I’d like to share a secret I use in my garden to get great results. Strong, healthy happy plants. This ‘secret weapon’ saves me a LOT of time and money. It’s moon gardening or planting by the moon!
OK, ‘moon gardening’ may sound a little strange if you’ve never heard of it before! Stay with me and I’ll reveal the secret in more detail and how YOU can use this to your advantage.
You are probably already familiar with your climate zone and are planting in the right season for your location. One easy way for you to maximise your gardening success is by working with nature’s lunar cycles. By that, I don’t mean getting outdoors with a shovel in the middle of the night! Moon planting has been practiced by farmers and gardeners who were in tune with nature’s patterns. In our busy modern world, many gardeners have lost sight of this age old science-based technique.
How Does Moon Gardening Work?
The moon has four ‘phases’ or ‘quarters’ – each last about 7 days. In the first two quarters, the ‘new’ dark moon you see gets bigger and more visible. This is known as the ‘waxing’ phase. You see an increase in light until the full moon is visible. The 3rd and 4th quarters are after the full moon. This is when the light begins to ‘wane’ or decrease. Then the cycle starts again.
So why am I sharing this with you?
“Because what goes on in your garden is very much influenced by the moon … and that can bring you some distinct advantages!”
Just as the moon influences the rise and fall of the tides, it also has a gravitational effect on the moisture in plants (sap), the soil and water table. These effects are magnified at different times of the month’s moon cycle. Moon gardening is simply learning to garden according the moon’s phases.
What’s the significance of this for you? There is more moisture in the soil at this time which encourages seeds to swell, burst and sprout because that’s when they will absorb the most water. If you’ve ever had trouble germinating seeds, I encourage you to try again. At the right time of the month. The difference I’ve had in results of the years, has convinced me timing has a major effect on successful germination.
The amount of moonlight at different times also influences the growth of plants. As the moonlight increases (new moon and second quarter), this stimulates leaf growth.
After the full moon, the moonlight decreases, putting energy into the plant roots. At this time, the above ground leaf growth slows down. So this becomes a favourable time to plant your root crops and bulbs, because of the active root growth.
At different moon phases, the gravitational pull of the sun and moon are combined to create a high sap run in plants. This is an optimum time to plant above ground crops like leafy greens. At other times, these natural forces create a rest period for plants. This is an ideal time to prepare new gardens, prune, weed or harvest. Or just take a well deserved rest yourself!
“The practice of moon gardening is simply about planting at the right phases in this lunar cycle.”
My Experiences with Moon Gardening
A few years ago when I found out about moon gardening, I started to test out for myself whether it would make any difference in my garden. I experimented by planting edible crop seeds and seedlings in the same garden beds and seed trays under identical conditions except for the timing. Some were planted at the optimum time for growth and some when it was not ideal.
“I believe in working with nature and using any smart strategies for less work and more food from my garden!”
From my experiences over 7 1/2 years, moon gardening provides many benefits over just planting at any time during the month:
- Seeds definitely germinate sooner. So you can speed up the time taken to get crops on the table. Root vegetables and bulbs also shoot more quickly.
- Plants appear to grow faster and are healthier. When comparing plants sown at the optimum time to those that weren’t, I have noticed they are larger, more robust and not weak and straggly like the others.
- Plants produce higher yields (I’m all for that!); and
- Plants have less pests because they are stronger. This minimises the need for intervention to fix a problem + the cost and time it takes for pest management. Love that!
How to Plant and Garden using a Moon Calendar
So how DO you moon garden or plant by the moon exactly? The method I use, is to follow the moon phases on a simple, easy-to-use moon calendar. I set the new moon date at the start of each month and use it year after year. It tells me exactly what activities to do at different times of the month.
To buy your own moon calendar, click on the calendar below:
To start working with moon phases, on the first of the month, all I do is align the new moon symbol on the calendar wheel (green) to the date of the new moon for the current month. I leave it set in that position until the next month. There are a few annual moon calendars available, but I like this one because:
- you don’t have to buy a new one EVER again (less waste, more sustainable and cheaper!);
- it never goes out of date and is SO easy to use; and
- it applies to any climate, anywhere in the world.
How Can Moon Gardening Benefit You?
The key benefit is TIMING. One of the practical things I use the moon calendar for is to show me when to apply liquid fertilisers, so the plants make the most of them. i.e. taking up the plant food when the sap is running strongly.
Watch this Video about Moon Gardening
Learn what Helen C of Sydney, Australia has to say about her experiences with moon gardening and using a moon calendar.
If you use sprays, this moon calendar also indicates when to apply them for pests, weeds and diseases for optimum effect. By applying at the best time, you can save money by not wasting product. You can optimize the benefits of using it by getting your timing right.
It also helps you to pace your garden activities throughout the month. You don’t always have to be planting – just try to plant at the BEST time. I use the moon calendar to plan the best dates for sowing what I intend growing. I’m a more organised gardener now!
Other Benefits of using a Moon Calendar are:
It provides you with directions for the optimum time to:
- sow and plant above ground crops (such as salad greens, tomatoes, peas, beans, melons, cucumber etc);
- sow and plant root crops (including carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic, bulbs etc);
- take cuttings when sap run is high to produce strong growth;
- graft and plant fruit trees and ornamentals;
- sow flowers;
- divide and repot house plants;
- achieve quick germination and a rapid growth spurt of edible sprouting seeds and microgreens;
- prune, weed and harvest;
- cultivate and apply fertiliser; and
- even go fishing for best results!
A few last tips …
- I’m certainly not fanatical about rigidly doing everything by the moon – the reality is, that life happens! I use it as much as I can. But, if it’s more important to get a pot bound plant into the ground for example, then I don’t wait for the perfect moment! I’ve had to rescue plants what would have turned into dried arrangements just to save them and plant at the ‘wrong time’ of the month. That’s common sense gardening!
- Sometimes the weather means I have to make a decision to plant earlier than is ideal. At other times, I don’t want to wait until the absolute best time in the following month, because it will be too late in the season to sow.
“So, use your common sense about making decisions in your garden … these choices are just as important as moon gardening too.”
So, I hope I’ve given you something to think about – and perhaps shed a little ‘light’ on a new secret weapon to use! You’ll certainly save money and time in the garden using a moon calendar. You can BUY YOUR OWN HERE.
If you’ve already been moon gardening, I’d love you to share your experiences or if you have questions, please leave a comment.
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© Copyright Anne Gibson, The Micro Gardener 2016. https://themicrogardener.com. All rights reserved.