Monday, March 28, 2011

Chapter 20 - Planting By The Moon

It's a beautiful night for a moon dance........

Plant perennials, biennials
 and bulbs during the
3rd quarter

Planting by the moon is an idea that's as old as agriculture itself.

Although based on sound scientific principles, planting by the moon is often dismissed as folklore or superstition.  The truth is that the earth is in a huge gravitational field that's influenced by both the sun and the moon.  There's no getting away from that.

We readily accept that the sun and the moon have a pull on the oceans because we can see the tides but that same gravitational pull is on all water including what we can't see like the water that's contained in plants and seeds.

The basic principle behind planting by the moon is simple. When the pull of the sun and the moon is strong, water rises. When water rises, growth is encouraged.  Plant when growth is encouraged and you'll have a better garden.
Let your garden rest
during the new moon

You can, of course, plant any time (and many successful gardeners do) but why not work with nature instead of against her?  You'll find the lunar dates for each month on most calendars.

The Lunar Month
The Cycle of Life

The lunar month starts with the new moon, also called "the dark of the moon".  The moon has four phases (or quarters) each about seven days.  They are:   New Moon, 1st Quarter, Full Moon and 3rd Quarter.

The Waxing Moon
From the new moon through the first quarter to the full moon, the moon gets bigger. It grows from a crescent to a full circle. This is called the "waxing" of the moon.

During the waxing of the moon, the sun's energy (its light) is reflected back onto the earth by the moon (like a mirror reflects light) instead of traveling out into space.  The tides are at their highest during this time and water activity is the strongest. Seeds swell with moisture and burst with energy. People, by the way, are 90% water so the waxing moon has an effect on them, too.

As the new moon moves into the first quarter, it's a good time to plant annual crops that produce seed outside the fruit like lettuce, spinach, celery, broccoli and grains. Cucumbers like this phase, too even though they are the exception to that rule.
Plant tomatoes as the
moon becomes full 

As the moon becomes full, plant annuals that produce their seeds inside the fruit like beans, melons, peas, peppers, squash and tomatoes.

The Waning of the Moon
At the full moon, the moon begins to grow smaller as it passes through the third quarter moon returning to the dark "new moon" completing the lunar cycle.  This is called the "waning" of the moon.

Plant root veggies like carrots
 and potatoes during
the 3rd quarter
 The 3rd Quarter is the time to plant root crops like beets, carrots, onions, potatoes, and peanuts also perennials, biennials and bulbs.

The new moon is a time of low gravitational pull and decreased moon light.  Mother Nature is resting. The new moon is the best time to cultivate, harvest, transplant and prune.

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