Planting by the Moon

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Planting by the Moon

I’ve been a gardener for well over 30 years and have intentionally planted by the moon from the very beginning. Going way back to my twenties when I started living my life as a country girl and planted my first garden in central Pennsylvania I looked to the moon for my guidance. Having studied astrology and the cycles of the moon years before learning to garden, I was astware of the profound influence the moon had on many aspects of  life, plant life included, so when I took up gardening it was natural to make the connection between the moon and its influence on earthly activities, especially agricultural pursuits. After all, hadn’t the ancients in every culture on every continuent used the heavenly sky to guide them in their agricultural endeavors? They had only the stars to guide them, no computers, almanacs, extension services or books. As for our current thinking on agricultural practices, the moon seems to have been left in the dark shall we say. Instinctively, even as a 20th century woman, I knew that to successfully plant anything, be it an idea, an intention, a tree or a seed, it would behoove me to use lunar cycles for optimal timing.  Timing, is afterall one of many tools used by skilled astrologers, and a good astrologer can be proficient at electing the appropriate time for the appropriate activity. Astrology is a matter of studying cycles. Choosing auspicious times for specific activities is one of the great tools of the trade. One doesn’t need to be an astrologer to plant by the moon. Anyone can do it easily.

Planting by the moon is as old as agriculture itself

The sun, the moon, the planets and the stars have provided a reference for measuring the passage of time throughout history. All cultures before recorded history charted the heavenly skies to make some sort of sense out of their environment. They paid special attention to the lunar phase when harvesting and planting crops. Following ancient traditions of connecting the spiritual world and the physical world reminds us that when we pay attention to the lunar cycles and the cosmic forces emanating from the sun, moon and the stars we are aligned with our intentions. 

Gardening and farming in harmony with the cycles of the moon puts us in touch with the natural energies of the cosmos which influence all life activities.

What I find most helpful about planting by the moon is that it brings a natural order and rhythm to my planting schedule. This helps me to plan my time during the busiest season of the year, the gardening season. Should I plant tomatoes or potatoes this week, annuals or perennials? Is this the best day to get my beans in or would it be better for root crops?

The lunar cycle provides me with the guidance and the choices of timing based on  its constant cadence, a repeated 28 day cycle of waxing and waning, as it revolves around the 12 signs of the zodiac each month. Time is precious, and there never seems to be enough of it, and with so much to be done in the garden and on the farm, electing appropriate times for gardening and farming activities is a worthwhile endeavor. When we elect specific times for specific activities, we are working with natural cycles and there is wisdom in working with the cosmic forces. The definition of the word disaster originally meant an unfavorable aspect of the stars or going against the stars. When we are working with natural forces, intending favorable outcomes, we work with the planetary influences. I think of planting by the moon as intentional gardening. The time and effort put into growing food, medicine and flowers deserves the most positive outcomes, healthy and abundant plants. 

The Principles of Lunar Gardening

There are 2 simple principles to lunar gardening and they are easy to learn and apply.               There are many apps, almanacs and calendars to choose from so applying lunar gardening to your life is quite easy.  The app I like is called Deluxe Moon, and who knows, I may even return to publishing my “Planting and Living by the Moon” calendar someday.

Once you get into the rhythm of the moon cycles you eventually sense the flow of time instinctively. Following the moon’s placement in sign and phase, and a basic understanding of botany is all you need to know to get started. 

Let’s Start With Basic Botany

When we plant depends on what we are planting

Annuals: The plant lives its entire lifecycle in one growing season. A few examples of annual flowers are marigolds, geraniums, zinnias, petunias and sunflowers. Examples of annual vegetables are leafy greens, broccoli, tomatoes, and grains.

Biennials:  is a flowering plant that takes two years to complete its biological life cycle. Examples of biennial flowers are foxglove, hollyhocks, black eyed susans, and dianthus.

Perennials: Plants that lives three or more years. These plants survive winter weather by means of vigorous root systems, bulbs, corms, rhizomes, tubers, or other root/stem modifications. Examples of hardy perennials include tulip, lily, daylily, peony, and chrysanthemum. Tender perennials include dahlia, gladiolus, and canna.
Shrubs, trees and bushes are all perennials.

Root Plants: The part of the plant being eaten is actually the plant's root. Examples of root vegetables include carrots, beets, garlic, turnips, potatoes, rutabaga, onions and sweet potatoes. 

Bulbs: such as tulips and daffodils

Flowers: Flowers can be grown as annuals, perennials and bulbs.

SOLAR TIME VS LUNAR TIME

Solar time represents the seasons

It is natural to plant with the seasons, in tune with the Sun.

The seasons naturally order the timing of planting and harvesting, we plant in the Spring and harvest in the Fall, in synchronicity with the cycle of the Sun.

In Spring energy moves up from the Earth. Sap rises, trees bud, bulbs burst from the ground and dormant energy comes into full power.

In Autumn energy wanes and flows downwards, back into the Earth. We plant bulbs and trees to take advantage of this energy, strengthening root growth.

LUNAR TIME

The moon travels around the earth every 28-29 days staying in each sign for approximately 2.5 days.  A lunar month is the time it takes the Moon to orbit once around Earth. Did you know the word month is derived from the word Moon?

  Lunar gardening divides the lunar month into 4 primary phases:

  • New Moon

  • 1st Quarter

  • Full Moon

  • Last Quarter

The average time between each primary Moon phase is around 7 days (which is considered the origin for the 7-day week).

Planting by the moon requires simply knowing the phases of the moon and the astrological sign the moon is in each day. 

PLANTING BY THE SIGN OF THE MOON DETERMINES THE BEST RESULTS FOR EVERY ACTIVITY.

PLANTING BY THE MOON

 The Phases 

The Waxing and Waning Moon

 DIVIDE THE LUNAR MONTH INTO 4 PRIMARY PHASES

The waxing moon occurs between the new and the full moon.
The waning moon occurs between the full and the new moon.
When the moon is waxing it is in its first and second quarters of the cycle.
When the moon is waning it is in its third and fourth quarters of the cycle.

Plant above ground crops during a waxing moon

New moon

When the moon begins her monthly journey she  is between 0-90 degrees of her cycle. The sun and the moon are in the same zodiac sign. Light is increasing and it is a time for new beginnings, a time of germination and emergence. The lunar gravity pulls water up, causing the seeds to swell and burst. This is considered to be the best time to plant annual crops that produce their yield aboveground, producing their seeds outside the fruit. 

Examples: 

  • Lettuce and all leafy greens 

  • Spinach, 

  • Celery 

  • Broccoli 

  • Cabbage 

  • Cauliflower 

  • Grain crops. 

  • Cucumbers like this phase also, even though they are an exception to that rule.

First quarter 

During the first quarter moon, when the moon is halfway between new and full, 90-180 degrees into her cycle. Light continues growing and energy continues moving upwards. Energy is concentrating in the growth of stems and leaves now. We continue planting annuals producing their yield above ground but now it is best for plants which produce their seed inside the fruit.  Ideally sow seeds 2 days before the full moon.

Examples: 

  • Beans

  • Melons

  • Peas

  •  Peppers

  •  Squash

  •  Tomatoes 

  • Eggplants

  • Vining plants

Transplant and repot plants, take cuttings to be repotted at the nest waxing moon phase, water and fertilize plants, and collect fruits or vegetables meant to be eaten immediately during the waxing moon.Mow during the waxing moon to increase growth.

Plant below ground crops when the moon is waning

Full Moon

At  the time of the full moon we are halfway through the lunar month, now between 180-270 degrees into its cycle. Light is at its fullest. The moon begins to wane, and energy begins drawing down. The gravitational pull is high, the moonlight is decreasing, putting energy into the roots. This is a favorable time for planting root crops.

Examples:

  • Beets

  •  Carrots

  • Onions 

  • Potatoes 

  • Peanuts 

  • Garlic

It is also good for planting: 

  • Perennials 

  • Biennials

  • Bulbs 

  • Trees

  • Shrubs

  • Bushes 

  • Grapevines

Transplanting at this time is recommended because of the active root growth.
Pruning is best done during this phase, particularly good in the sign of Scorpio.

Last quarter

During the last quarter, the moon is halfway between full and new, 270-360 degrees into her cycle. Energy is weakening and light is waning, returning to the darkness of the new moon. This is considered a resting period. No planting should be done during this quarter. This time is best spent:

  • Cultivating

  • Plowing

  • Pruning 

  • Preparing beds and fields for planting

  • Weeding

  • Mowing for decreased growth

  • Starting or spreading compost

  • Trimming trees

  • Eradicating  pests (naturally)

  • Cutting wood for burning

  • Picking fruits for canning

  • Digging holes and foundations

  • Pouring  concrete 

  • Laying stone paths

  • Setting fence posts

  • Doing all projects where energy is going to be rooted

  • Best for rest and reflection

Set aside time to rest and rejuvenate, reflect on the work that has been accomplished and plan for the new phase to come.

The second aspect of lunar gardening is choosing the appropriate
sign according to element.  

PLANTING BY THE TWELVE SIGNS OF THE ZODIAC

THE 12 SIGNS ARE CLASSIFIED BY THE 4 ELEMENTS

FIRE, EARTH, AIR AND WATER

Fire and air signs are considered masculine and barren, unsuitable for planting activities but suitable for mowing, cultivating, plowing, harvesting, building, cutting wood, drying herbs, etc. The exception to this is flowers, which benefit when planted when the moon is in the air sign Libra as it is  Venus ruled.

Fire signs: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
Air signs: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
Earth and water signs
are considered feminine and productive, suitable for all planting activities. 
Earth signs: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
Water signs: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

Growth cycle of plants have also been associated with the elements further influencing the sign we choose to plant under.

Earth Signs- Influence the development of roots

Water Signs-Influence the development of leaves

Air Signs-Influence the development of flowers

Fire Signs-influence the development of fruit (seeds)

These are the basic tenets of planting by the moon. 

The moon phase changes weekly, the sign changes every 2 ½ days, so we are working with an ever changing set of opportunities to choose from.

Combining the phase and sign of the moon for gardening activities is ideal. If you had to make a choice between the sign or the phase of the moon I would suggest choosing the phase. Gravitational pull affects the flow of moisture in soil and plants and so if I had to choose due to limited time I always go with phase. 

Planting by the moon connects us to both the mother earth and the celestial influences which affect all living things. We can think of ourselves as conduits between earth and sky, working in a balanced way in harmony with the cosmos when we pay attention to the cosmic forces when working in agricultural (and many other) activities. I believe this enable us to enhance our efforts and focus our energies on the tasks at hand, ultimately creating better outcomes. “Good food is a prerequisite for spiritual growth” - Rudolf Steiner.

For more information please contact me at sue@suesalves.com


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