Lunar Planting

Old timers say, “With the waxing of the moon, the earth exhales, with the waning of the moon, the earth inhales”.

Moon cycles have been a mainstay of garden play for many thousands of years, from primal tribal villages to agricultural civilizations, and is it any wonder that this traverses continent and culture for Moon does the same, shining in all directions traversing this home planet: verdant Terra who enjoys both Sun and Moon’s forces in combination. Even though Sun is bigger, Moon is closer to Earth, and thus has stronger constant gravitational effects. The strongest is felt when the two pull from opposite sides of earth, at full moon phase, with the exception being new moon, which is when they are on the same side and create high tides rising. Tides rise highest at new and full moon in Oceanic womb, and on Earth it is moisture that rises from below to above, facilitating growth. The basics to lunar planting begin with the ebb and flow of sap and how these relate with lunar rhythms; sap being composed of fluid water, and moon governing watery tides as they rise and fall, the two interplaying.

During waxing moon lunar gravity pulls water up, sap flow ascends, energies work toward budding and leafing out, springing forth, seeds swell and sprout with balanced root growth. This indicates the seeding, propagating, and transplanting of flowering plants, those whose leaves, seeds, flowers and fruits you intend to harvest. It’s also a good time for applying compost tea, cultivating, and pruning/pinching to promote growth.

From new moon to first quarter sow or transplant leafy greens whose leaves and stems you’re interested in, plants that form their seeds outside fruit:: for instance lettuce, spinach, cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, chard, celery, and herbs.

Second quarter phase creates strong leaf growth as moonbeams intensify in strength as well and is suited to sowing, planting, and transplanting fruiting annuals that produce above ground with seeds forming inside ::tomatoes, squash, pumpkins, beans, melons, peas, and peppers.

During waning moon, even while lunar gravity decreases stimulating roots, it begins with strong moonlight directly after full moon, so there is high moisture in soil before sap flow lulls. Descent points to roots, hence planting at this juncture is suited to seeding and transplanting root crops, and planting perennials, shrubs, bushes, bulbs, rhizomes, and underground friends. It’s also a good time for applying manure, mulch, compost, pruning limbs and cutting back branches as they’ll seal and heal better at this time being less juicy, as well as mowing and harvesting.

Full moon third quarter phase befits the sowing or planting of root crops as well as decorative or fruiting perennials and trees:: potatoes asparagus, rhubarb, turnips, beets, carrots, onion, garlic, horseradish. It is also a good time for taking cuttings and dividing plants.

Last quarter phase is a time of rest where both moonlight and lunar gravity is at lowest of low, avoid planting and focus on improving soil:: weed, mulch, make compost and manure teas, cultivate, dig, till and mow.

There is a relationship between elements and plants as well:: Earth corresponds with root, Water with leaf growth, Fire with seed production, and Air with flowers. These relationships are applied to advantage when lunar cycles and signs align in suitable combinations, as having influences that are beneficial create optimal conditions for plants to grow from seed to fruit in health, vitality, zest, and zeal providing abundance for the gardeners delight!

The Moon moves through the signs of the Zodiac every couple of days. When the Moon is in a water sign, Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces, it is the most fertile time for planting above ground, leafy annuals. The Earth signs, Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn, are also fertile and good for planting especially root crops or transplanting to encourage root development. When the Moon is in an air sign it is a good time to harvest and cultivate. The fire signs of Aries, Leo and Sagittarius are extremely barren and dry, but may be used for crops grown for seed, weeding and cultivation. It is also good to harvest during a fire sign. Harvesting in the dry Air and Fire signs in the fourth quarter helps preserve fruit and vegetables for storage.

Aries- Fire. Barren and dry. Harvest root and fruit for storage. Cultivate, weed, and tell pests adieu.

Taurus- Earth. Productive and moist. Second best for planting and transplanting. Good for root crops and potatoes, and for leafy vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage and spinach.

Gemini- Air. Barren and dry, though melons planted at this time do well. Harvest roots and fruits for storage. Cultivate, weed, and tell pests adieu.

Cancer- Water. Very fruitful and moist. The best sign for all planting, transplanting, grafting, and irrigation.

Leo- Fire. Very barren and dry. Cultivate, harvest roots and fruits for storage, cultivate, weed, and tell pests adieu. Mow.

Virgo- Earth. Barren and moist. Cultivate, weed, and tell pests adieu.

Libra- Air. Semi-fruitful and moist. Best sign for planting beautiful fragrant flowers, vines and aromatic herbs. Good for planting root crops.

Scorpio- Water. Very fruitful and moist. Best sign for planting sturdy plants and vines. Tomatoes like to be transplanted in Scorpio, and it is a good time to plant corn and squash. Graft or prune in the third and fourth quarter to retard growth and promote better fruit.

Sagittarius- Fire. Barren and dry. Harvest roots and onions for storage, plant onion sets, and fruit trees. A good sign to cultivate soil.

Capricorn- Earth. Productive and dry. Good for planting potatoes and other root crops, and for encouraging strong hardy growth. Good for grafting, pruning to promote healing, and applying manure.

Aquarius- Air. Barren and dry. Harvest roots and fruits for storage. Plant onion sets. Cultivate, weed, and tell pests adieu.

Pisces- Water. Very productive and moist. Second best sign for planting, transplanting and irrigation.

A calendar depicting the daily signs and moon phases is handy to refer to. I use Maria Thuns biodynamic calendar, which has the Moon’s orbit through the constellations and uses the sidereal system as its base.

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