Moon gardening is a practice that may be as old as gardening itself. For thousands of years, gardeners have carefully scheduled their crop plantings around the lunar calendar, believing that certain moon phases encourage certain plants to grow. So does it work? The short answer is yes! Let's take a look at the science behind lunar gardening so you can decide whether it is right for you and your garden.
How Does Moon Gardening Work?
Early gardeners didn't know why moon gardening worked, but they noticed that their crops grew better when they planted them during certain lunar phases. Now that scientists understand concepts like gravity, we’re able to explain why scheduling your gardening activities by the lunar clock can be so effective.
The moon exerts a strong gravitational pull on our planet. Anyone who lives by the sea sees the effects of the moon's gravity in action every day, as the tides wash in and out. High tides are higher and low tides lower during a full or new moon, when the moon and the sun work together to pull the oceans up from the planet's surface. At other points in the lunar cycle, the moon and the sun pull in different directions, flattening out the swell of the tides.
The moon's gravity doesn't only affect water in the oceans. It pulls just as strongly on moisture in the soil, causing it to rise to the surface. Moon gardeners believe that this encourages seeds to absorb more water and grow more effectively.
How to Get Started With Moon Gardening
The first step in getting started with moon gardening is to learn which plants respond best to being planted during particular phases of the moon. According to experienced moon gardeners, root crops, such as beetroots, carrots, onions and potatoes, as well as perennials and bulbs, thrive when they are planted during or just after the full moon. During this lunar phase, moisture content in the soil is high due to the moon's strong gravitational pull. As the moon wanes, the amount of moonlight decreases, encouraging plants to put down strong and healthy roots.
Moisture content is also high during the new moon phase, when the moon is absent from the sky or visible only as a thin sliver. This is the time to plant above-ground crops that produce seeds outside the fruit, such as lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, celery, and cauliflower. As the moon waxes, the increasing moonlight will encourage these crops to create large leaves.
Leaf growth continues as the moon waxes during the second quarter of the lunar cycle. This is highly beneficial for above-ground crops that form their seeds inside the fruit, such as tomatoes, beans, peas, squash, and peppers. This is also a good time to mow your lawn, as the grass will grow back thick.
The fourth quarter, which occurs just before the new moon, is a resting period for your garden. Moonlight and moisture content are relatively low during this time. Take the chance to harvest vegetables, prune back plants, and transplant seedlings. If you're keen to slow down the growth of your lawn, this is also a good time to mow.
Tracking the Phases of the Moon
With our hectic modern lifestyles, it is easy to lose track of the phases of the moon. Make sure you're never left wondering what you should be doing in your moon garden by investing in a moon clock. Choose from compact desktop forecast stations with moon phase symbols or traditional moon phase clocks in modern metallic finishes for a dedicated moon phase monitoring tool.
These handy devices tell you exactly which phase of the lunar cycle you are in. You can find out at a glance whether the moon is currently waxing, waning, new, or full, which means you will know exactly which crops you need to plant now and which garden maintenance tasks you can put off until next week.
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