As someone who personally feels the effects of the moon (I get very ADD during the New Moon), I’ve always suspected that moon phases had a greater impact on living things than could be easily explained. After researching when to start seeds indoors, I stumbled across the good ol’ Farmer’s Almanac, and was surprised that they cited the “moon-favorable dates” on their planting chart. This warranted research. What was this lunar gardening?
We’ve long understood how the moon affects the tides, so it is no wonder that it affects plants, whose main mechanisms for growth are the transport of water and the utilization of sunlight through photosynthesis. Gardening by moon phase (a component of what is referred to as Biodynamic Gardening) is as old as agriculture itself. During the New Moon, when the gravitational pull is the greatest, the moon aids in pulling water up toward a seedling’s roots. Apparently, seeds will absorb the most moisture during the time of the full moon. Now, for those of us in the Pacific Northwest, there is certainly no shortage of spring moisture. That said, this technique may not make any visible difference for those where moisture is not an issue. Our ground is fairly soggy until June most years. But, for those in areas where spring rain is less abundant, why not give it a try?
From the article Celestial Gardening, Organic Gardening.com:
“One backyard gardener who’s convinced is Richard Makowski of River Vale, New Jersey. Makowski says he tried the biodynamic planting calendar a few years ago “for the heck of it”—and saw his winter squash yields triple. “My wife says the vegetables are sweeter,” he says, taking a break from planting a bed at the Pfeiffer garden. “I didn’t even believe this stuff at first. And maybe you don’t have to. But I’ve never met a gardener who isn’t spiritual on some level.”
Unfortunately, I planted my kohlrabi and sweet peas on Saturday, which was a waning moon. On the bright side, it appears to be a good time to plant trees, so the lilac transplant I have planned for next weekend will be right in sync – as long as it’s still waning. Wow, I need an app for this!
What I surmised from my brief research stint:
- The New Moon is the best time for planting crops that produce seeds outside their fruit (leafy greens, grains, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.)
- The second quarter is best for crops whose seeds are formed inside the fruit (tomatoes, beans, peas, etc.)
- Mow lawns in the first and second quarters to encourage growth, and in the third and fourth quarters to retard growth.
- The 4th quarter is a time for pruning, composting, and general maintenance. Not good for planting.
- Anything that grows primarily above the ground (beans, peas, squash) should get planted in a waxing phase.
- Anything that grows primarily below the ground (potatoes, turnips, onions, carrots) should be planted in the waning phase.
Here are a few sites I found intriguing when reading about the topic, which may just encourage you to pursue additional research:
The Gardeners’ Calendar is an interesting site that outlines the 3 moon planting methods, including a 7 day running calendar summarizing what to do, and what not to do.
Farming by the Moon, from the Farmers’ Almanac
Is biodynamic the new organic? – News article from The Telegraph, UK