Gardening by the Moon Gardening by the Moon

Gardening according to the phases of the moon may seem like a new age idea, but in fact it is as old as cultivation. RJ Harris, author of RJ Harris' Moon Gardening, says it is the "oldest form of gardening known to man.”

Moon gardening was practiced by Pliny the Elder, and while it requires some knowledge of the moon’s phases, astrology and the lunar calendar, it is quite simple once you know the basics.

Quite simply, moon gardening says that there is a right and a wrong time to plant, according to the phases of the moon in its monthly passage round the earth. The moon goes through four phases (or quarters) each lasting about seven days.

The Phases of the Moon

The first two quarters, as the moon grows from a sliver to a full disc, is called the waxing moon. This is when the moon is increasing in size.

The second two quarters are when the moon is decreasing in size and is called the waning moon.

In the waxing period, from new to full moon, the tides in the oceans are high, as the waxing moon pulls upon the earth’s bodies of water.

The first quarter of this period (from new to half moon) is the best time to plant leafy crops with seed heads, such as lettuce and herbs, as the waxing moon also draws water up in the ground, encouraging the leafy growth. The second quarter (from half to full moon) is better for plants with enclosed seeds, such as beans, tomatoes and peas.

The first two phases of the moon signify growth and increase - if you want a more abundant lawn, or even more hair, cut only during the waxing phase.

The gravitational pull of the moon decreases in the waning period, and water is drawn down - the tides are lower.

In the third phase (from full to half moon) plant and tend to root crops such as carrots and potatoes.

Do not plant anything when the moon is in its fourth phase. The moon energy is at its weakest then, but you can tend to other jobs in the garden, such as digging new beds and cleaning tools, that don’t involve planting or transplanting. You can also try a bit of weeding - ancient wisdom says that plants pulled in the fourth quarter never grow back!

The Moons Relation to Astrological Signs

Knowing what astrological sign the moon is in during its passage round the earth is another bit of ancient wisdom that can help you create an abundant garden.

An astrological calendar will help you pinpoint the moon as it moves through the signs. Llewellyns Publishers (UK) put out an annual almanac which includes this information, and many gardening magazines also include it. Try to plant your crop in harmony with the moon’s astrological sign - you will only have to wait a couple of days for that to change, as the moon moves quickly through the 12 signs in a month.

The 12 signs are Aries, which is a poor time for planting, but a good time to harvest and store; Taurus, good for planting root vegetables; Gemini, a good time to harvest and store fruit; Cancer, an excellent time for planting and transplanting; Leo; good for harvesting and storing, good for attacking weeds and pests in the garden; Virgo, a good time for weeding and tidying up; Libra, the best time to plant fragrant flowers and herbs; Scorpio, another good planting sign, especially for thick vines and pulpy fruits; Sagittarius, a good time to dig over the soil or just take a short vacation; Capricorn, Good for working in the garden and planting root vegetables; Aquarius, good for harvesting but not much else; and Pisces, again good for planting, and tending flower gardens.

With a good astrological calendar you can time your activities in the garden to coincide with the beneficial phases and signs of the moon - for example, to create a flourishing flower garden, you would plant your seeds when the moon is in the first quarter and in a flower friendly sign like Libra.

But even if you can’t get the hang of the astrological signs, simply following the phases of the moon to plan your gardening chores will make a big difference - and all you have to do is look up at the moon!

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