Gardening by the Moon

comments (0) November 7th, 2016

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WesternGardener Jodi Torpey, contributor
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Moon gardening helps vegetable gardeners find the best times to plant their gardens.Click To Enlarge

Moon gardening helps vegetable gardeners find the best times to plant their gardens.

Photo: John Pendleton

When I was in my first year as an apprentice master gardener, I had the chance to chat with some of the senior master gardeners and those with Emeritus status. That honorary title went to retired master gardeners in recognition of their years of service.

I remember one lively discussion with a woman who had been gardening for most of her 91 years. She told me she followed moon-favorable planting guides for knowing the best times to plant vegetables in her garden.

She mentioned her Slovakian mother believed in timing her planting to the phases of the moon. "I used to make fun of that, but I believe in it now," she told me.

Moon planting is an age-old idea that the moon has some influence on plants and how they grow. Gardeners use this idea to schedule crop plantings at certain times when it's thought the moon is in a favorable position.

Some gardeners believe there's a connection to planting, the moon's pull and its affect on tides; others think it may have something to do with the way the light affects seeds.

When the moon is waxing between a new and full moon, plants that grow their edible parts above ground (corn, peppers, tomatoes, etc.) are planted. When the moon is waning after the full moon and before the next new moon, plants that grow their edible parts below ground (parsnips, turnips, carrots, etc.) are planted.

Some master gardeners and Old Farmers may still believe in gardening by the moon, but researchers say science doesn't support the idea. However the idea makes sense considering that at one time gardeners had only the moon to help them keep track of the seasons.

If you'd like to give moon planting a try this month in your vegetable garden, you can time your plantings before or after November's Supermoon on November 14. The full moon then will be the biggest Supermoon in 70 years. 

Dates for planting aboveground crops are November 9 and 10; root vegetables November 17, 18, 26 and 27.

If it's too late in the season to plant in your region, consider moon planting for next year's vegetable garden. The 2017 edition of the Old Farmers' Almanac includes a complete moon planting guide.

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