Hello fellow readers, Did you notice the full moon lighting up our nighttime snow-scape last week? No flashlights are needed. It made me think of planting by the moon’s phases, a practice as old as agriculture. True, it’s primarily based on legend, but there are scientific concepts to back it up. For instance, the tides are highest during the new and the full moon, when the sun and moon are lined up with earth. Just as the moon pulls the tides in the oceans, it causes moisture to rise in the earth, encouraging growth.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac explains it in a nutshell. ‘Plant flowers and vegetables that bear crops above ground during the light, or waxing, of the Moon: from the day the Moon is new to the day it is full. Plant flowering bulbs and vegetables that bear crops below ground during the dark, or waning, of the Moon: from the day after it is full to the day before it is new again. Old-time farmers swear that this practice results in a larger, tastier harvest.’
Not only is Lunar planting influenced by the phases of the moon, but the astrological signs of the zodiac also impact it. (And you, Mr. Valentine, thought zodiac signs only had to do with best matches for a mate.)
The constellations correspond with the elements of water, earth, fire, or air. After determining the best moon phase for your plants, find the zodiac’s astrological sign that best represents them. Root crops are favored by earth signs of Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. Leafy crops by water constellations of Cancer, Scorpio, or Pisces. Flowers by air of Libra, Gemini, or Aquarius. You can plant seed crops such as fruits and nuts during Aries, Leo, or Sagittarius, the fire signs, though some consider fire signs barren, dry, and not the best for planting. It sounds complicated, but there are Lunar Planting Calendars that chart it all out for you.
Of course, we have to be in the growing season to plant based on air and soil temperature preferences, which overrides the benefit of lunar cycles. For now, while the moon is waning, rather than whining about the cold, let’s dream about a perfect match. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Column updated 3/8/21
I recently blended my Mom’s cherished books with my own. One of them was in a box still wrapped in cellophane. The Lunar Garden, published in 1989, includes four packs of seeds that, despite their age, I’ll have to plant come spring. Hey, there’s nothing to lose and maybe a smile to gain if some sprout.
Link to a corresponding topic about planting based on Soil Temperature