I have been using our Gardening by the Moon Calendar for the last five years. I have found it a fascinating way to plant and care for my garden.
Gardening by the moon is an ancient practice. It probably began with the Egyptians or Babylonians. There were no calendars or clocks in ancient days, but the phases of the moon and the constellations in the sky were watched and followed. In the early part of the 20th century, studies were done by Rudolph Steiner and his followers. The Biodynamic movement uses the moon phases and the constellations as a guide for planting. Today, our easy to use calendar makes this ancient practice accessible to every gardener. A sample page is shown below. You basically look at the calendar, read what you should be doing on various dates, and try to plan accordingly.
What if it rains or you are too busy or something else comes up on the days you were planning to plant your radish seeds? I try and plan ahead, but if it doesn't work out, I plant as soon as I can. I ALWAYS mark on my plant label the date and whether or not I planted in sync with the moon or not. That way I can track my success with this method.
If you look on the label above, you can see I planted zucchini seed on July 26, 2020 w/the moon. I use a little crescent moon symbol on each label to keep track. You can figure out your own method but I find it very interesting to see how the crop turned out.
The pull of the moon is very strong due to its close proximity to the earth. We all know that the moon has an effect on weather patterns, ocean tides, and human behavior. It also has an effect on plants. The moon cycle takes 29 days to complete. The increase or decrease in moonlight controls the amount of moisture in the soil and controls ground water. It also controls the movement of fluids in plants, the water in our bodies, and the ocean tides. This is all due to gravitational pull. Tides are the highest at the time of the new moon and full moon because that is when the sun and moon are lined up with the earth- they are on opposite sides of the earth at those times.
Here are a few basic terms to understand:
The WAXING MOON is an increasing moon and follows the new moon each month. During the waxing moon the water table rises, plants take up nutrients faster, and seeds germinate quicker
The NEW MOON is the dark moon. On the exact day of the full moon, it is best not to plant as the “tidal forces” are confused as the “tides turn”.
The FIRST QUARTER is the ideal time to plant annual crops that bear above ground and produce seed outside of the plant (ex. lettuce, kale).
The SECOND QUARTER is the time to plant crops that bear fruit above ground and produce seeds inside the plant (ex. peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers). This is also a good time to graft fruit trees. As the full moon approaches, water increases in plants. Harvest juicy berries and vegetables that are mostly water such as cucumbers and succulent greens.
The FULL MOON is usually marked on traditional calendars. Just as with the new moon, on the exact day of the full moon, it is best not to plant as the “tidal forces” are confused as the “tides turn”. It is a good day to harvest herbs as their essential oils are their most concentrated. Fragrant flowers are the most fragrant on the day of the full moon.
The WANING MOON is a decreasing of light and takes place after the full moon each month. The water table is being drawn down. Sap runs slower. Plants orient themselves towards their roots.
The THIRD QUARTER is the best time to plant root crops, and bulbs. It is also the best time to plant perennials, biennials, trees, vines, and anything that needs to develop a strong root system. Prune plants in the third quarter and they will lose much less sap from the cut end.
The FOURTH QUARTER is a period when growth in plants is discouraged. It is the ideal time to weed, thin, eliminate pests, mulch, turn compost, and turn over garden soil. The water table has been pulled downward to its lowest point.
The 12 signs of the Zodiac (constellations) also affect how plants grow. Planting time is determined by when the moon actually passes through the various constellations and the positioning of both the moon and the constellations in the night sky. This changes every few days.
FIRE SIGNS are Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. This is a barren sign, good for harvesting (not planting), seed production, weeding, tilling, cleanup, and pest control.
EARTH SIGNS are Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. This sign is ideal for planting root crops.
AIR SIGNS are Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius. As the moon passes through these constellations in the night sky it is the best time to plant flowers.
WATER SIGNS are Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. These are the most fertile and productive signs of the Zodiac and are ideal for leaf growth.
As the moon passes in between the various constellations, it is considered “void of course” and it is a time for rest. This is clearly marked on the Gardening by the Moon calendar.
Scientific research has proven that the water in plants is affected by the phases of the moon. It is particularly true in plants grown in organic soils without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
As you learn to garden in harmony with the cycles of the moon, keep records. Try experiments and write down your results. Be observant and you will find that your garden will be very productive.
Consider this old adage:
'"With the waxing of the moon, the earth exhales.
With the waning of the moon, the earth inhales"