Planting vegetables and flowers according to the cycles of the moon dates back to ancient times. It is believed that planting in the correct moon phase promotes healthy growth, enhances natural color and flavor, and supports an abundant harvest.
The lunar cycle consists of four phases: New moon, first quarter, full moon, and last quarter. The waxing moon – the period between the new moon and first quarter – refers to the period when the light from the moon increases; while the waning moon – from the full moon to the last quarter – refers to a decrease from the light of the moon. Each is thought to affect germination and growth in its own way.
Generally, gardening tasks performed during the waxing moon produce vigorous plants with lush foliage. Pruning at this time promotes rapid regrowth. Liquid fertilizer works quickly as the sap in plants is rising at this time. This is the time to perform routine pruning and fertilizing to promote healthy new growth.
During the waning moon, sap travels downward making it the ideal time for planting root crops or pruning to control growth. Now is the time to attend to overgrown shrubs and bushes that need extra control to maintain their shape and size.
The Four Phases
Sow or transplant leafy vegetables, such as chard, lettuce and spinach during the new moon. Flowering annuals, grains and melons should also be planted or transplanted at this time. The new moon speeds germination and promotes rapid growth.
Sow or transplant fruiting annuals during the moon’s first quarter. This includes tomatoes, peppers and zucchini.
This is the time to plant root crops, bulbs, perennials, trees, shrubs, vines and herbaceous perennials and grasses. This phase promotes good root development needed for storing energy. In the vegetable garden, this includes potatoes, carrots, turnip and radish.
No planting or transplanting at this time. Prune those overgrown shrubs and trees to curtail new growth and maintain their shape and size. Mowing the lawn at this time slows growth. Use the last quarter to attend to your soil needs by making compost or manure tea, but avoid planting or transplanting seedlings at this time.