Gardening By the Moon


Planting gardens by the phases of the Moon is a method practiced in rural communities for over two thousand years. To some extent we all garden within the cycle of the sun. Our first and last frost dates are examples of this. Based both in folklore and superstition, planting by the phases of the moon has proven successful because there are scientific ideas to back it up The Earth is in a large gravitational field, influenced by both the sun and moon. The tides are highest at the time of the new and the full moon, when sun and moon are lined up with earth. Just as the moon pulls the tides in the oceans, it also pulls upon the subtle bodies of water, causing moisture to rise in the earth, which encourages germination and growth. Using the old methods seeds germinate faster. Plants are hardier and more disease-resistant. They blossom sooner and bear more fruit. Just as importantly, they better resist the stress of harsh weather, drought and insect infestation. The moon has four phases or quarters lasting about seven days each.

First Quarter - New moon to waxing crescent (increasing in size). At the new moon, the lunar gravity pulls water up, and causes the seeds to swell and burst. This factor, coupled with the increasing moonlight creates balanced root and leaf growth. This is the time of most leaf growth, a good time to plant leafy greens such as spinach, lettuce, or chard.

Second Quarter - Half to full moon. In the second quarter the gravitational pull is less, but the moonlight is strong, creating strong leaf growth. It is generally a good time for planting, especially two days before the full moon. The types of crops that prefer the second quarter are annuals that produce above ground, but their seeds form inside the fruit, such as beans,  melons, peas, peppers, squash, and tomatoes. Mow lawns in the first or second quarter to increase growth.

Third Quarter - Full moon to waning crescent. The time of most growth. During the full moon, transplant perennials, biennials and berries. As the moon wanes, the energy is drawing down. The gravitation pull is high, creating more moisture in the soil, but the moonlight is decreasing, putting energy into the roots. This is a favorable time for planting root crops, bulbs, corms, rhizomes and tubers.

Fourth Quarter - Half to new moon. In the fourth quarter there is decreased gravitational pull and moonlight, this is the best time to prune or cut wood, dig, hoe or cultivate.

Around the world, people plant, transplant, cultivate and harvest by the phases of the moon. The rules for harvesting are quite simple: Plants that grow and blossom above ground should be picked in the moon's first two phases, and root crops should be harvested while the moon is waning (decreasing in size).

New Moon - A time of leaf growth. Plants grow outward and upward as the moon and the sun pull from the same side of the earth. 

Full Moon - A time of root growth. Plants grow down and inward.

Planting by the moon is an idea as old as agriculture, when our rural ancestors planted by the phases of the Moon, they were not acting out of ignorance or superstition. They were making a deliberate attempt to align their actions with the natural cycles of the Earth.


Plant bean seeds with the scar side facing down; bean roots grow into the ground out of the scar point. Planting them all this way means they will surface at about the same time.


For best results, apply a layer of mulch in the spring after the soil has warmed. A good rule of thumb is to wait until seedlings are up and growing, since putting down mulch too early may prevent the ground from warming up sufficiently for heat-loving plants. For effective weed control, apply organic mulch about 4-6 inches thick. Take care not to pile the mulch against the stems of the plant as this can promote rot. As the mulch thins and decays during the growing season, replenish it. When you put the garden to bed for the winter, till the organic mulch into the ground; it will continue to break down during the cold months, improving the soil's nutrient value and structure. 



For an effective way to keep cuttings constantly moist while they root, first fill a 6-inh clay pot with moistened soiless growing medium. Plug the drainage holes of a 3-inch clay pot and set it on top of the medium. Fill the space between th pots with more of the growing medium and tamp lightly. Plant the cuttings in the larger pot, then fill the smaller pot with water, it will seep through the pot and water your cuttings.


"Like a big mountain, a small garden stimulates, restores, and delights us, just as it poses challenges, promotes mastery, provides exercise and relieves


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