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Planting by the Moon Phases

Planting by the moon is a common belief found all over the world and has been utilised in the past by gardeners and farmers alike. For example, it is believed that when you plant or harvest certain plants at different stages of the moon's cycle, it can alter how fast they germinate, how healthy or large they become, how long they can be stored or whether leaf or root growth is favoured. The moon's cycle is every 29 and a half days but for gardening there are only 4 moon phases: new moon, first quarter, full moon and last quarter. In general, the waxing moon stimulates leaf growth whereas the waning moon after the full moon stimulates rot growth.

Leafy crops, annual flowers and above-ground vegetables such as beans, tomatoes, cabbage and kale are meant to be planted between the new moon and the first quarter. This is due to the moon pulling moisture upwards and providing seeds with water near the surface of the soil. Below ground plants will apparently not do so well and won't develop very much underground. Root crops and perennials such as daffodils, tulips, potatoes, onions and carrots should be planted when the moon is waning between the full moon and the last quarter. This is the time when the moon's gravitational pull decreases slightly and roots are more likely to develop better by growing downwards. When the moon is at its darkest, between the last quarter and the new moon no plants should be planted. However, some say this is a perfect time of slow growth to get rid of weeds by pruning them in this period so they are less likely to rise again.

The sidereal star zodiac signs are also linked to planting by the moon phases as the moon passes each one throughout its cycle. Earth signs - Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn are the best days to plant root crops. Water signs - Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces are the best days for leafy crops like lettuce and spinach. Air signs - Gemini, Libra and Aquarius are best for flower crops like cauliflower and broccoli and other flowering plants. Fire signs - Aries, Leo and Sagittarius are best for fruits and seeds such as onions, garlic and peppers.

It has been proved that plants also have a circadian rhythm that controls internal physiological changes just like us and other organisms. We all know how the moon’s gravity affects bodies of water by creating tides. Therefore, it is assumed the moon can also affect the water in soil and plants by pulling water nearer to the surface which would speed up germination. Despite all of this, it is hard to know just how much the moon’s phases impact our plants. There is no real scientific evidence of any long-term studies to support the moon phases in particular as the effects could be just too small to record, however moonlight has been shown to affect plants and the insects that feed on them. There are also multiple different versions of beliefs that include zodiac signs, different moon signs and contradicting refined views, so it is hard to know what to believe. In relation to frost dates, moon phases vary a lot more which could cause warm growing crops to more likely to die in some years. I have only given a brief overview of this complicated and varying subject here, and there is a lot of information online about the different planting cycles that can differ. If you are intrigued by planting by the moon phases at all, then why not give it a go yourself and see if you can notice any improvements!

Useful sources:

If you interested to give this a go, here is a free lunar calendar website where you can find out what to do!


Photo: Tony Fisher on Pexels

Photo: Alex Andrews on Pexels

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