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What is Planting by the Moon?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 07 September 2016
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Planting by the moon is a gardening practice where gardeners schedule their activities around the lunar cycle in the belief that the moon's phases have an influence on plant growth and development. For gardeners skeptical about the influences of the moon, planting by the moon can still create a convenient schedule to follow, helping gardeners stay organized with crops and giving the garden time to rest between activities. This is also known as lunar planting.

Gardeners who believe in the benefits of planting by the moon have a number of explanations for how the moon influences crops. Most of these involve the relative positions of the Earth, moon, and sun during the lunar cycle. Waxing moons are supposed to provide more energy to plants, promoting rapid, healthy growth, while waning moons allegedly are good for cultivation, weeding, and similar activities.

Numerous almanacs and guides are available for planting by the moon. Complete annual guides can offer a schedule for activities to do on each day of the year within a specific gardening zone to keep a garden on track for healthy growth and development. These can range from activities like preparing beds in the spring to dividing plants in the fall before the winter sets in and makes it difficult to work in the garden. There are also more general recommendations available for gardening by the moon in a generic lunar cycle, rather than at a specific time of year.

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According to proponents of gardening by the moon, plants that grow above ground, including herbs and ornamentals, should be established as the moon is getting bigger. Below-ground crops should be planted in the waning moon. Transplanting, grafting, and pruning are all waxing moon activities, while cultivating, weeding, plowing, and preparing beds are good things to do when the moon is dark.

It is not necessary to garden at night to practice planting by the moon. Most gardeners recommend working in the daylight hours for comfort and easy visibility. Some believe the time of day is important and may recommend that gardeners plan to harvest at dawn or dusk. Gardeners should take full and new moons off to rest, leaving the garden alone on these days of the cycle. This advice also provides an opportunity for gardeners to take a break, and it can be a good time to work on related projects like organizing seeds, cleaning sheds, and so forth.

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Emilski
Post 5

I would be interested to hear from someone who does garden by the phases of the moon. What is the reasoning behind why you are supposed to do the different activities at certain times of the year?

I actually think there might be some validity to it. I always heard the guideline that if you dig a hole during a full moon you won't have enough soil to fill it in and during a new moon there will be too much soil. I've tested it out at both times, and it was true. I couldn't say why, though.

DentalFloss
Post 4

@recapitulate- I know someone who sometimes tries to plant according to the moon phases calendar. Her argument is that the moon, especially the full moon, is believed to affect other things in our lives, like how we behave and the weather, so why not what happens to our plants? I haven't done it myself, though.

kentuckycat
Post 3

@TreeMan - I learned about planting by moon phases when I had a new neighbor move in next to me. I was working in the garden, and she came over, and we started talking about when to plant and harvest.

She is a firm believer in planting by the moon calendar and follows the almanacs exactly. I tried it for one year and thought it was a little bit too much work for me. I wouldn't say it to her, but I never noticed any major difference between her garden and mine.

Like the article mentions, though, I modified the lunar garden idea to help me keep my activities on track. It's useful for that, at least.

recapitulate
Post 2

@TreeMan- I think that growing seasons as they are established are still sort of by the moon. Knowing when to plant, after all, can depend on things like the nearness of the solstice or the first frost or other events that are seasonal therefore cyclical. I think planting based on particular lunar events, then, isn't that much further a step.

I don't garden much, though, so I don't know if planting by the moon calendar really does work.

TreeMan
Post 1

I do a good bit of gardening, but I have never heard of anyone planting by moon phases. Is there any evidence that this actually works? It seems a little farfetched to me.

I just don't understand how the moon would have an effect on how well plants grow. The plants can't use the light from the moon to grow, so that idea would be out. As far as I know, the moon doesn't have any real effect on the composition of the soil, either.

I am curious, though, if this might be part of the reason calendars have the moon phases and why it is always mentioned on the weather report. I will definitely be researching this moon planting idea further.

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