Gardening With the Phases of the Moon
Gardening by the Phases of the Moon
When you are planning your garden this spring, consider planting, transplanting, and harvesting by the lunar cycle or what is known as the monthly phases of the moon. This is not a new topic but if you are a beginner in the world of gardening, it may be new to you! The practice of gardening and growing agricultural crops according to the waxing and waning of the moon has been followed for centuries all around the world. Ancient farming civilizations such as the Aztecs and Mayans were governed in their everyday life by the night sky and for the most part grew healthy and productive crops.
Every 29 ½ days the moon passes through four phases (technically 8) in the night sky. The new moon, the first quarter, the full moon and the third quarter… and repeat. The time between the new moon and the full moon is known as the waxing stage and the time between the full moon and the new moon is known as the waning stage.
Because of its close proximity to earth, the moon’s gravitational pull affects all living things. Most notable is its powerful effect on the ocean tides; causing them to rise and fall. It has the same effect on the soil’s moisture, causing water to rise toward the surface of the soil during the waxing phase and receding during the waning phase. It is also well known around the world that the gravitational pull of the moon affects plant growth at all stages from seeding and transplanting to pruning and harvest.
But what is waxing and waning? During the waxing phase, the gravitational pull of the moon slowly becomes stronger, resulting in the strongest pull when the moon is full. Ground water is pulled up to the soil’s surface. Seeds planted during this time will absorb the water, germinate and establish a strong root system. Now don’t think that you have to seed right on the day of the full moon – If possible, allow about three days planting time before the full moon. During the waxing it is best to plant flower, fruit and vegetable seed that will bear fruit above ground. For example: tomatoes, beans, corn, peas, spinach, celery, cabbage, and lettuce. During the full moon, the ‘moonlight’ is also at full strength. The moon does not generate light on its own. What we see as a beautiful round full moon is actually a reflection of the sun shining on the moon’s surface. As moonlight increases during a waxing moon phase, plants are encouraged to grow more leaves and stems.
During the waning of the moon, transplanting can be done and you can plant flowering bulbs, perennial flowers, and vegetables that bear crops below ground. For example: Onions, carrots, potatoes, parsnips, and beets. These plants are encouraged to grow roots, tubers and bulbs. The New Moon is not visible as the earth is entirely blocking the sun from reflecting onto the moon’s surface. The gravitational pull of the moon has slowly been getting weaker and the ground water recedes down through the levels of the soil profile.
The new moon is also known as the resting phase. During the resting phase you can fertilize, harvest, prune, mulch, compost, weed or mow the lawn!
Harvesting – The ideal time to harvest vegetables and fruits is when the lunar cycle is in the waxing phase. Garden crops harvested during this time will last longer in storage. The ideal time to harvest medicinal plants and herbs is in the waning stage. Herbs will taste better and medicinal plants will have more healing power.
As you can see, this just scratches the surface of all the information available on the basics of gardening by the moon’s phases. There is a wealth more information on the internet regarding this topic and I encourage you to read up and make use of this info and have fun trying it out! Keep a ‘Moon Garden Plan’ and involve the whole family. It is a great project for the kids to learn so many different aspects of gardening, astronomy, history, journaling and record keeping.
FYI – The Farmer’s Almanac Planting Calendar is an excellent source for local planting dates based on the moon’s phases and your postal codes average last frost dates. You must also take your particular climate or zone into account to get the full picture when planning. Do keep in mind that your area’s projected last and first frost dates are estimates only and it’s a good idea to keep a good eye on your local weather for day and especially, nighttime temperatures.
Lunar Cycles - May and June 2023
May - June
Full Moon - May 5, June 4
Last Quarter - May 12, June 10
New Moon - May 19, June 18
First Quarter - May 27, June 26
From the Full Moon to the New Moon (May 5 – 19) – the waning phases
(June 4-18) - the waning phases
From the New Moon to the Full Moon ( May 19 –June 4) – the waxing phases