Haven’t you ever wondered why it is that you are successful some years with your herb, vegetable or flower planting, and other times you have failed miserably? No matter how careful you were the end results are pathetic and miserable specimens that weren’t worth the effort. Well maybe when you planted might have been a factor in the results.

Moon planting, or planting by the moon, as it is also known, has been a method of gardening practised by the most ancient of cultures. They knew when to plant and when to harvest, because they planted by watching the lunar phases and so created moon gardens long before it became the popular practise it has become today. Lunar gardening practices base themselves in the idea that the moon’s phases positively impact plant growth when used effectively. For example, during the Victorian era, people planted herbs during a full moon hoping for a bigger harvest. In modern times, the Maori of New Zealand still follow a lunar calender for gardening.

Metaphysically speaking, the moon’s energy transforms phase by phase. The first quarter represents new beginnings, the second quarter to full moon symbolizes growth and fertility, the third or waning quarter signifies the harvest, completions and resolution, and the dark moon represents rest and inner thoughts. Those interested in trying lunar herb gardening only need a lunar calendar and basic gardening tools to get started.

Planting by the Moon – Moon Phases

We are all in agreement that the moon has a powerful effect on the tides. We will also attest that the moon can also adversely affect people and their behavior. It is also believed that the moon affects the earth’s vegetation in different ways depending on the phase of the moon at any one time of the month. with the moon completing a cycle every 29 1/2 days, and although there are 8 phases of the moon, for gardening purposes the moon phases are divided into 4 quarters; new moon, 1st quarter, full moon, 3rd quarter, new moon. The new moon will actually be a dark period where you will not see any moon at all.

Planting by the Moon – What to Plant When

Waxing Crescent Moon: 1st Quarter (Increasing to Half Full Moon)

To make moon planting really simple,  just after you see the first crescent (known as waxing crescent) you can start planting as this is when there is a surge of energy through the plants and the sap begins to rise through the stems.

When the moon is waxing towards the first quarter, that is when the light of the moon is increasing from a new to a full moon, this is the time to plant leafy crops, cereals, grains and other crops and flowers that produce growth above the ground. You can start to sow seeds, transplant seedlings and graft plants when the moon is waxing.

  • Plant leafy & seed producing herbs – examples include basil, borage, dill, parsley, oregano, nasturtium and marjoram.

Waxing Gibbous 2nd Quarter (Half Full to Full Moon)

When the moon is in the first quarter and is moving towards a full moon (known as waxing gibbous) you can also plant ground crops that have inside seeds such as cayenne, tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers etc. It is also the time to plant annuals and flowers that you want to produce showy and fragrant flowers such as roses. The last two days of the first quarter, just before the full moon is considered an ideal time for grafting fruit trees.

  • Plant vine annuals that yield above ground and have seeds inside their fruit. (examples include red clover, chervil, coriander and savory, cayenne.)

Waning Gibbous Moon: 3rd Quarter  (Decreasing to Half Full Moon)

When the moon is a full moon all plants are at their peak. However, over the next two weeks as the moon loses its light it also loses its energy and the moon is waning to the third quarter. (known as waning gibbous). This is the time to harvest your crops, your herbs, especially medicinal herbs which will be more potent if picked at this time, mushrooms, grapes and of course it is the time to prune. This is the time to plant crops and flowers that produce growth below the ground such as root crops, tubers and bulbs and for flowers, your biennials and perennials, and the perennials can be divided now too. Therefore it is time to plant onions, potatoes, carrots, swedes, turnips, beets, parsnips and radishes. It is also the time to plant trees, fruit trees and saplings towards the end of the waning period and any spraying of fruit trees should be done during this period of the moon phase. You can also plant strawberries and their runners out now and if you have any vegetables or fruit that will have to be stored for a long period of time, such as apples, potatoes, pumpkins etc. if you pick them now they won’t rot as quickly.

  • Plant biennials, perennials, bulbs, and root herbs, those that overwinter and produce their crop the next year, trees, shrubs, and berries (example dandelion, rosemary, sage, lavender, garlic, and valerian).

Waning Crescent Moon: 4th Quarter (Half Full to New Moon)

  • Weed, till and tend your herb garden. This keeps with the symbolism of rest, and lunar gardeners believe the practice deters weed growth going forward

During the last or fourth quarter (known as waning crescent) this is a barren phase for moon gardening where it more prudent to do some tidying up in your garden, pull the weeds, see to the compost heap, spread the manure and turn over the beds. Now wait for the first crescent of the new moon to plant new seeds.

So next time you go to herb garden consider checking out a  site that will tell you when to plant based on a lunar calendar. One we recommend is out of the UK but applies to our area as well. Here is the link –http://www.the-gardeners-calendar.co.uk/Moon_Planting.asp

Happy Moon Gardening!