Gardening lore calls for planting potatoes on Good Friday. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Planting potatoes on Good Friday isn’t always feasible, but for 2022, it might make sense.

Good Friday falls relatively late this year, on April 15, so while the soil temperature may not be prime when the Holy Day hits in March or early April, the soil might make it above 45 degrees Fahrenheit by mid-April in Iowa, the standard for getting potatoes in the ground.

Growing up with Czech traditions, Good Friday potato planting was among the folklore, but according to one Czech saying, the opposite was followed. Na Velký Pátek zemi nehýbej translates to “On Good Friday, do not move the soil,” Petr Chudoba notes on My Czech Republic.

The practice may actually have its origins in the phases of the moon. According to this tradition, flowers and vegetables that bear crops above ground should be planted during the light, or waxing, of the moon, from the day the moon is new to the day it is full.

Flowering bulbs and vegetables that bear crops below ground are planted during the dark, or waning, of the moon, from the day after it is full to the day before it is new again.

The date of Easter changes every year, but is set as the Sunday following the paschal full moon, which is the full moon that falls on or after the vernal, or spring equinox.

Generally, that would set Good Friday during the waning of the moon, the time to plant below-ground crops.

In Iowa, appropriate planting time varies from early April in southern portions of the state to mid- to late April for northern areas.

Iowa State University Extension & Outreach advises planting seed pieces cut side down  and small whole potatoes 3 to 4 inches deep and 1 foot apart within the row. Rows should be spaced 2½ to 3 feet apart.

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