Thursday, January 26, 2012

Gardening by the Moon

   Have you ever explored this? It is certainly not a new idea, but we don't hear much about when to plant compared to the suggestions we get on what to plant. I think that's basic marketing. In fact, I think that the nursery producers don't care so much whether our first plants even survive, because we will just buy more. But don't listen to me; I'm a bit cynical. 

   Okay, back to topic. Observing the phases of the moon to plan a garden and all of its attached jobs is a practice that has been around for hundreds of years and in many varied cultures. This year at the Lazy W, we're joining the party. The moon party. There could be howling.

   Here is what I know about lunar agri-lore so far. I made that last word up.

   Basically, the idea is to simply cooperate with the energy of the moon, to follow the swells and swoops of whatever hold she has over our blue little rock and maximize that power. The full lunar cycle is 28 days (sound familiar, ladies?) but those days are not all equal. 

  • The waxing moon is increasing in fullness and brilliance, starting after the New Moon (when it looks darkest) and climbing up to the Full Moon. Remember this by thinking of the expression "She waxes poetic," which suggests that her poetry is increasing.
  • The waning moon is gradually diminishing, starting the day after the Full Moon (when it is brightest) and turning over again at the next New Moon. Pretty simple. 
   If you don't know the exact dates of the moon phases in your part of the world, it's super easy to find. I always look up the details at the Farmers' Almanac website. This is good information to scribble down on your planners, you guys. Check it out.

Hey, incidentally, the site where this chart originates
is all about telling time by the moon! Crazy.

   Okay, once you have a grip on when the moon is brightest (strongest pull on Earth) and when it is weakest,  you just need to know how to apply that knowledge in your garden. Most of the folklore I've read says that the waxing moon is fertile, alive, creative, life giving. Makes sense to me. The waning moon is barren, dormant, even dead. So the plainest possible approach is to divide your garden chores accordingly. Which of your tasks are related to growth and which are related to dormancy or collection. This also applies to above ground and below ground. Examples, anyone?

  • Plant above ground crops during the light of the moon.
  • Plant below ground crops during the dark of the moon.
  • Make transplants and graft tree branches during the waxing moon, when it is vital and life giving.
  • Perform soil cultivation and remove weeds during the dark of the moon, when the moon is barren, so the unwanted seeds don't take purchase again.
   There is so much more information out there, gardening friends. I urge you to spend some of your catalog-browsing time this winter learning more about when to do things in cooperation with the moon. 
   Do you know what else this reinforces? The lovely idea that we don't need to do it all on one day. We can take our time a little bit, divide and conquer, focus and soothe ourselves into the gradual evolution of a really beautiful garden.

Pinned Image

This perfectly dreamy vegetable garden in Connecticut
was in one of my Country Living magazines a few years ago.
Now it all the heck over Pinterest.
Behold its lush mellowness and majesty.
What do you bet the gardener cooperated with the moon?

   So... happy catalogging, friends. Happy dreaming. Happy planning. Happy learning. There is much to learn, after all, and many dreams that are ready to come true.

Waxing Green & Sadness Waning,



  1. Oh, I can't wait to figure this all out! I and my little plants will follow the moon this year. Magnificent!

  2. i used to have a herbal blog, where each month i posted the recommended garden activity - by moon phase and astro stuff. i think you would have really enjoyed it!

    i also have books on moon phases and husbandry (erm, yes, we had planned on a homestead...)

    1. Monica, is that blog still around somehwhere? You're right, I'd love to see it...

  3. I don't have a garden, just a large deck, which is fine by me since I'm not a gardening person. I kill off more or less all plants I come into contact with. So I really admire all you awesome gardening people! But I do follow the moon phases, anyway :-)

  4. Oh yes, I heard of it. And amazingly, when my grandparents came to visit one day they saw my calender (which you can purchase in South Africa, another awesomeness that really baffles me) they were acutely aware of this system and explained it some more and how they use to do it when they still had a food garden. Or a fruit grove or something.

    Apparently it works. Now I have a diary that actually tells you when to do what: don't cut now, prepare the soil; don't transplant seedlings they will rot, etc. Of course I don't have a food garden BUT I am in the midst of making this happen.

  5. Thanks for the post mate you have written it very well.


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