We all know how to plant based on the sun. But did you know you can use the phases of the moon to help to determine the best time to plant your garden? Although the Farmers' Almanac has been printing a planting calendar based on moon phases for years, many home gardeners don’t know they can reap the benefits of planting by the moon, too.
According to Gena Lorainne, a gardening expert with Fantastic Services, the science behind moon phase gardening is the same that goes into the tides. The moon and the sun affect Earth's gravitation field, which creates the tides in large bodies of water.
“Just like bigger bodies of water, the moon has an effect on smaller ones as well,” says Lorainne. “It can cause the moisture in the soil to rise and encourage growth in plants.”
Some major benefits of gardening by the moon include quicker seed germination, faster growth in new shoots and sprouts, abundant harvest, and stronger plants with fewer pests and diseases.
The moon can also help you with more mundane tasks like weeding. You will find that you can actually pull weeds more easily during a full moon than a new moon, with all the phases in between being equal for ease of pulling weeds, thanks to more moisture in the ground.
So, when planning your gardening calendar, take a look at the status of the moon for stronger, more fruitful plants. Even if you just want to get your gardening tasks done ASAP, it may be worth waiting an extra week for the moon to be waxing rather than waning.
Using the Four Moon Phases for Vegetable Gardening
The four moon phases can be used in gardening, with each phase lasting around seven days each. Professional gardener Gena Lorianne outlines what to plant when, and when to do plant maintenance.
During this phase, the moon pulls the moisture from the soil up and causes the seeds to swell and sprout. Combined with the increasing moonlight, it also stimulates root and leaf growth. The new moon phase is suitable for planting above ground annual crops such as lettuce, broccoli, spinach, grain crops, and other leafy vegetables.
The moon's gravitational pull isn't as strong during the second quarter, but since the moonlight is stronger, leaves grow more vigorously. This phase is perfect for planting new greens, especially during the last two days of the phase—right before the full moon.
Gravitational pull is the strongest during a full moon. Moisture from the soil rises up, but right after the full moon, the lunar light decreases. This results in better root development, so this phase is perfect for planting root crops and bulbs.
This can be considered as a resting period due to the weakened gravitational pull and decreased lunar light. Instead of for planting, this phase is used for maintenance like transplanting, pruning, fertilizing and harvesting crops.