Growing by the moon. Is it loony?
Whats your view on the gardening habits of people who decide to plant their seeds according to the phases of the moon
? Are these poor souls completely barmy, or is the whole idea actually plain, simple common sense? If you are in tune with moon sowers, you will agree that plants sown just before the full moon are likely to become stronger and more productive than those sown on the wane
rather than the wax.
Does the full moon have a beneficial effect on growing plants?
Why could this be? According to the lunar theory (yes, thats where the rather derogatory term loony comes from - the Latin word for moon is Luna), the gravitational force of the full moon strongly affects the amount of water in the soil. We all know it causes tides to happen
. The pull of the moon is actually stronger than the sun because it is so much closer to planet Earth. The strongest pull happens when the moon and sun are at opposites sides of the earth at the full moon phase of the cycle. And high tides are also created when both the sun and moon are on the same side.
A high tide owes its existence to the moon.
If you need a little more detailed explanation it is this: the passing moon pulls the nearest sea towards it which means it is tugged away from the Earth. On the other side of the planet the Earth is pulled away from the water. So there are two tides created on opposite sides. This sucking up of water due to gravity also affects the moisture in the soil, meaning that the soil is able to hold more water during a full moon, then slightly less at the time of a new moon. This encourages seeds to sprout and grow
Seeds tend to sprout more if they are planted at an appropriate time.
There have been countless tests and experiments carried out to prove or disprove the theory and most agree that, although they might not be able to work out exactly why, the phases of the moon do have a growing effect on seedlings. In fact the harvest has shown that crops can increase in weight by around one third if they are sown on a waxing moon, close to a full moon.
Crops of carrots have shown to be far more luscious if the seeds were planted at the 'right' time.
So what have you got to lose? Try it yourself. The next full moon is 23 March. So if you are contemplating starting off some seedlings, this is what you can work towards.
When and what to sow
You can sow summer bedding
any time from now onwards, under cover, in a heated propagator or greenhouse. Also perennials
such as Aster and Stocks. Some seeds can even be sown outdoors, including wildflower mixes
, sweet peas and hardy annuals.
You can sow wild flowers on the waxing moon.
For the kitchen garden,
there are seeds that can be started off when the moon is with you. They need a bit of warmth and protection, but you can try the herb basil, also aubergines; brussels sprouts, cauliflowers, celery and chilli peppers. Pop them into the propagator
together with perennial herbs
including rosemary, sage, oregano and thyme. Even cucumber seeds and tomatoes can be sown.
Sow your tomato seeds with the waxing moon.
If you want to take the moon-planting idea one step further you might want to consider Rudolf Steiners Biodynamic methods
of planting. The founder of the anthroposophical movement related most of what happens in life to the relationship between science, nature, universal lawns and spiritual influence. Therefore there was deemed to be an interaction between the elements of earth, air, fire and water.
Each of these could be linked to specific plant parts. For example, the earth controls the roots, water affects leaf growth, fire affects seed production and air corresponds to the flowers.
Everything growing in the garden can be related back to bidynamics and astrology, if you believe in it.
How does this translate into planting crops? You would consider the astrological signs and plant accordingly. So in early March when the moon is in Scorpio, which is a water sign, its a good time to sow leaf plants such as cabbages, but not a good time to sow fruiting plants like broad beans.
Don't plant your cabbages until the moon says so!