Gardening By the Moon: Plant Magic or Myth?

Gardening by the moon is an age-old method of garden planning that has been used for centuries – but does it really work? Here are some interesting facts about planting by the moon…

Old-timers who garden have likely heard of gardening by the moon, but many modern gardeners are likely not familiar with this method.

Gardening by the moon relates to using the cycles of the moon to time your plantings, and this method of garden planning has been used by gardeners for centuries. Some gardeners still swear by this method, but is there any scientific proof that it works, or is it simply superstition?

The article below discusses some interesting facts about gardening by the moon. It may sound a bit magical at first, but when you think about it, everything in the universe is connected, so why wouldn’t planetary factors influence how things grow? While there may not be much scientific evidence, there is certainly no harm in trying it out for yourself. Who knows – you could end up with your best garden yet!

How It Works

The same gravitational force that creates the tides and brings the sea turtles ashore to lay eggs, also cause crops to grow. When the moon wanes, and its light and gravitational pull decreases, the Earth’s gravity kicks in and root crops bear happily in the ground.

However, don’t plant anything on the dark of the moon (new moon). This is the time when plants should rest. It is a good time to kill weeds, because they will not grow back.
There are a number of things to keep in mind when planting by the moon.

During a waxing moon, the light increases toward a full moon. This is a great time for sowing and transplanting flowering annuals, biennials, grains, and melons. Any short-lived plant that you want to harvest for its leaves, seeds, flowers, or fruits.

It’s also a good time to apply liquid fertilizer, prune, or graft to produce new growth more quickly.

During a waning moon, the light decreases as the moon goes from a full to a new moon. This is the time the energy focuses on the roots, which is a perfect time to plant root crops and perennials.

Apply solid fertilizers and compost at this time. You can also prune dormant plants and harvest. It is less likely that your harvest will rot.

The New moon (from new moon to the first quarter) is best for sowing or transplanting leafy annuals. These are plants where we value or eat the leaves or stem, like lettuce, spinach, cabbage, and celery.

The first quarter phase is most suited to fruiting annuals (not fruit trees) where we value or eat the fruit or seed-bearing part of the plant, like tomatoes, pumpkins, broccoli, and beans.

Full moon (from full moon to the third quarter) is best for sowing or planting root crops, as well as fruiting perennials, like apples, potatoes, asparagus, and rhubarb. You can also take cuttings and divide plants.

In the last quarter phase, avoid planting and focus on improving your soil. Weed, mulch, add compost and manure teas, and create new garden beds. It is also a good time to weed and take care of pests.

Do not sow, plant, or prune 12 hours before or after the transition from one phase to the next.


The Science?

There is very little, if any, scientific evidence that planting by the moon has any validity.

Scientists haven’t tried to study this stuff, because it is believed to be a myth.

However, there has to be a physical reason why the moon’s different phases affect soil properties, soil temperature, moisture content, precipitation, which are physical factors that make seeds germinate. And that isn’t documented!

The scientist explained that the tidal forces—the gravitational pull of the moon—would be there, but the amount would be so small that it would not affect a plant’s processes.


So why is it that so many farmers and gardeners plant by the moon? Perhaps it is not for us to ask why or how, but to simply enjoy the abundance of our homegrown food and medicine.



Let us know – have you tried gardening by the moon? What was your experience? Chime in on our Facebook page and share your opinion!


Rose S.

An avid gardener since childhood, I love sharing my passion for gardening with others! I have gardened in a number of different climates and settings, from large fenced garden plots, to tiny patio and container gardens, and I firmly believe that everyone can learn to grow at least some of their own food - no matter where you live. Growing your own food can help you take control of your own health and food supply, and there has never been a better time to get started!

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