Growing up I was always fascinated with the moon. The beautiful silvery blanket of light made for magic evenings year round: whether listening to the background of crickets in the summer or admiring the glistening frost of winter, our lady of the night was always the highlight in the yard and garden. My grandmother gardened by a thirteen-month lunar calendar, and had a plan for each of the phases of the moon when it came to planting, tending or harvesting. By tradition of her heritage as a Native American, it came as second nature to follow the moon.
I learned early on the effects of the moon on the earth, as well as on us. That mysterious gravitational pull, like the ebb and flow of the tides it influences, touches our lives, and in turn, all that we grow and nurture.
The practice of observing the moon, and gardening by the moon is nothing new. By following the lunar phases, you can actually recreate a gardening practice that has been observed and used for thousands of years.
Our moon has a cycle that spans approximately 28 days, split evenly into the ‘waxing’ or filling of the moon (lasting two weeks), and the ‘waning’ or decreasing of light (again, lasting two weeks). While the moon is ‘waxing,’ there is an increase in the saturation (or moisture) of the soil. This is a good time for starting crops such as radish, spinach, and flowering annuals. Include fragrant plants (all herbs do the trick) in your sowing at this time to assist in natural pest control. Tilling and turning the soil is usually done now, so it fits perfectly with planting. The full moon represents the pinnacle of light and gravitational pull, with the ‘waning’ phase after. During the ‘waning,’ we come to a time of ease, and can plant perennials, biennials, bulbs and do some transplanting of starters that are ready to go into your garden: root veggies such as carrots and turnips. This is also the time of harvesting and weeding: better get those gloves on!
So, next time you check out that glorious moon coming up over the lake, remember how she’s that gentle force of nature always looking over our shoulder on those magic eves. Happy gardening!