May the force be with you

MoonIt seems that more gardeners today are turning to the moon for advice on the best time to plant, prune, weed, and harvest. The practice, known as moon or lunar gardening, is cultivating a quite a following. This method of gardening has been practiced by many for hundreds of years, and is a perfect compliment to organic gardening because it is more effective in non-chemically treated soil.

It is believed that the technique of gardening by the phases of the moon can speed the germination of your seeds by working with the forces of nature.

Plants respond to the same gravitational pull of tides that affect our oceans. The moon also influences the groundwater tables beneath our feet, which alternately stimulates root and leaf growth. Seeds sprout more quickly, plants grow vigorously and at an optimum rate, harvests are larger and they don’t go to seed as quickly.

At the phase of the new moon, the lunar gravity pulls water up, and causes the seeds to swell and burst. This factor, coupled with the increasing moonlight, creates balanced root and leaf growth. This is the best time for planting above ground annual crops that produce their seeds outside the fruit. Examples are lettuce, spinach, celery, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and grain crops. Cucumbers like this phase also, even though they are an exception to that rule.

In the moon’s second quarter the gravitational pull is less, however, the moonlight is strong, this creates strong leaf growth. This is on the whole a good time for planting, especially two days before the full moon. The types of crops that prefer the second quarter are annuals that produce above ground, but their seeds form inside the fruit, such as beans, melons, peas, peppers, squash, and tomatoes. Mow lawns in the first or second quarter to increase growth.

The energy is drawing down as the moon wanes after the full moon. During this phase more moisture is created in the soil as the gravitational pull is high, but the moonlight is decreasing, putting energy into the roots. This is a favourable time for planting root crops, including beets, carrots, onions, potatoes and peanuts. It is also good for perennials, biennials, bulbs and transplanting because of the active root growth. Pruning is best done in the third quarter, in the sign of Scorpio.

PlantThe fourth quarter is considered a resting period as there is decreased gravitational pull and moonlight. This is also the best time to cultivate, harvest, transplant and prune. Mow lawns in the third or fourth quarter to retard growth.

Personally, I have no idea whether this method works or not, but it may be worth experimentation. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, spring planting here in Kefalonia, is well on the way. However, in February/March next year it may be worth a try. I tend to follow the gardeners and farmers in the surrounding fields. I was even reprimanded last year for putting in my onions 2 weeks late.

All I can say is that there was a flurry of potato planting on 14th and 15th February this year so who knows!!

Marlene Bowley