Gardening by the moon – When to plant based on moon phases
Have you ever considered trying gardening by the moon? Maybe you didn’t even know that such a thing existed? Whether moon gardening is a new notion for you or not, we’re here to lay out the basics and discuss some of the most important things to bear in mind when gardening by the phases of the moon.
Folklore and superstition, or scientifically validated?
Gardening by the moon is actually one of the oldest agricultural techniques recorded. Despite its age, modern science has been able to validate the benefits of gardening by the moon by tracing the specific effects of certain natural elements on plant growth, including soil moisture and gravitational pull.
Everyone’s heard about gravity, right? And we all know that the Earth’s gravitational pull, influenced by the sun and the moon, is so powerful that it actually controls the tides. Every month, we experience both a new and a full moon. It’s at these times when the sun and moon are carefully aligned with the Earth and when the tides of the planet’s oceans are at their highest. If the moon can pull on the immense bodies of water that make up our oceans, then it can certainly pull on the smaller, subtler bodies of water found in our soils. The moon pulls and the water in our gardens’ soils rises to the surface. This, in turn, encourages plants to grow.
In fact, planting by the phases of the moon should help to encourage plant growth and increase yield. This is because when you plant your seeds during a full moon, you’re placing them in soils full of moisture. It’s the time of the month when they get the best opportunity to absorb the largest quantities of water possible. Cool, right? Wait… there’s more…
The four quarters of the moon
Each quarter of the moon lasts for around seven days, which means there are four moon gardening phases to get to grips with every month. They’re conveniently named: New Moon, 2nd Quarter Moon, Full Moon, and 4th Quarter Moon. That’s right. The Full Moon isn’t at the end of the month, but in fact somewhere between the middle and the end.
The New Moon
As mentioned above, as we enter the New Moon phase we can expect the moon’s gravitational pull to be at its greatest. It pulls water in the soil up toward the surface and encourages seeds to swell, roots to extend, and leaves to grow. The New Moon is by far the best opportunity for planting any kind of plant or crop that grows above ground, including lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage.
2nd Quarter Moon
As we move into the second quarter of the moon’s cycle, the gravitational pull weakens a little. This means there’s less water available to the plants, but there’s also a lot more moonlight. The moonlight from a 2nd Quarter Moon is pretty bright, which is why it helps to encourage healthy leaf growth and flowering. If you didn’t manage to plant during the New Moon, take the opportunity to do so during the 2nd Quarter Moon, particularly if you’re growing annual crops like beans, peas, peppers, and tomatoes.
A little insider tip: if you plant during the 2nd Quarter Moon, right before the Full Moon in the third quarter, your plants will benefit from the greatest amount of moisture available.
As we enter into the third quarter, also known as the Full Moon, the amount of moonlight begins to wane and the levels of energy slowly reduce. It’s useful for gardeners to be aware of this shift in energy, because it’s when they should be directing all their attention to their plants’ roots. All those kinds of crops that develop underground, like beets, carrots, and potatoes, do well when planted during the Full Moon. If you’re thinking about transplanting any of your plants, wait for the Full Moon to kick in, because the downward pulling energy will better encourage active root growth. So simple, right?
4th Quarter Moon
As the moon moves into its final phase, your garden will find itself entering into a kind of resting period. Gravitational pull is low, the strength of the moonlight has significantly decreased, and so plants have the chance to sit, regroup, and prepare for the active energy phase of the next New Moon. This resting period offers an excellent opportunity to harvest, to fertilize, or to prune. Consider this your moment to do a little housekeeping and get that garden ready for its next moon cycle.
Pulling everything together
Naturally, you don’t have to discard your present gardening techniques to fit in with the gardening phases of the moon. You can, instead, simply find ways of incorporating the effects of the moon cycle into your current cultivation plan. Give it a try for a couple of months and see whether it actually helps to keep your seeds, plants, and roots a little happier. And remember, if you need more advice, just contact us. We’re here to help.