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Lunar Planting: What Is It, And How Does It Work?

For thousands of years, human beings have known about the moon’s tremendous influence on our planet. The moon affects ocean tides, shifting large amounts of water as it moves through its phases and changes its relative position to the earth. Women have intimate awareness of this connection, as the lunar cycle corresponds to our monthly cycles, and ultimately to our relationship with living and dying. Because plant germination and growth are most affected by water and light, the moon’s influence in a garden can be surprisingly powerful. Planting in the flow of these processes can help a gardener to grow the most successful plants possible.

“The moon’s influence on a garden can be surprisingly powerful.”

As Janice Stillman, editor of The Old Farmer’s Almanac, told Garden Collage: “Gardening by the moon is based on the idea that the moon influences so much of the world and life, and that everything on our planet affects each other. The moon influences the tides, and so this principle applies to gardening on a smaller scale.”

Since Spring planting season is finally here, it’s a great time to incorporate lunar knowledge into your gardening practice. Sewing seeds at the right time of the month can stimulate plants to grow larger and faster. Because the moon’s position impacts gravitational pull on groundwater tables, planting with the moon can ensure that crops receive the ideal amount of water. Also, while the sun is what ultimately allows plants to grow, the power of moonlight should not be discounted, and planting certain seeds when the moon is brightest can be a powerful way to jump-start new seeds.

“Gardening with the moon helps us to know when the earth is most fertile and receptive to planting,” Stillman says.

Plant above-ground crops like lettuce and tomatoes on the waxing of the moon; the decreasing gravitational pull will draw water up into the plants and make them fuller, fresher, and healthier.

So, when are the best times to plant this spring? Well, that depends on what you want to grow. Plan to plant above-ground crops like lettuce and tomatoes on the light or waxing of the moon (from the time between when the moon is new to the day it’s full). The increasing energy of the moon and decreasing gravitational pull will draw the water up into the plants and make them fuller, fresher, and healthier. In contrast, plant root vegetables and other below-ground plants like carrots, onions, and potatoes during the dark or waning of the moon (from the time between when the moon is full to when it is new, at which time more moisture will be pulled down into the plants).

There’s no need to plant your seeds on the exact day of the full or new moon, but within a range of days around that time of the moon cycle. April’s full moon, the Pink Moon, took place on April 11th, 2017–and the forthcoming new moon takes place on April 26th. That means that the best days to plant above-ground crops was around April 9th-11th, and the best days for below-ground crops will be April 26th-28th.

Full and New Moon Dates for Spring and Summer 2017:

  • April – 11th (full), 26th (new)
  • May – 10th (full), 25th (new)
  • June – 9th (full), 24th (new)
  • July – 9th (full), 23rd (new)
  • August – 7th (full), 21st (new)
  • September – 6th (full), 20th (new)

Astrology, as well as astronomy, may influence planting success as well. Because each of the twelve signs of the astrological zodiac move through the moon at least once per month, this can be taken into account while gardening. For instance, many moon gardeners prefer to plant new crops, especially root vegetables, during the signs of Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn, because these are Earth signs. Leafy plants that are more water-dense, like lettuce, have been known to flourish when planted in a water sign (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces). While some flowers do best when planted in an air sign (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius), this is generally a great time to cultivate and harvest. Fire sign days (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius), especially at the dark of the moon, tend to be the best ones to weed, prune, and best of all, harvest.

“When you get in touch with the Earth’s natural phases and seasons, you ground yourself in your own. What better way to nourish yourself than with food grown with intention?”

While the most important factors in gardening are still about ensuring plants get the necessary amount of sunlight and water required, and meticulous moon gardening rituals will not be a substitute for best gardening practices, it can be a fun way to re-attune yourself with nature’s cycles this season. When you get in touch with the Earth’s natural phases and seasons, you ground yourself in your own. Because healthy food is what you need to survive, what better way to nourish yourself than with food grown with intention? When you intentionally harness the powers of the cosmos to help feed yourself, gardening can become a nourishing spiritual practice– one capable not only of sustaining your body, but also your heart, mind, and spirit.

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