While science has yet to provide definitive proof that the practice works, humans have been planting, harvesting, fishing and even cutting their hair according to the phases of the moon for millennia. It’s a practice that dates back to the early civilizations of the Nile and Euphrates river valleys, and plenty of folks still do it today.
It’s no secret that the sun and the moon exert gravitational forces on our blue planet. Tides are typically highest during the full moon and the new moon phases, and tests have proven that seeds absorb the most moisture during a full moon. Try it out if you’re looking to give your gardens a little extra edge, or give it a go just for fun. Here’s an overview of how to plant by the phases of the moon.
Moon phases are set up in quarters. The first two quarters are during the waxing of the moon, meaning that the moon is moving toward full. The second two quarters are when the moon is waning toward total darkness, or a new moon.
The basic idea of planting by the phases of the moon is that the full and new moons draw moisture into the topsoil (just as they result in higher tides).
This is the best phase to plant above-ground crops, such as lettuce, spinach, cauliflower and grains—basically, anything where seeds form outside of the plant.
This phase has less gravitational pull but more light. It is the time for faster leaf growth. Ideal planting is during the two days before the full moon. These should be plants with seeds that form internally, like beans, melons, peas and tomatoes.
This is when the most moisture is pulled into the topsoil, providing maximum energy to the roots. It’s said to be the optimal opportunity for planting root crops, such as beets, carrots, onions and potatoes.
This resting period is when you should focus on such tasks as cultivating, harvesting, transplanting and pruning.
Along the way, other practices developed based on the cycle of the moon. Mowing grass during the first and second quarters is said to encourage growth, while mowing during the third and fourth quarters will slow growth. The same applies to cutting your hair: it is believed that hair cut during the waxing moon grows faster, while hair cut during the waning moon grows slowly.
Even anglers are paying attention to the moon. Once again, the days around the new moon and full moon are the top times for fishing. Also, just as fish tend to feed at sunrise and sunset, they also feed around moonrise and moonset.
And, of course, there’s no shortage of moon folklore, developed over the centuries mostly by farmers, who are typically tuned in to their environments. Here are a few things that have emerged over the years:
- Rail fences cut as the moon wanes from full are said to stay straighter.
- Castrating and dehorning should also be done during the waning moon for less bleeding.
- Horseradish is most flavourful when dug up during the full moon.
- Tasks that require strength or fertility or are intended to promote growth, such as cutting firewood, digging holes and hosting a party, are best done between the new and full moon.
- The period between the full moon and the new moon is ideal for harvesting, slowing growth, weaning, potty training, quitting smoking, brewing beer and even getting married.
Planning by the phases of the moon is an interesting way to organize your life, from gardening to booking your next trip to the beauty salon. At the very least, it will help make you more aware of the world around you and bring you a little bit closer to the rhythms of nature. At best, well, try it and see.