Everything you need to know about “Gardening by the Moon”

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gardening-by-the-moon(NaturalHealth365) Easter.  April showers.  The last threat of a late frost … If you’re a gardener, now is the time to spring into action.  Weather and life, however, have the tendency to sabotage the work of even the most seasoned gardener.  One way to encourage greater yields and better results is to “garden by the moon.”

The idea of gardening by the moon, or lunar gardening, might sound like the type of New Age quackery discussed on hippie Facebook groups, but the idea is found in the folklore of ancient societies.  From the Celts in Britain to the Maoris in New Zealand, tuning into nature’s rhythms is an old tradition in many rural areas.  In fact, moon gardening is just one aspect of biodynamic agriculture, a theory that suggests the surrounding terrain, the influences of the waning and waxing moons, and even the positions of the stars are integral to soil health and crop vitality.

Waxing moon is a growth period, and the waning moon is rest time

At the Growing Stronger Collaborative Conference about gardening, Jane Hawley Stevens of Four Elements Herbals presented some basic principles and guidelines for gardening by the moon.  The bottom line: just as the moon affects tides, it has an effect on the groundwater and the gravitational pull in the soil.  Moon gardening is about using the waxing and waning moon to help decide when to attend to certain tasks.

1st Quarter: The moisture in the soil is pulled towards the surface and can cause seeds to swell and sprout.  At this stage, Stevens suggests planting leafy things like kale, lettuce, and broccoli.  The increased light and higher groundwater make it the perfect time to plant above-ground plants.

2nd Quarter: During this quarter it’s best to plant crops that produce their seed within its fruit – tomatoes, and peppers, for example.

3rd Quarter: During this stage of the lunar cycle, moisture is beginning to move away from the surface and back into the earth, making it the best time to plant root vegetables and perennials.

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4th Quarter: This is the driest part of the cycle.  Stevens suggests doing tasks like weeding during this quarter because the dryness will make it difficult for weeds to recover and grow back.  If you’re drying herbs, this is a good time to harvest as the plants will have little moisture.

You don’t need to be an astronomer to garden by the moon 

Like sourdough starters and Zoom cocktails, the gardening trend bloomed in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Now, homebound or not, green thumbs are once again turning to horticulture.  In fact, the demand for seeds is so high that companies can’t keep up.  According to the Washington Post, Missouri-based Baker Creek Seeds is selling six times more seeds compared to an average busy season.

Whether you’re gardening to enjoy the outdoors, relieve stress, or have security in your food supply, it’s time to up your garden game with a little moon magic.  Remember:  You don’t need to be an astronomer to garden by the moon.  You just have to know which phase of the moon you’re in.

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