Sunday, April 12, 2009
Gardening by the Moon, Part One, The Phases of the Moon
What was once old is now made new
I have said a number of times my love of gardening was handed down by my grandmother and father. I vividly remember when I was young, my grandmother waiting until just the right time to plant,according to the moons phase, and the signs of the zodiac. Was it a new moon? This was the best time to plant above ground annual crops. After the full moon? In go the root crops such as onions and potatoes. My Dad often consulted the Farmers Almanac to see when to plant.
The resurgence of organic and natural gardening has reignited a growing interest in lunar gardening. Added to an arsonal of weapons such as composting, companion planting, and organic fertilizer, planting by the moon can significantly effect the harvest and quality of the vegetable garden People may mistakenly think this idea is rooted in folklore or superstition, but there is actually science to back it up.
The Earth is in a huge gravitational field. As the Moon travels around the earth, it's gravitational pull on the earth creates the daily tides, and also affects the smaller bodies of water, including moisture in the soil.
During the new moon, the tides are at their highest. The Sun and Moon are lined up with the Earth. This is the first quarter and one of the two waxing phases. Seeds germinate easily, so it is the best time for planting, specifically annuals that produce their yield above ground, and their seeds outside the fruit. Examples would include: lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, celery, and grain crops. Cucumbers are one exception to this rule. Any activity that relates to growth and expansion should be undertaken in the waxing phase or the time between the two phases before the full moon.
The second quarter is another waxing phase, occurring immediately after the new moon. The second quarter produces good leaf growth, and is the ideal time to plant annuals that produce their yield above the ground, with their seeds inside the fruit. These would include beans, melons, peas, peppers, squash and tomatoes. Vining plants can also be planted during this time.
Any vegetable picked that is for immediate use should be picked during the waxing phase.
This is the third quarter. The full moon is the waning period of the moon, or the time it's energy is drawing down. The moonlight is decreasing, and putting energy into the roots of plants. This is the time to plant root crops such as potatoes, onions, beets, carrots, and peanuts. Perennials, biennials, bulbs, shrubs and trees should be planted during this waning phase. Transplanting should be done during this time due to active root growth taking place, as well as pruning.
Due to the decreased gravitational pull and moonlight, this period is considered to be a resting period. You can cultivate, harvest, prune, weed, spray and transplant during this time. Drying, preserving, conserving your harvest is best done during the waning phase of the moon.
Also, mow your lawn during the 3rd and 4th quarter, as growth will be slowed during this time.
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