Gardening tradition calls for planting potatoes on Good Friday, which falls this year on April 10. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

If you’re able to stay safe at home during the coronavirus pandemic, there is no better therapy than getting outside and into the garden.

While early April is too soon for some outdoor tasks, this week could be a prime time to plant potatoes.

One gardening tradition calls for planting potatoes on Good Friday, which is likely tied to 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. This year’s Good Friday falls on April 10.

Standard practice for potato planting calls for soil temperatures above 45 degrees Fahrenheit, and while this map from ISU Extension shows that all of Iowa is not quite there as of early this week, it could possibly hit that mark by Friday.

Potatoes can also be planted in large pots, which makes them easy to harvest when the time is right.

Iowa State University Extension advises gardeners to plant potatoes in late March or early April in southern Iowa; early to mid-April in central Iowa; and mid to late April in northern portions of the state. New potatoes are then generally ready to harvest by July.

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