Planting by the moon using Moon Phases: Haven’t you ever wondered why it is that you are successful some years with your vegetable or flower planting, and other times you have failed miserably? No matter how careful you were the end results are pathetic and miserable specimens that weren’t worth the effort. Moon planting, or planting by the moon, as it is also known, has been a method of gardening practiced by the most ancient of cultures. They knew when to plant and when to harvest, because they planted by watching the lunar phases and so created moon gardens long before it became the popular practice it has become today.
My elderly mother swears by planting by the moon, and I have to say she seems to have a green thumb. For those of you who are skeptical, don’t be, because you cannot denounce something you haven’t tried. And once you investigate moon gardening you will be, forevermore, a convert! For those of you who already practice organic gardening, by moon planting, you are really just adding another string to your bow, because they go hand in hand, along with companion planting.
We are all in agreement that the moon has a powerful effect on the tides. We will also attest that the moon can also adversely affect people and their behavior. People weren’t called “lunatics’ for nothing! It is also believed that the moon affects the earth’s vegetation in different ways depending on the phase of the moon at any one time of the month. with the moon completing a cycle every 29 1/2 days, and although there are 8 phases of the moon, for gardening purposes the moon phases are divided into 4 quarters; new moon, 1st quarter, full moon, 3rd quarter, new moon. The new moon will actually be a dark period where you will not see any moon at all.
When you are looking at the moon from the Northern Hemisphere, you will see the phases as below. However, if you are looking at the phases of the moon from the Southern Hemisphere, you will see the reverse. That is the waxing 1st quarter will will remind us of the letter “C” and the waning 3rd quarter will remind us of the letter “D”.
Phases of the moon as seen from the Northern Hemisphere. From left: new moon, crescent, first quarter, full moon, last quarter, crescent, new moon.
Planting by the moon for those of you living in the Northern Hemisphere
Phases of the moon as seen from the Southern Hemisphere. From left: new moon, crescent, first quarter, full moon, last quarter, crescent, new moon.
To make moon planting really simple, when the moon is a new moon, this is not the time to plant anything. However, just after you see the first crescent you can start planting as this is when there is a surge of energy through the plants and the sap begins to rise through the stems. The best zodiac signs to plant during the first quarter is when the moon is in a water sign, such as Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces.
When the moon is waxing towards the first quarter, that is when the light of the moon is increasing from a new to a full moon, this is the time to plant leafy crops, cereals, grains and other crops and flowers that produce growth above the ground. You can start to sow seeds, transplant seedlings and graft plants when the moon is waxing. When the moon is in the first quarter and is moving towards a full moon you can also plant ground crops that have inside seeds such as tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers etc. It is also the time to plant annuals and flowers that you want to produce showy and fragrant flowers such as roses. The last two days of the first quarter, just before the full moon is considered an ideal time for grafting fruit trees. Again the best zodiac signs for sowing and planting your moon garden are during the first quarter when the moon is in a water sign, such as Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces.
When the moon is a full moon all plants are at their peak. However, over the next two weeks as the moon loses its light it also loses its energy and the moon is waning to the third quarter. This is the time to harvest your crops, your herbs, especially medicinal herbs which will be more potent if picked at this time, mushrooms, grapes and of course it is the time to prune. This is the time to plant crops and flowers that produce growth below the ground such as root crops, tubers and bulbs and for flowers, your biennials and perennials, and the perennials can be divided now too. Therefore it is time to plant onions, potatoes, carrots, swedes, turnips, beets, parsnips and radishes. It is also the time to plant trees, fruit trees and saplings towards the end of the waning period and any spraying of fruit trees should be done during this period of the moon phase. You can also plant strawberries and their runners out now and if you have any vegetables or fruit that will have to be stored for a long period of time, such as apples, potatoes, pumpkins etc. if you pick them now they won’t rot as quickly.
During the last or fourth quarter this is a barren phase for moon gardening where it more prudent to do some tidying up in your garden, pull the weeds, see to the compost heap, spread the manure and turn over the beds. Now wait for the first crescent of the new moon to plant new seeds.
In its lunar cycle the moon passes through 12 unequal sectors derived from the stellar constellations, referenced by zodiac signs. Each constellation is associated with one of 4 categories, representing the 4 Elements; Air, Water, Fire and Earth.
In addition, it is believed that as the moon spends time in each zodiac sign, these astrological signs of the zodiac are also influential. When gardening by the moon, planting seeds for annuals are best when planted when the moon is in a fire sign. Fire signs are Aries, Leo and Sagittarius. Wheat, corn, squash, peas, beans, tomatoes and all fruit are best planted here.
The best time to plant flowering plants is when the moon is in an Air sign. Flowers planted when the moon is in Gemini, Libra or Aquarius will result in showy, fragrant blooms. Root crops should be planted when the moon is in an Earth sign. Therefore when the moon is in Taurus, Virgo or Capricorn carrots, turnips, swedes, beetroots, potatoes etc. will benefit from being grown during this moon phase.
Finally, when the moon is in Cancer, Scorpio or Virgo this is the time to plant leafy vegetables. Cabbage, lettuce, spinach, silver beet, grasses and cress will do best when planted during this time.