Gardening with Laurie: Planting by the moon has been used from beginning of time

By Laurie Garretson
Feb. 16, 2012 at midnight
Updated Feb. 15, 2012 at 8:16 p.m.

Laurie Garreston

Laurie Garreston

Organic gardeners tend to work closer to nature than gardeners who use chemical products. After all, organic gardening is simply a method that copies nature.

One tradition that many gardeners use in their gardening practice is planting by the moon. This practice has been used since the beginning of time, being passed down through many generations.

The moon's orbit around our planet affects many actions here on Earth. The moon causes the rising and falling tides, influences groundwater tables, affects air currents on the Earth's surface and the occurrence of thunderstorms. The moon cycles can even affect the movement of the fluids in all plants.

It seems to make sense that because the moon's position can affect the movement of all bodies of water on our planet, it also makes a big difference in gardening. Water plays a very big part in growing all things.

Rainfall, like the tides, is affected by the cycles of the moon. The gravitational pull of the moon also affects the air currents on the surface of the planet. Plants are very sensitive to the slightest fluctuation in the wind.

From planting a seed to when you mow your lawn can all be affected by the moon cycles. All these factors and more are why many gardeners and farmers believe planting with the phases of the moon makes sense.

The moon goes through a complete cycle every 29 days. For gardening purposes, the cycles have been divided into four cycles or phases. These phases are represented by the appearance of the moon as viewed from Earth. The first phase is referred to as the new moon, when nothing is visible.

Next comes the first quarter when half the moon is visible, followed by the third quarter that is known as a full moon. After the full moon, the fourth quarter is again back to the new moon. These phases are referred to as the waxing and waning of the cycles.

Times from the new moon to the full moon, as the moon appears from nothing to a full circle, are known as the waxing times. This is a time of increased moon light. It is thought that during this light time, the sap in plants flows better, giving plants better energy and vitality. This is the favorable time to plant and harvest crops that mature above ground.

Times from the full moon to the new moon, as the moon appears full circle to nothing, are known as the waning times. This is a time of decreased moonlight.

The waning phase is the time when the water table has dropped to its lowest point. There is less moisture in the soil at this time. This is a time to plant all crops that grow below the ground: carrots, potatoes, beets and turnips. This moon phase encourages root growth.

The full effects of planting with the moon's cycles is not fully known, but we do have evidence that planting with certain phases does produce healthier plants and higher yields.

It has also been proven, time and again, that planting by the phases and position of the moon is most effective when gardening organically. Use compost and natural fertilizers, and remember to always garden as nature does.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.



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