The moon has a profound effect on the way plants grow on Earth, mostly due to its gravitational pull, which stimulates root and leaf growth. Learn how to effectively and organically use the moon cycle as your gardening calendar in our short guide on gardening by the moon. Use it for your upcoming fall garden!
The moon goest through a month-long cycle twelve times a year. The moon's cycle is determined by whether it is waxing (growing to a full moon) or waning (decreasing to a new moon). Most lunar gardeners that have been practicing this age-old method find that during the waxing phase, water tables rise and so plants are better able to absorb nutrients, and during the waning phase the water table lowers. This means that a waxing moon is ideal for planting, while a waning moon is better suited for weeding and pruning.
Each moon cycle also has four phases that are respectively named "Quarters". Each quarter shows the moon from a different angle.
When a moon first starts waxing, it is best to sow seeds and transplant leafy vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, spinach and lettuce. Brambly cane fruits such as raspberries, blackberries and loganberries are also ideal to plant during the first phase of a waxing moon.The water table is beginning its initial rise during the 1st quarter,so plants will germinate quickly from the increased availability of nutrients. Watering vegetable beds well is ideal during this phase as it makes for larger vegetables and fruits in the second quarter.
The second phase of the waxing moon (essentially full moon) causes less gravitational pull, but allows for additional light for plants to grow by making it ideal for aiding leafy growth. Plants that require less leafy growth, such as peas, beans, tomatoes and peppers, should be planted during this phase. Once vegetable plants have begun to produce enough, this is the best quarter to harvest during as their moisture and succulence will be at its peak. The second quarter is also best for harvesting herbs, as this is when their essential oils are at their strongest.
The water table begins to drop just after the full moon, meaning that vegetable and fruit growth slows down. This makes it the ideal quarter for planting root vegetables such as carrots, beets and potatoes in the garden. It is also the ideal time to plant trees, vines and flowering bulbs, as they rely on strong root systems. Pruning is also advisable in the third quarter, as cut ends won't lose as much sap or moisture during this phase.
This is the driest cycle of the moon, making it the least ideal for transplanting or sowing seeds. This is the best time to continue weeding, turning compost or tilling the ground or mulching and feeding planted garden beds.
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