Gardening by the Moon
By Serina Marshall
“Moon gardening is simply learning to garden according the moon’s phases. Sowing and harvesting in harmony with the flow of moisture as it is drawn up the plant into the stem and leaves, fruit and seeds. Or down into the root zone with the gravitational pull of the moon.” – Anne Gibson
When it comes to planting, most people think of the ground for doing such. However, those that swear by the moon to plant their crops, also use the sky to help their harvest. Gardening by the moon is a certain blueprint used for over 200-years. Those that garden by this map rely on the position and phases of the moon to plant seeds, weed, and prune. Not only is gardening by the moon an event many, who follow its guidelines in the Farmer’s Almanac, live by, there are also very specific dates they use to do so. All growing zones follow the dates that are intended for planting. Because of this, you can’t really change the moon, so sometimes you have to take in account weather or climate for the best growing environments. Many greenhouses follow these same methods, so if you are unsure of when to begin, you can always check with your local greenhouse to ensure you hit the optimal window for these suggestions.
Lunar planting is something that farmers practice and trust as a science in its own right. Farmers feel that because of these formulas, their crops and harvests are tastier and more plentiful. So, what is it about the phases of the moon that make it so incredibly important to those that plant by it? One key part is that the gravitational pull of the moon causes the soil to increase in moisture during the new moon and full moon. Because of this, it assists in germination and growth. During the new and full moon, the tides are at their peak, and in the way the moon pulls the tides of the ocean, it pulls the water up from the earth so it is closer to the soil. With the increase of the moonlight, the growth of the leaves and roots also increases.
If you are looking to plant flowers by the same moon cycle, you will want to plant your annual flowers, fruits, and veggies that bear crops above ground (such as tomatoes, zucchini, corn, etc) during the waxing of the moon, from the day it is new to the day it is full. When planting flowering bulbs, biennial, and perennial flowers, and veggies that produce crops below ground (such as potatoes, carrots, onions, etc) during the waning of the moon, from the day after it is full to the day before it is new again. Seeds during this time will swell, burst, and sprout. The seeds absorb more water during the full moon and new moon, thus why they are the two main phases followed for lunar planting.
Moon phase gardening follows two specific periods of the lunar cycle: the time between the new Moon and the full Moon (the waxing of the Moon), and the time between the full Moon and the new Moon (the waning of the Moon). It is said that the best to plant certain types of plants is during the waning of the Moon and others during the waxing.
Another way that the moon impacts growth is through geotropism. This is how plants grow in response to gravity. Roots grow into the earth, or downward, in the direction of the gravitational pull, where stems grow upward in the opposite direction. Potted plants are a good way to see this example in action. If you lay a potted plant on its side, the roots will grow upward on the inside of the pot. Tulip bulbs are another example of geotropism. If you plant the bulb with the pointed end down instead of up, the roots will turn around and head upward. Just as the gravitational pull has an impact on the water within the soil rising to the surface, it also has the same effect on roots and stems within the ground, or as we have explained, in pots as well.
The exact amount of moonlight during these waxing and waning phases influences the growth of plants. While the moonlight increases (new moon and second quarter), leaf growth is stimulated. After the full moon, the amount of light decreases, placing energy into the roots of the plants. During this time, the leaf growth above the ground decreases.
Because of this, it becomes a favorable time to plant your bulbs and root crops, due to the increased root activity. Due to these phases, seeds seem to germinate sooner. The plants that grow also appear to be healthier and tend to grow faster. The harvest that is produced with these moon cycles are more plentiful and stronger. Because of this strength, bugs and pests tend to not come around the specific yields as often. This will not only save you money on pest control, but also on frustration and worry.
To get the most out of lunar planting, there is a calendar that you can use that gives you the dates for the best times to plant various things. The Moon Calendar divides the 28-day lunar cycle into 6 separate gardening periods. It explains the optimal days for planting different crops, when to harvest, propagate, prune, fertilize, and cultivate. The Farmers Almanac provides the best days for your specific area and region. It will provide you with when you should plant different flowers, fruits, veggies, and crops. Not only that, it will also tell you when to start the seeds indoors and when to transplant them and move them outside. All you do is enter your zip code and it will give you day by day instructions for what to plant and when. To utilize this calendar, go to https://www.almanac.com/gardening/planting-calendar/zipcode.
Lunar planting is a trend that has been around for decades. If it didn’t work, farmers and others would not swear by the phases and the cycles. The proof of its success is in the crops and flowers themselves. They are stronger, healthier, and just tend to look and taste better. If you are looking for a better way to produce what you enjoy, look to the moon.