Planting by the Moon

As a child I sometimes wondered if my Grandfather was a bit odd, for he planted his vegetables by the Moon! I later came to realise that he didn’t do it in a detailed fashion for he did not use an astronomical ephemeris in anyway; he just used the waxing and waning of the moon as a guide. Also he always tried to plant his potatoes by Good Friday. I used to presume that the Good Friday thing was simply because the religious holiday gave people the time to dig the potatoes in, but if you take a moment to think that Easter Sunday is always the first Sunday after the first full moon after the solar spring equinox, then that puts a different slant on things, for that religious festival is fixed by both the Moon and the Sun. Be that as it may, later still I went much further than my Grandfather in these matters and always tried to incorporate my planting and harvesting by the Moon as well as using an organic approach, within the confines and constraints of the prevailing weather!

The Moon does affect us all, for although it is largely statistical evidence, there are always more crimes of passion at times of full moon, recovery from surgery is oftimes more difficult when the Moon is full and, having worked as a psychiatric nurse, there are always more disturbed patients at that ‘lunatic’ time. For those of you who bake your own bread using live yeast and fresh untreated spring water, then you might find the bread slower to rise on certain days.

The Synodical Cycle

To take into account the possible influence of the Moon with regards to vegetables and fruit growing, the simplest cycle to take into account is the waxing and waning of our neighbouring satellite. It could be through the rising and falling of the moisture in the ground or in the plants themselves, but if crops are to be grown eventually for more immediate use then the lore suggests they are both planted and harvested during a waxing Moon, but if they are to be grown eventually to store over any length of time, then they should be both planted and harvested when the Moon is on the wane. This cycle takes 29.6 days to complete, which is the time taken for the Moon to complete one orbit around the Earth.

The Sidereal Cycle

The sidereal cycle takes 27.3 days to complete, which is the time taken for the Moon to pass through all of the signs of the Zodiac, passing through each constellation sign in turn in two to three days. The twelve Zodiac signs are categorised into four ‘elements’, these being earth, water, air and fire. The lunar lore uses the correspondence of the element with the type of crop being grown; therefore if a root crop is being grown its significance rests with the earth element. The significant element is water if a leaf crop is grown. If a flower crop is grown the corresponding element is air, and if a seed crop is grown then the element is fire.
The Biodynamic Cycle

This was developed by Rudolf Steiner in the early 1920’s. He added other astrological influences such as the position and aspects of Venus and Saturn and how all of these influences should be incorporated into the nurturing of the plants as they grow, not just at the seeding and harvesting times. Lunar nodal days[when the Moon crosses the Earth’s elliptical plane] are also not advantageous to plant growth and these are the slow rising bread days. The guide suggests no work at these times, but that is only with regards to your crops. Of course general weeding, digging over of beds, tidying up and the like are still permissible at these times.

When you also have to deal with a career and family commitments, let alone the vagaries of the weather, then I can only say “You pays your money – you takes your choice”. It really is a matter of balancing all the issues, and just because it is a root day, say, does not mean to say that what may be your only time slot available that week cannot be used for other types of crop. Be sensible.

The following guide mainly takes into account the first two cycles.