on Facebook.
Updated Monday, May 12th, 2014

2 Responses to Gardening Superstitions

  1. Daryle Thomas May 27, 2014 at 9:00 am #

    I’m sure Shelley Wigglesworth knows this, but for those who don’t, so called “burpless” cucumbers are often known as “bitter free.”

    These cucumbers are thinner skinned and less likely to attract cucumber beetles. The bitter free skin is less tasty to them. Many people do not peel them, eating the cucumber skin and all.

    I grew over 50 “Socrates” cucumbers in a 22 1/2 inch by 22 1/2 inch raised planter last year. Actually only 40 made it to full size, about a dozen were sacrificed early for flavor testing during the season.

  2. DebbieT June 29, 2015 at 3:56 pm #

    My mom always told me not to thank someone for the gift of a plant or it won’t grow. I always remember but tell people WHY I don’t thank them but adding gratitude for the “lovely pot” even if it’s a plastic six-pack.

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