This is my first run with owning my own farm, so my Grandfather has been teaching me some of the basics. Even in this age some farmers, like my grandpa, still stick to a few of the basics— one of the most stuck to is farming by the moon and the zodiac. While to some of you this might seem a bit hokey, I have been taught by an herbalist (and now my Grandpa!) to farm, make medicine, and to live by the moon. And why not? If the moon can influence the tide, why can’t it give you great tomatoes too?
Keep in mind that there are dozens of almanacs that suggest something different for each region of the state. Also, sometimes moon phases and weather do not link up— plant with the weather and the moon (even if you can’t use them together).
The moon and plants are very alike— they each have cycles of dormancy and growth. So why not plant in accordance to the growth cycle of the moon?
- The First Quarter- A Time for Germination — Steady Growth
This Quarter cycle starts with the New Moon. In this phase, the sun and the moon are aligned at the same angle, the moon’s light blocked by the sun. According to many almanacs, this phase of darkness is a time for starting anew, for beginning new projects, an to start endeavors that require growth. This is the ideal time for planting.
Plants that grow above ground are best planted during this quarter.
-The Second Quarter- The Growth of that Which is Planted— Leaf Growth
Halfway between the New and the Full Moon, the sun and the moon are at right angles to one another. This time, when light is starting to peek back out, is a time of growth for the seeds that have been planted during the New Moon.
During this time, plants whose seeds form within them (like melons, beans, etc.) are best planted. To increase growth in leafy things, like the lawn, mow during this time.
(**it is also rumored that if you want your hair to grow quickly, have it cut at this time**)
-The Third Quarter- The Time of Maturity and Completion— Root Growth
At the start of the Full Moon, this is the time when the moon and the sun are opposite of one another, the sun’s light fully illuminating the moon. During this time of light, the seeds that have been growing are reaching maturity. This is not the time to start projects, but to complete whatever you have already started. In this time, hasty actions can lead to failure. Also, this is a time when animals are moving and awake— deer and other garden pests are more active at this time, be wary of that.
As the gravitational pull of the moon increases at this time, the moisture in the soil is also increasing. That in mind, it is a great time for plants with deep running roots (like carrots, beets, etc.) to be put out. Plants with bulbs or transplants are best moved or planted on these days as well. This is also a good time for pruning and weeding.
There are some arguments between almanacs on composting on the third or fourth quarter. Personally, I am going with the fourth.
-The Fourth Quarter- The Time of Disintegration and Reflection— Rest
Between the Full and the New Moon, the sun and the moon are once again at right angles, light becoming less and less as the New Moon approaches once again. As the light fades away, so does the livelihood of the mature plants. It is important to honor this phase of growth as the land has given a great amount to be a home for your crop. In this time, it is great to give back to the soil by adding compost and other nutrient dense products to it. This is a time to appreciate what you have gathered and to reflect on your hard work.
This is a great time to harvest your plants, to prune, to weed, and to mow around your garden for stunted growth of grass.
The Moon Signs:
Each zodiac sign is aligned with an element as are plants. Things like root veggies are aligned with Earth, leafy veggies are aligned with Water, flowering plants are aligned with Air, and things with fruit are aligned with Fire. One could research this further, but it would take at least another wall of text. For easy reference, see this chart.
Aries (fire) — Barren
A time for starting things, but not in long-standing growth. This period of growth is rapid in it’s initiation but does not last. During this phase, green house work can be wonderful, but extensive work can lead to small, disappointing yields. Store roots and cultivate for pests and weeds. Harvest for root and fruit storage.
Taurus (earth)— Productive
When starting plants in this sign, remember that what is started will grow in abundance and can be hard to altar. Plant things that you want to use continually and that will flourish in excess— think mint and renewing plants like lettuces. This is a great time for planting and transplanting.
Gemini (air) — Barren
Like the two faces of this sign, things planted under Gemini are often inconsistent and changing. Things started now are often vulnerable to changing based on outward stimuli. For consistent growth, do not plant under this sign. Again, weed and work to rid your garden of pests at this time. harvest for root and fruit storage.
Cancer (water)— Productive **
My Grandfather swears by planting under the sign of Cancer. This is a time of great nurturing and good relationships between farmer and plants. This sign is often brings great growth and establishment in new plants. Most almanacs agree that this sign is the best for optimum growth. It is also a good time for plant irrigation and grafting.
Leo (fire)— Barren
This is a time for very showy plants to shine. In this time of barren land, it is a good time to examine your plants for pests, to spend time in your garden, and to become familiar with the plants you’re working with. I swear by flattering your plants while working with them. I have an aloe plant that grows away from the light and towards my bed simply because I compliment him every night.
Virgo (earth)— Barren
This sign is a time for details and commands. In this time, it is good to organize future endeavors as well as planning out the small details of your garden. Some flowering and vine rich plants prefer this sign, but as usual, stick to cultivating.
Scorpio (water) — Very Fruitful
Plants that are sturdy and have vines are often fond of this sign. Under this sign, transplant tomatoes. This water sign is a great one to start irrigation of to plant. It is also a sign for ending connections. That in mind, pruning under this sign can stunt the growth of weeds and encourage fruit in others. With moist soil, it is a good transplant sign as well.
Sagittarius (fire) — Barren
This sign celebrates the flow of existing life. This is a time to cultivate your soil as well as to set out Onion Sets and fruit trees. Harvesting roots and onions for storage are best done under this sign as well.
Capricorn (earth) — Productive
Root plants (like potatoes) are very appreciative of this sign. Under this sign, grafting and pruning as well as other healing practices are encouraged for plants. It is also said that this is a great sign for applying organic fertilizers. Things with structure grow well under this sign.
Aquarius (air) — Barren
A time for improvements, garden maintenance should be done. It is also a great time to get your home in order after spending so much time in the garden! Weed and do another pest sweep.
Pisces (water)— Productive
This is known as the second best sign for planting. With moist soil at your feet, it is a great time to irrigate and to transplant. Pisces is a sign known for reorganization. If your garden layout is not to your liking, transplanting is easily done under this sign.
Lywellyns Herbal Almanac
Jullian Ellis— Farming by the Moon report
Gardening by the Moon