Gardening by the moon

by Lila Das Gupta

I've been meaning to try moon gardening for some time, and now - thanks to the encouragement and guidance of a friend on the plot - I think I've mastered the rudimentary principles...

The full moonHave you ever thought about gardening by the phases of the moon? I've been meaning to try moon gardening for some time, and now - thanks to the encouragement and guidance of a friend on the plot - I think I've mastered the rudimentary principles, which I'll pass on to you now.

In a nutshell, people who garden by the phases of the moon believe that its gravitational pull on the earth's water (i.e. tides), has a bearing on plant growth. They never plant anything when the moon is waning in the last quarter because it's believed that the earth's water table is receding. After the new moon, the water table rises again and planting can resume. Farmers on the continent have been using moon phases to guide them for years, as indeed have many gardeners in the UK.

You don't need to spend money on any special equipment. My friend directed me towards, from which you can print out universal lunar calendars for free.

It's important to first understand the four phases of the moon: new moon, first quarter, full moon and last quarter.

Period one is the period between the new moon and the first quarter, period two is between the first quarter and the full moon, period three is between the full moon and the last quarter and period four is between the last quarter and the new moon.

Plant leafy crops in period one, fruit crops in period two, root crops and perennials in period three, and take a break in period four (do housework, hoeing, pruning, making raised beds. Don't plant anything unless you would like to limit its size).

If you have a calendar showing the phases of the moon, you can work out when these different periods fall and mark the type of crop they correspond to. If you want to go one step further, you can fine-tune your calendar.  Although we associate the 12 zodiac signs with particular months, each calendar month is also broken down into astrological signs. Each sign has a type of crop associated with it:

Aries: fruit

Taurus: root

Gemini: flower

Cancer: leaf

Leo: fruit

Virgo: root

Libra: flower

Scorpio: leaf

Sagittarius: fruit

Capricorn: root

Aquarius: flower

Pisces: leaf

So, calculating from Friday 12 June, 2010, which is a new moon, I can mark my calendar thus:

12-19 June: period one (plant leafy crops)

19-26 June: period two (plant fruit crops)

26 June-4 July: period three (plant root crops)

4-11 July: period four (housework etc)

If I use leafy crops as an example, these will be planted in period one. When this coincides with the moon in Cancer, Scorpio or Pisces, this is deemed even better. These 'leaf' signs will make this the optimum time.

Looking at my calendar again, in period one, Sunday 13 June is marked as the moon in Cancer, so this is the best possible day in that period to plant leaf crops like spinach, chard or successional sowing of lettuce etc.

A word on fruit crops: this is taken to mean anything which has the seed in the part where it's edible, so: artichokes, courgettes, cucumbers are all classed as fruit as well as what we traditionally call fruit.

Annual flowers should be planted in period one or two, while perennial flowers (or any perennial) should be planted in period three.

Some people use a variation of these calculations, but broadly speaking most moon gardeners follow the same principles.

Have a go and try it for yourself. At worst you will do no harm, at best, you might find that you are on to something that will increase your yield and your enjoyment of the land.

Discuss this blog post

Talkback: Gardening by the moon
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step

Gardeners' World Web User 11/06/2010 at 21:19

WOW!!!!!!!!! Yopu learn something new every day.

Gardeners' World Web User 11/06/2010 at 22:35

Superb reasoning, backed by incontrovertible evidence. How have I coped without this information?

Gardeners' World Web User 14/06/2010 at 15:51

Interesting way to garden. I am inspired. Please visit me for information on aeroponics which will be of great help.

Gardeners' World Web User 15/06/2010 at 13:28

I think the idea is that if possible, you sow on these dates, then you pick up on the next cycle of that particular type to plant out. You could try sowing half your plants by the moon cycle and half at any other time and see if it makes a difference.

Gardeners' World Web User 17/06/2010 at 07:25

Whoa that's a really great idea and exactly what I was thinking tonight as I walked to the store.. To bad I would have to go to someone else's yard to do it. I don't have a yard in my apartment. But Night time in Nevada is probably the best time to workout in the patch.. Great article.

See more comments...