Lunar Living: a guide to using the moon for gardening

One of the beauties of organic gardening is the following of natural seasons and patters of the earth and seasons to create healthy, living plants and foods. This intrinsic harmony between ourselves and our gardens enhances not only our mind/body relationship but also gives us deep insight into the emotional and spiritual wellbeing that comes with being connected to natural cycles.

There is no doubt that by being part of the process of growing our own food (even if you are just starting off with a simple herb garden or veggie patch) we heal ourselves and become more spiritually rooted in our bodies. The moon has been part of ancient agriculture since the beginning of time when we first noted the effects the moon has on the daily cycles within seasons. We also know that the moon has a great influence on our emotional states and that if we use the moon as a guide in our lives, we open ourselves to receiving many emotionally satisfying experiences.

The moon has a 28 day cycle where she waxes from new moon to full moon then wanes to last quarter and then fades into dark moon until she reappears as new moon again. During this cycle the moon travels through the signs of the zodiac where the four different elements of the signs – earth, air, fire and water – enhance the energy of the phase of the moon, adding a unique dimension to the energy available to us. Working with the appropriate phase of the Moon for all aspects of planting, cultivation, and harvesting will increase quality as well as quantity in your crops.

I know herbalists who are using this system and producing vastly more potent medicinal and culinary plants. NEW MOON PHASE 12 hours after Dark Moon to First Quarter. The Moon rises and sets with the Sun at this time, and for the first one or two days is invisible. Every night she sets approximately one hour later; and can first been seen as a waxing crescent (increasing in light) close to the Sun, at sunset. During this phase there is an upsurge of energy which all living things can greatly benefit from. This is the time to plant and start projects.

Some lunar gardeners believe that one should wait until you can actually see the crescent of the new moon while others believe it’s ok to start 12 hours after Dark Moon. During this phase sap rises within the plants so it’s a time to sow, plant, and transplant annuals which produce above ground crops, especially those of a leafy kind that produce seeds outside the fruit, also cereals and grains. During this time avoid harvesting as rot sets in more quickly. Mow and to encourage growth. Plants need more oxygen at this time.

On an emotional and spiritual level, now is the time to open ourselves up to receiving abundance from the universe. Keywords for the New phase are: beginning, birth, emergence, projection, clarity. It is the time in a cycle that you are stimulated to take a new action. During this phase the new cycle is being seeded by your vision, inner and outer. Engage in physical activity. Spend time alone. VISUALIZE your goals for the 29.6-day cycle ahead.

First Quarter to 12 hours before Full Moon.
By the First quarter phase the Moon is rising at noon, setting at midnight. She slowly grows in light, illuminating the first half of the night sky. During this phase the energy and the sap is still fresh and continuing to rise within the plants. Now is a great time to plant, graft and transplant annuals that produce above ground, especially of a vine-type with seeds produced inside (like beans, peas, peppers, squash and tomatoes). It is also time to plant cereals and grains.

All activities listed for the New Moon phase are just as successful if done now. The last two days of this phase, just before the Full Moon are considered optimum for planting, and grafts take best if done at this time. Keywords for the First Quarter phase are: action, expression, growth, breaking away. It is the time in a cycle to take the initial action necessary to achieve your goal by expressing your needs and desires. FEEL & MOVE. Make phone calls. Write letters. Dance. Act now.

12 hours after Full Moon to Last quarter.
The Full Moon rises brilliant and full at sunset illuminating the sky for the whole night. It will rise later and later in the evening as it moves through its waning phase. The Full Moon phase sees a peak of electromagnetic energy within all living things with it’s zenith at the exact time of the Full Moon. Over the next two weeks, this energy wanes along with the moon. During this phase the sap is now flowing downwards into the roots, so plant perennials, biennials, bulb and root crops – anything that produces below ground. This is also time to prune and harvest all crops.

Medicinal herbs and plants are most potent when harvested during Full Moon and of course the sense of splendor when harvesting by moonlight cannot go without its due credit. This is also a wonderful time to sprout seeds for eating however, not a good time for sprouting to plant. The reason for this is that there will be a good initial growth spurt followed by spindly growth thereafter. Keywords for the Full phase are: fulfillment, illumination, realization, experience. It is the time in a cycle that you are given a clear view so that you can make adjustments to put you back on track to manifesting the goals you set at the new phase. Go to a public place. Do something with a friend. LISTEN. Receive awareness. Understand others.

Last Quarter to 12 hours before Dark Moon.
The Last Quarter Moon rises at midnight in the beginning of the phase, showing us her slowly vanishing crescent in the early morning eastern sky. She then moves closer to the Sun until she becomes visible for the last day or two of the phase. The cycle is complete. This is a barren phase during the cycle that calls for rest and preparation for the next New Moon. It is vital for us to allow this phase to enhance our gardens as well as ourselves: pull weeds, turn the earth and prune. Apply organic fertilizers any time during Waning Moon and mow to decrease growth.

Now is the time to harvest crops that you wish to store for a period of time without it rotting or losing flavour. Keywords for the Last Quarter phase are: realignment, revision, integration, cleansing. It is the time in a cycle to take closing action, to follow-up and complete the activities begun at the New phase. During this phase you become aware of what is and is not working with respect to the achievement of your goal for the cycle. The movement is toward integration. Open to your success. MANIFEST YOUR GOAL. Be responsible.

Aries Leo Sagittarius
When you plant in a FIRE sign, the Moon’s influence is channeled into the fruit and seed of the plant: wheat, corn, tomatoes, beans, squash, peas and all fruit. It is a good idea to plant now to ensure quality seeds for the following year. This is also a good time to harvest fruit and seed crops especially during a fire sign full moon! Cultivate, till and plough. Plant garlic, leeks, onions, peppers and chicory for an exciting spicy crop.

Gemini Libra Aquarius
When you plant in an AIR sign, the Moon’s influence is channeled into the blossom growth. Here we plant all flowers and flowering plants – except cauliflower and broccoli which do better in a Water sign. This is the time for fragrance and beauty so get creative and colourful in the garden. The Moon in Gemini is good for flowering herbs, while the Moon in Aquarius is good for planting or harvesting hybrids (though hybrids don’t respond well to lunar planting methods). This is also a good time for cultivation, weeding or eliminating pests. If you can’t plant now, plant in Fire.

Taurus Virgo Capricorn
When you plant is an EARTH sign, the energy of the Moon is focused into the roots of the plant. Here we plant carrots, beets, turnips, potatoes, and all tubers to produce strong, hardy wellanchored plants. Turn compost heaps. The Moon in Capricorn will produce an exceptionally hardy plant which will last through dry weather spells. When the Moon is in Virgo, put your garden in order; tie up plants, apply organic fertilizers.

The Earth signs are considered to be extremely fertile, so if you can’t figure out what sign you should be using, or can’t possibly organize your time for a specific sign, then plant in an Earth sign or a Water sign. The best day to cut grass is in this sign in the waning moon.

Cancer Scorpio Pisces
When you plant in a WATER sign, the energy will go into the leaves. Lettuce, spinach, grass, cabbage, cress, any leafy growth will thrive planted now. This is considered to be the most productive sign, even more so than Earth. This is an excellent time for fertilizing and irrigating. Start composts heaps. Sow pass. Don’t harvest now, crops will decay too soon. Plant melons, grapes, any fruit with high water content will do well at this time.