Originally published at Women Not Dabbling by Howling Hill
Planting by the moon is an ancient way to plant, an ancient knowledge passed down from one generation to the next. And not just from human to human. Plants know when to seed, propagate, and rest due to their connection to Moon.
There are as many opinions on when to plant as there are gardeners. Gardening By the Moon states what to plant during which moon phase. While I don’t get as nuanced as they do, it’s mostly because I don’t have the space to be so specific so I put all my seeds into soil on a new moon though I do try to keep growing times in mind. That is, sunflowers and beans I don’t plant until closer to May because they grow so quickly they outgrow their containers and I have no other place to put them before they can go outside on Memorial Day Weekend (traditionally the time to plant in the ground in the Northeast; frost danger has passed by then).
Earth revolves once a day; Moon orbits around Earth once every 29 1/2 days. It takes 365 days for Earth to revolve around Sun. The calendar is solar based. In the grand scheme of human time, this is a new invention. Prior to following a solar calendar most societies used a lunar calendar. Did you know the Islamic calendar is the only widely used lunar calendar still in existence?
Because it takes 29 1/2 days to rotate around Earth, Moon has a two extra days. Usually around August every three years, there is a blue moon. This is two full moons in a 30 day period. Because all things are balanced in nature, a black moon is when two new moons occur in the same 30 day period. There was a black moon this year in August. The next one will be in July 2011.
New Moon A dark moon. That is, Moon cannot be seen with the naked eye.
Waxing Getting bigger.
Waxing Moon More of the Moon is visible. That is, she is growing.
First Quarter Half of the Moon is visible.
Waxing Gibbous Three-quarters of the Moon is visible.
Full All of the Moon is visible. Also, it’s the second quarter but no one really says that.
Waning Getting smaller.
Waning Gibbous (sometimes called “disseminating”) Three quarters of the Moon is visible.
Third Quarter Half of the Moon is visible. It’s not the same half as in the First Quarter, it’s the other half.
Waning Crescent (sometimes called “balsamic”) Getting smaller.
During each phase you’ll note the times Moon is visible. During the new moon, She rises and sets with Sun which is why Moon is not visible to the naked eye. While waxing Moon is visible late afternoon to early evening. During the first quarter Moon can be seen from noon to midnight. Waxing gibbous She rises before sunset. At the full moon, She awakens as Sun sets to slumber. Waning Gibbous Moon rises one hour later after sunset each night. The last quarter She rises at midnight and sets at noon. Lastly, during the waning crescent, she rises before dawn. (from We’Moon the 2007 calendar.)
If you’re like me, once the seed packages come in you get so darned excited it’s hard to keep yourself in check and not plant those little genetic packages of goodness right away. The cold weather and snow (thankfully?) keeps us in check here in the Northeast. In order to get my plants ready for their lives outside I plant seeds into small containers in the house on the new moon in February or March. Of course seeds will grow after put into soil no matter where Moon is in her phase but you’ll note the seeds propagate a little slower or faster in attempts to catch up with Moon.
While the formula is guideline not set in stone. The basic premise of planting by Moon is put seed in soil on the new moon, and by the crescent you’ll have sprouts. The first quarter you’ll note marked growth. By the gibbous your plant will have bud and flower by the full moon. Fruit comes during the disseminating moon, harvest during the last quarter, and compost during the balsamic period. Certainly there are exceptions to this rule. I can plant summer squash in May and not have fruit till August.
Moons also have names. I like to name them myself. For instance, June’s full moon is known as Strawberry Moon here on Howling Hill. I so named it because the alpine strawberries are fruited and sweet to my mouth and the local chipmunk population. Take on this small challenge next year: name all the full moons according to your locality and let us know what they are! Incidentally, the Beaver Moon just passed.
Planting by Moon is very rewarding. Doing so give you a visual queue as to where your plants should be in their growth cycle. It take a lot of the mystery out regarding when to plant and allows you to plan when to put seeds in the ground or soil containers. The biggest thing to keep in mind, and I already said it though it bears repeating, is to know (or have a good idea) of the growth rate of the plant you’re putting to seed. Large plants such as squash, pumpkin, beans, and some melons grow fast and big so plant those on the new moon closest to when said plant can move outside. Some slower growing (and smaller) plants can be put into soil much earlier.
The last thing I want to touch upon is when to pick your plants. Honestly, I do so when I find they are ready to be picked. I tried googling “harvesting moon” and “moon harvesting” but didn’t find anything relevant. If you have some ideas about harvesting in relation to Moon’s phase let me know. It’s not something I know enough about to write on.
Here’s a handy-dandy moon phase calendar you can put on your sidebar to help you keep track.
Moon graphic available at Moon Connection.