Hello, my friend!
How are things growing with you? Can’t you wait for digging in the dirt as I am?
What do you do with that nagging impatience then? 🙂
I visited my mom yesterday. Being obsessed with gardening and growing edible plants in particular, she can’t wait to start playing with seeds. You know that feeling, right? When you want something so urgently that you ignore all the necessary details and just WANT IT RIGHT NOW!!! The feeling similar to being in a desert for so long that your thirst is so overwhelming that you lose all possible patience and yell out loud – GIVE ME SOME FREAKING WATER!
The same urge has infected my mom too … she recently filled up plastic cells in the seed trays with the light soil mix, wrapped them with a plastic film and kept asking when she could start! Well, frankly speaking, it was me who encouraged her to act sooner because we had been late with seed starting for the past two springs. Later on, during the growing season, the seedlings took seemingly longer to reach maturity. We had to pick up the harvest later when the danger of early frosts was quite serious, as vegetables were still green on the vines and needed whether to stay warm for a bit longer.
But this time we have decided to plan in advance. Keep in mind, my mom is 85 now and she starts forgetting whatever she once knew years before from her life-time experience of running a vegetable garden.
I said: “Mom, I remember you always were aware of what phase the Moon is in today.”
She replied: “Well, but then it was enough to step on the porch late at night and see where the stars are on the sky and how delightful the Moon is. When I could run to the outhouse without turning on the outdoor lights the Moon was Full. When it was dark so much that I scared to step outside the Moon meant to smile in the New phase”
Recalling that she truly paid attention to the Moon phases, especially at the times of sowing and planting, she agreed that we needed to review the Moon calendar in advance before dealing the seeds.
I believe there is something romantic about how the moonlight highlights the garden overall along with each plant in particular. I have no idea why when we draw the Moon ... that for some reason, we never put a smile on it.
By observing the seasons, and the activity of the flora and local weather patterns, people of the past would notice managing their lives in accordance to how the Moon navigates around the Earth improved the growth and productivity of your vegetables and herbs.
Our ancestors lived in close relationship with Nature, and carefully watched lunar behaviours. I am excited to share with you what I learn from ancient people that walked barefoot and lived before we built concrete jungles on precious lands where they used to grow delicious foods. So here is how you can apply the archaic study of the moon phases to planning seed planting.
The seeds of each particular crop germinate and grow to produce mature seedlings in certain time periods. For example, some varieties of tomato seeds need roughly 6 weeks to grow mature and be ready to be transplanted to the ground seedlings. So let’s apply reverse engineering here. We can’t transplant the seedlings before the last danger of frost has passed. That’s why we have to find an approximate date in the planting calendar where the last frost might bring a surprise. With some slight risks involved the last frosts might occur between May 11 and 20. Why is it a risk do you wonder? Well, Nature does not work in an automated regime with German engineering precision* … it might warm up the soil earlier and it might bring the last cold surprise in June … so we should leave some frivolity in the number of days to wait.
Next, we count about 6 weeks backwards from the last frost date. Don’t select one particular day, you will see why later. We end up on March 30 - April 8 period. And then we pull up the Moon calendar to see when during this period or close to it the Moon will be in waxing phases.
Why exactly in the waxing period you may wonder?
You might have learned in school that tides occur because of the gravitational pull from the moon. Since the plants are mostly made up of water, the moon also directly impacts their growth and development.
When the Moon is in a rising period its gravitational pull is the mightiest and moonlight shines to its peak. Both of these magical forces stimulate leaf growth. This is why the seeds of the above-ground fruit-bearing crops will gain an additional boost. Imagine that some invisible power pulls the seeds by the hair. That's exactly how the gravitational force works on the seeds in the raising phase.
So for the crops that grow fruits above the ground (e.g. tomato, pepper, cucumber, cabbage, lettuce, zucchini, pumpkin), we have to sow seeds when the Moon is in waxing period (from the day when Moon is new to the day it is full).
The seeds of crops that bear fruits below the ground (e.g. carrot, beet, potato, turnips, radish) have to be sown when the Moon wanes (from the day when Moon is full to the day it is new). In the waning period, the amount of moonlight decreases. And gravitational pull slows down too, making roots to grow active.
In accordance with the lunar calendar, the New Moon falls on March 24 and Full Moon comes up on April 7 this year. As you can see March 30th falls in the Moon raising phases. So we can start sowing on that date. Of course, you don’t have to start exactly on March 27. You can open your seed packs and start playing with them any day between March 24 and April 6, the sooner in this period the better.
Of course, it's up to you to accept or ignore the Moon signs and let the wolves howl. Still, if you don’t want to waste your time praying every night for the good growth of your food plants, use lunar help to bring a productive harvest this year.
Peace from the Moon,
PS. Here is what might happen when you attempt to understand how the moon impacts our life on Earth… I did dive deep into the scientific details about why and how the Moon affects the life of the plants here. But if you have got any questions while reading my above thoughts let me know in comments and I will be happy to answer them
PPS. With the friendly attitude to Nature and with the simplicity in mind I am working on building an online community to help food growing enthusiasts like you to navigate through the season. Want to have fun to create such a gang? Join the limited list of founding members here.