The Seeds Of Belief

Mountain people have traditionally kept close ties to the land, and for good reason. Up until this century, and even well into it in many areas, you lived by what plant and animal life the mountains offered. An important part of getting through the winter was preparing well ahead of time, stocking away produce for the lean months. Of course, it helped to be able to read the "signs" and know what type of winter was coming.


Plants offered wisdom in other ways, too. The shamrock, or four-leaf clover, has long been viewed as a sign of luck. For example, sewing one into the collar of a shirt brought luck, and it was considered bad luck to give away or lose a four-leaf clover. The following are some of the beliefs held by Appalachian people, though, like most such lore, the beliefs varied by region.

  • Put a four-leaf clover in your shoe and make a wish. When you lose the clover, your wish will come true.
  • A five-leaf clover brings bad luck.
  • Grass won't grow where human blood has been spilled.
  • Catch a thistle seed, then blow it into the air. If it doesn't hit the ground before it gets out of sight, your wish will come true, but only if you don't tell anyone the wish.
  • Crushing rosemary into a glass of wine will boost mental powers.
  • Make a wish on a load of hay, but don't look until the load is out of sight, and the wish will come true.
  • Flowers which bloom out of season are evil.
  • Pluck the petals on a daisy, and if the number counted comes out even, you will have good luck for that many days.
  • Dreaming of thorns is bad luck.
  • Apples with red spots inside means that the tree's roots grew into the body of a murdered person.
  • The number of seeds in an apple will be your lucky number.
  • Bury a hickory stick in a moist place, and it will turn to stone in seven years.
  • Weeping willows will bring the planter bad luck.
  • Conduct most of your garden chores during the waxing of the moon.
  • Plowing on Good Friday will cause the ground to bleed.
  • Light nights make light crops: never plant when the moon is full.
  • All above-ground crops should be planted with the new moon.
  • Root crops should be planted during the last two days of a full moon.
  • If you burn potato peelings, your crop won't grow the next year.
  • Root crops should be planted under the sign of Taurus for quicker growth.
  • Seeds planted under Virgo will result in many leaves but not much fruit.
  • Sweet potatoes dug on a dark night will be sweeter and keep better.
  • Seeds planted on St. Patrick's day grow better.
  • It's bad luck to burn wood from a tree struck by lightning.
  • Gardens do better if seeds are planted on even-numbered days of the month.
  • Planting on Friday is bad luck, unless the zodiac sign is right.
  • Tomatoes should be planted on Memorial Day.
  • Friday is a good day to plant crops which dangle from branches because Friday is hangman's day.
  • Don't plant seeds until after the apple trees bloom.
  • It's good luck to steal herbs.
  • Tobacco grows well if planted under the sign of Cancer.
  • Never plant under a north wind.
  • Whip a poor-yielding tree and it will bear better the next year.
  • Trees blossoming twice in a year brings bad luck.
  • When cutting wood, spit in your palms for good luck.
  • A snowy winter portends a good year for crops.
  • Don't thank a person who gives you seeds or roots, or the plants will never grow.
  • A saying for planting tobacco: "Some for you, some for I, some for the devil, some for the fly."
  • Hang a horseshoe in a fruit tree for a heavy crop.
  • After planting a hill of beans, press the soil with your foot for better luck.
  • If you point your finger at a cucumber bloom, the bloom will fall off.
  • Beans planted on dark nights will grow the best crops.
  • Plant beans early in the morning if you want to have the crop come in earlier in the season.
  • For a better cabbage crop, sew the seeds in your bedclothes on March 17th.
  • Drive a rusty nail on the north side of a tree for better yields.
  • Corn should be planted under the new moon so that most of the growing will be done at the tip.
  • Wood cut on light nights will burn hotter.
  • Planting peppers when you are mad makes the peppers grow hotter.
  • Grass seed won't freeze if planted when the moon points down.
  • Corn planted under the waning moon grows slower but produces larger ears.
  • If onion bulbs are planted upside down, they will come out in China.
  • To keep away crows, kill one and hang it from a garden pole.
  • Onions should be planted in the old of the moon.
  • Trees are best trimmed in the full moon of February or November.
  • Peas should be planted as near to twelve noon as possible.
  • Plant potatoes at night so that the eyes don't see light.
  • Tie a piece of white string across the garden to keep birds away.
  • Cut briars and weeds when the moon is waning to kill them.
  • Plant flowers under Virgo for the best blooms.
  • Corn should be planted when the dogwoods are in bloom and the poplar leaves are as big as squirrel ears.
  • Wheat always ripens in the light of the moon, not the dark.
  • If you laugh while planting corn, the kernels will have big gaps in them.
  • Red-headed gardeners grow hotter peppers.
  • To make hydrangeas blue, put rusty nails at the roots.
  • Eat sugar before planting fruit trees to make the fruit sweeter.
  • Plant watermelons before breakfast for best results.
  • Cobs from seed corn should be placed in running water and not burned.
  • If two people's hoes hit together, they will work in the same field next year.
  • For a good crop of watermelons, crawl to the patch backwards on the first day of May.

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