Planting By the Moon – The Starter’s Guide
In ancient times, one factor that was thought to have an important contribution to the yield of agricultural crop was the lunar cycle. The timing of sowing, in particular, is thought to be affected by the different phases of the moon. Although there has not been any major research that provides concrete proof on the link between the yield of crop and the phases of the lunar cycle, there have been studies that suggest the science behind using such methods. For example, according to a study conducted by Northwestern University, the results suggest that plants absorb more water during a full moon. To make it easier to understand the theory of applying the lunar cycle to your gardening efforts, we have created the following infographic which informs you on the basics of using such practice.
What exactly causes people to believe that the lunar cycle could have an influence on the success of gardening or other agricultural activities? One common theory is the effect of gravitational pull. For example, based on Newton’s Law of Gravitation, the effect of gravitation is thought to be strongest during the full moon and during the new moon. The full moon occurs when the sun and moon align on opposite sides of the earth, and a new moon occurs when both the sun and moon align on the same side of the earth. As suggested by the Northwestern University study, plants absorb more water during these particular periods than during any other phase of the lunar cycle. This leads to the conclusion that the stronger the gravitational pull, the more efficient the flow of moisture in the soil and through the stem of the plant.
One other theory of lunar gardening is the effect of moonlight on seed germination. For example, according to “How to Grow More Vegetables”, a book written by John Jeavons, leaf growth is stimulated during the waxing phase of the lunar cycle. Waxing refers to the period when the moon becomes more illuminated night-by-night.
Ultimately, the scientific explanations for this theory may be lacking but considering the fact that the lunar gardening theory has been applied since ancient times, it definitely does not hurt to try for yourselves and see what kind of results you get out of it.
Types of Lunar Gardening
There are three types of lunar gardening one should be aware of. They are the Synodic method, Biodynamic method, and the Sidereal method. The Synodic method is the most common out of the three and will serve as the main subject matter for the rest of the article. It is, however, still important to briefly touch on the two other methods and the reasons why they are used less.
Biodynamic method is when one uses the constellations in the sky to determine when to sow the seeds. The Sidereal method, on the other hand, uses information on the moon’s orbit in order to determine when and what to plant. As you can see, these two methods sound a lot more complicated so let’s stick to the Synodic method for now.
To apply the Synodic method, the first things you will want to learn are the four phases of the lunar cycle and how plant activities are affected by those phases.
During the new moon, the gravity of the moon causes water to be pulled up. This is thought to make seeds swell and burst. Based on these factors, one recommendation for gardeners would be to plant above-ground fruits and vegetables like lettuce, cabbage, and broccoli.
During the 2nd quarter, the gravitational pull decreases but the intensity of the moonlight becomes stronger. As a result, strong leaf growth is expected during this phase. The recommendation for the 2nd quarter would be to plant annuals that produce above ground (but with the seeds inside the fruit), such as beans and melons.
During the full moon, the intensity of the moonlight starts to wane. The gravitational pull, however, is high during the full moon so gardeners are encouraged to plant root crops such as carrots and onions. Gardeners are also recommended to engage in transplanting activities during the full moon.
Finally, in the 4th quarter, gravitational pull and the intensity of the moonlight is at its weakest so gardeners are recommended to engage in activities like pruning, cultivating, and harvesting.
So now that you have the recommendations figured out, how do you find out the current phase of the lunar cycle for your location? Fortunately, there are plenty of great resources online that can point you to the right direction. For example, if you check out timeanddate.com, there is a moon phase calendar page that will tell you what the current moon phase is based on time and location.
While you reading more about this topic, you may also find details on the best times to tackle pests (whether that would be underground pests or something visible in the air like fruit flies) in the garden. For example, the behaviors of some pests are believed to be affected by the lunar cycle.
Published on November 30, 2016 by Sam Choan.