“The Moon replenishes the earth; when she approaches it, she fills all bodies, while, when she recedes, she empties them.”
– Pliny the Elder (Roman Naturalist and Philosopher)
There are a number of Natural Farming traditions that emphasize cosmic and lunar influences. Biodynamics is one of the better known examples, although it is not uncommon for practitioners of other systems, such a Permaculture, to make use of lunar cycles.
The basic premise is that these heavenly cycles have influences on our planet and the life that it supports - including plants. The gravitational forces of the moon are seen as being particularly significant. Is this all lunacy (pardon the pun) or are there benefits in working to an astrological gardening calendar? Well that is the subject of much debate. Most scientists would seem to be unconvinced of any meaningful correlation; although practitioners do cite some scientific studies in support of their claims.
Leaving the debate aside, there is one undeniable benefit of this approach. Practitioners are likely to be farming or gardening in a very mindful way. Even if one doubts the scientific validity of these “super-natural” farming practices, the discipline, planning and awareness required would seem very likely to have its own inherent benefits. If you remain intrigued or would like to test a lunar gardening approach yourself, some ideas on where to start are included on the page below.
Some basics of gardening by the lunar calendar are included below. There are many great books and webpages on this subject too.
First Quarter: The waxing moon (growing bigger) is said to pull water (and sap) upwards and encourage greater fertility. It is seen as a good time to germinate seeds and plant food crops that are harvested above the ground level – especially leafy crops.
Second Quarter: As the moon becomes fuller the increased moonlight is said to help leaf growth. This remains a good time to plant and germinate seeds, with the focus shifting from leafy greens to annual crops that produce edible fruits or seeds. Plants like tomatoes, eggplants, cucurbits, peas, beans, and broccoli.
Third Quarter: As the moon begins to wane (become smaller) it is said to exert less gravitational pull and slow the growth of leaves. Planting of root crops and perennials is encouraged. Think potatoes, carrots, rhubarb, asparagus and fruit trees.
Fourth Quarter: The waning moon is said to result in drier soil and increasingly less moonlight resulting in slower plant growth. Maintenance activities such as fertilising or compost teas are suggested activities. As are pruning, transplanting or harvesting.
Transition Periods: In the 12 hours before and after each phase it is recommended to focus on soil improvement.