Monday, February 13, 2012
Gardening "by the light of the silvery moon"
Have you ever considered planning your garden or yard work activities "by the light of the silvery moon?" Well, maybe you should to reap the benefits of the moon's phases on earth's vegetation and soil. Ancient civilizations, such as, Roman and Mayan farmers looked up to the "man in the moon," followed the changes in "his" size and and shape to cultivate their crops, celebrate their harvests, maintain their gardens and repeat the cycle for thousands of years.
I noticed last year in our vegetable garden, very interesting growth in the plants and fruit over night when the moon seemed to be the brightest, so I decided to investigate (as the detective I would like to be) this amazing phenomena and the stories my father and other older gardeners had shared with me about "planting by the moon." Keeping things simple and to my roots, I looked through past and present issues of the Old Farmer's Almanac (I buy one every year) and discovered if you understand and use the basic facts and principals of the moon's monthly cycle the benefits may be worth the effort.
Just as the moon's gravitational pull causes ocean tides to ebb and recede, it also causes moisture in the earth's soil to rise and fall. This occurs during four phases the moon moves through during each cycle or month (this cycle lasts every 28 to 29 days). These phases begin with the new moon, then the first quarter, next the full moon and ends with the last quarter. The moon is waxing or the light of the moon increases during the new moon and first quarter. Likewise it is waning or the light of the moon decreases during the full moon and last quarter. Also, at the end of the last quarter the moon rests before the next cycle begins with the new moon. The moisture is pulled upward into roots and stems when the moon is waxing then downward into the soil when the moon is waning.
Therefore the best time to plant above ground plants like peppers, tomatoes, collards, cabbages, flowering plants, trees and shrubs is when the moon is waxing or between the new moon and end of the first quarter. Likewise the best time to plant root crops and seeds, such as peas, beans, carrots, beets, flower seeds, bulbs and tubers is when the moon is waning or between the full moon and the end of the last quarter.
In my quest to find out about this phenomenon of "planting by the light of the silvery moon," I found it can be complicated and technical, but an almanac like the Old Farmer's Almanac keeps it simple for anyone because it breaks down the moon phases every month -- not only to the date and hour, but to the exact minute -- helping you to plan your gardening and yard chores in advance, if you choose to use the moon's amazing effect on plants and soil. Simply put, remember the basic principals I mentioned above, when the light of the moon increases, plant above ground crops and when the light of the moon decreases, plant under ground crops, seeds, bulbs and tubers.
Although, in past seasons my sister and I have not used this schedule for gardening, this year, if possible, we plan to experiment with the vegetable garden and we'll let you know in the fall if our harvests are more productive. I am also planning my flower bed plantings around the phases of the moon and as the flowers bloom, I'll blog you in pictures, the outcome.
However, I know spring gardening plans and chores, always depend on the weather -- the last hard frost -- and your family schedule when beginning and executing any outdoor regime. Presently our fast paced lifestyles are probably why many of us don't follow the sayings and advice of our parents, grandparents and ancestors. I am going to slow down and enjoy some of the simple things in life like the moon this year.
Good Luck and Happy Gardening 2012!
Posted by Wilma Smith