Be In Tune With The Moon…for your garden’s success!
BY MODEL GARDENER KELLY EMBERG
You might think I am a little looney when I tell you gardening by lunar cycles could benefit your garden. I have been growing vegetables for a decade and never thought stages of the moon could boost my plants’ health and guarantee a bumper harvest. The Farmer’s Almanac is a believer and many of our ancestors have had successes, so I might as well give it a try this season!
Don’t worry, being in tune with the moon doesn’t mean you need to start gardening at dusk, even though some diehard gardeners actually do! Where the moon is in relationship to the sun notifies the gardener what to plant and when. Following the moon phases will bring you closer to nature’s patterns and success in your garden.
Unfortunately, most gardeners have lost sight of this age-old tradition. The truth be told, lunar planting has been practiced by farmers dating back thousands of years. Civilizations from the Nile and Euphrates River valleys have gardened by the moon. Some scientists might balk at this theory but the proof is in the harvest; ask any lunar gardener!
HOW IT WORKS
THE MOON’S PHASES
The Moon revolves around the Earth every 28 days reflecting differing amounts of sun depending on its angle toward the light of the sun. Lunar phases pivot from the New Moon through to the Full Moon and back again. Each time this occurs there are four phases or quarters, each lasting 7 days. The first two quarters is considered the “waxing stage” when the moon is dark and the light becomes increasingly visible until the moon is full. The last 2 quarters are considered the “waning stage”, when the full moon’s light starts to decrease until there isn’t any light on the moon; this is called the New Moon. Then the cycle starts all over again.
LET THERE BE LIGHT!
The theory is that the moon’s gravitational influence effects rise and fall of the tides as well as the soil moisture, plant sap and water table. When the moon is full, lunar gravity pulls the tides up and draws the moisture of the earth up towards the surface. The extra moisture in the soil encourages the seed to swell, burst and sprout. Timing has a major effect on the seeds’ success of germination.
The light from the moon also influences the growth of your plants. The first 2 quarters, the moon is in its waxing stage. The increasing light stimulates the plant’s growth and its leaves. This is the best time to plant annuals that bear their fruit above ground.
During the 3rd and 4th quarters, when the full moon’s light begins to decrease or wane, energy goes to the plant’s roots and the gravitational pull draws the moisture and the plant’s roots down. The growth of the leaves slow down, making it the optimum time to plant your root crops and bulbs.
There are times when you shouldn’t plant at all. Never plant during the full moon and new moon; they are considered “barren” signs. Avoiding planting on the first and last quarter days is also a lunar gardening practice.
- Waxing moon – plant leafy greens or plants that grow above ground.
- Waning moon – plant root or bulb plants.
Pick fruits and vegetables that you intend to eat right away. Because the water content of the ingredients is higher, salads are crunchier during the waxing moon.
- During the first quarter, from the new moon to the half- full moon, plant above ground annuals, particularly leafy plants which produce their seed outside the fruit. Examples: asparagus, cabbage, celery, endive, and spinach.
- During the second quarter, from the half-full moon to the full moon, plant annuals that grow above ground; vine and produce seed inside the fruit. Examples: beans, peas, peppers, squash, eggplant, tomatoes, and cucumbers.
You can plant garlic, melons, hay, and grains and cereals, in either the first or second quarter.
TIP: During periods of drought, sow seeds when the moon is waxing, as close to the full moon as possible.
- During the entire waning phase, sow root vegetables. Examples: beets, radishes, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, onions and turnips.
- During the third quarter, from the full moon to half-full moon, plant bulb and root crops; any crops which are planted in one season to winter produce yields the following year. Examples: onions, potatoes, rhubarb, grapes and berries.
- During the fourth quarter, from half-full to new moon, cultivate, pull weeds and destroy pests.
TIP: During the dark of the moon, plants should rest. This is a good time to kill weeds because they won’t grow back.
BENEFITS OF MOON GARDENING
- Seeds germinate sooner which speeds up harvest time. Root veggies and bulbs break the soil much quicker.
- Plants grow faster. They are healthier, larger, more robust.
- Higher yields.
- Less problems with pests because plants are stronger and healthier.
LUNAR PLANTING FOR MARCH & APRIL
Planting by the moon it is a good practice to find the right times to plant. I have figured out when you should plant during the months of March and April. (see chart )
Old-time farmers swear that gardening by the moon gives their plants their best start, producing a larger, tastier and healthier harvest. You might be a skeptic, but unless you give it a shot you will never know! Once you see how the moon’s magnetic energy works miracles on your garden, you will be a believer. I am always up for a challenge, so this spring I will be getting in tune with the moon! Won’t you join me?
Check out The Farmer’s Almanac website for more information on Gardening by the moon. www.almanac.com
Kelly Emberg, the model gardener
For more gardening tips, follow me on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube & Twitter.