Gardening by the light of the moon

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moon garden collage
Moon photo licensed under CC0 1.0 (Ivory Harlow photo)

Moon gardening is an ancient practice that has been passed from generation to generation for thousands of years. Its methods aim to optimize plant production by scheduling specific gardening activities during favorable moon phases.

Moon gardening 101

The gravitational force of the moon affects water movement on earth, causing high and low tides. Lunar garden lore claims the same gravitational force affects fluid movement in plants. The fluids in plants transport sugars and nutrients that are critical to plant growth. Moon gardening principles work with gravity to support plant development.

Examples:

  • Plant above-ground crops during the waxing moon when plant fluids are drawn up.
  • Plant root crops during the waning moon when fluids are drawn down.

Lunar cycle

You can purchase a lunar calendar or download a free app on your smartphone, but all you really need to practice lunar gardening is an eye for observation.

The lunar cycle has 29 ½ days and is divided into 4 quarters, each lasting 7-8 days.

  • The new moon begins the lunar cycle. The new moon is not illuminated.
  • The moon waxes, gradually increasing in illumination. Now is the time to plant above ground annuals and mow.
  • The full moon is fully illuminated.
  • The moon then wans, decreasing in illumination. It’s time to plant root crops and divide perennials. It’s also a good time to prune and take plant cuttings.
  • Do not plant or prune during the 12-hour transition from one quarter to the next. Spend the time weeding, tilling or mulching instead.
moon phases graphic
The moon’s cycle (Ivory Harlow graphic)

Does moon gardening work?

There is no scientific evidence that gardening with the moon phases produces superior plants, yet moon gardening has remained popular across cultures throughout time. Ancient Roman and Native American cultures honored moon gardening myth and tradition. More recently, biodynamic and permaculture principles affirm gravity influences seed germination and plant growth.

If you like trying new things to keep gardening fresh and fun, you might enjoy experimenting with moon methods in your garden. The Farmers’ Almanac and The Old Farmer’s Almanac publish annual moon gardening calendars and information.

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