Waxing, waning, new, full…..maybe you are thinking that we should leave the moon phases to the astronomers. But I want to share with you what moon phase gardening is all about, and then you can decide for yourself if this may be a growing method you want to try.
What Is Moon Phase Gardening
Moon phase gardening is an ancient gardening method that follows the the cycles of the Moon and how they affect plant growth. Just as the Moon’s gravitational pull causes tides to rise and fall, it also affects moisture in the soil. Therefore, it’s said that seeds will absorb more water during the full Moon and the new Moon, when more moisture is pulled to the soil surface. This causes seeds to swell, resulting in greater germination and better-established plants. (Okay, I’m listening!)
Moon phase gardening, or gardening by the moon, takes into account two periods of the lunar cycle: 1) the time between the new moon and the full moon (the waxing of the moon), and 2) the time between the full moon and the new moon (the waning of the moon). It’s considered best to plant certain types of plants during the waning of the Moon and other types during the waxing.
But that isn’t all. The moon also impacts plant growth. All roots grow downward in the direction of gravitational pull and all stems grow upward toward the sun. Even though the sprouting seed is underground, it grows naturally in the opposite direction of its roots. Consider seedlings. When you place a seed underground, you may not always have it facing the right direction. That is okay because if it is positioned incorrectly, it will turn itself around and send its shoots upward, even though it’s in total darkness. Why is that?? It is because of geotropism—which is how plants grow in response to gravity. Roots grow downward in the direction of gravitational pull and stems grow in the opposite direction.
Gardeners who rely on planting by the moon’s phases are convinced that this ancient tradition produces healthier, more vigorous plants and bigger crops. Many gardeners agree that planting by the moon really works. Others think moon phase gardening is pure myth. You be the judge!
How To Plant By the Moon’s Phases
This is pretty simple, and there are only two steps, but it is important to understand the distinction between the two to make sure you get the benefits of moon phase gardening.
#1 Plant Above Ground Crops During the Waxing of the Moon
Plant your annual flowers and fruit and vegetables that bear crops above ground (such as corn, tomatoes, watermelon, and zucchini) during the waxing of the moon—from the day the moon is new to the day it is full. As the moonlight increases night by night, plants are encouraged to grow leaves and stems.
#2 Plant Root Crops During the Waning of the Moon
Plant flowering bulbs, biennial and perennial flowers, and vegetables that bear crops below ground (such as onions, carrots, and potatoes) during the waning of the moon—from the day after it is full to the day before it is new again. As the moonlight decreases night by night, plants are encouraged to grow roots, tubers, and bulbs.
Let’s tease this out a bit to make it a bit more clear. Here is a question to help. What is your goal when you plant a seed that is going to produce a crop above ground? It is to sprout the seed right?? So when the seed sprouts it needs LIGHT, when the moon is waxing it is producing light all night long, more so than when it is in the waning phase of the cycle. See the chart above for detail. The waxing phase of the moon is from the new moon to the full moon. And likewise, when you plant root vegetables and bulbs, and perennials, what is the goal?? To develop strong roots right? And that happens underground where there is no light. The thought is that the darker the night sky, the more the plants are encouraged to do their work underground.
Other Considerations When Gardening By The Moon
You could easily refer to a calendar for the moon’s phases, but we also want to take one more thing into account. OUR CLIMATE!!! You have heard your mom say it a million times, and you have probably said it yourself a time or two. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. This definitely applies to moon phase gardening. Just because it is a full moon doesn’t mean that you should plant seeds. There are other things to take into account like the temperature of the soil, how long it will take the seed to germinate, and where the date falls in the growing cycle. I am going to share with you a few resources that have taken the guesswork out of this for us, but I am also going to share how to figure this out on your own too. It isn’t hard at all.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac is probably the most trusted resource for planting dates when following the moon phases. Their suggested planting dates factor in not only the moon phases but also growing zone, but there is still more to be done. If we want specific dates to plant or not plant, we will need to do a little bit of homework. Lucky for you, I have done it. And I can’t wait to share.
Let’s Plant By The Moon
So if we factor in planting dates based on our climate, above ground crops and root vegetables, growing zone, weeks to frost, and seed to harvest length in addition to moon phases, we can get a pretty good idea of some good dates to get things in the ground. Let’s look at the moon phase calendar for August just for clarification and get some dates picked!
Step One: Find the Waxing Phase for the month
The waxing phase of the moon is from new moon to full moon. September 18th – September 31.
Step Two: Consider Planting Recommendations Based on Climate
For most fall vegetables, the earliest recommended date to plant is September 1st.
Step Three: Consider Only Above Ground Crops
In the waxing phase we focus on above ground and leafy crops. In the fall that is broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, Swiss chard, collards, lettuce, mustard, and spinach. (and more)
Step Four: Factor In Climate
It is still really hot in August, and because these are cool weather crops, they won’t be happy out there just yet. So what can we do? We can start seeds indoors for some. For others, we have to wait. Remember, just because we can doesn’t mean we should.
Step Five: Consider Seed To Harvest Lengths
With an average of 75 day growing seasons, these veggies need a few months to be ready to pick.
Step six: determine what we will plant
Taking the recommended earliest planting date for above ground crops, the moon phase, our climate, and seed to harvest lengths into consideration, only starting some crops by seed during this moon phase is the best way to take advantage of the moon phase, yet still keep the cooler temperature loving veggies happy.
My recommendation is to plant broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, swiss chard, collards, and brussels sprouts during this moon phase. I also recommend planting any annual fall flowers or veggies that can stand the heat directly into the garden during this moon phase too. Everything else will just have to wait.
One final note is that we want to plant early into the phase if possible. That is because the benefit of moon phase gardening is the light and gravitational pull of the moon during these phases. If we wait until the end of the phase to plant, we will miss those benefits.
Planting Dates This Month
Okay, I know this is what you want. Did you just scroll all the way down and skip the rest?? It is okay if you did. Here are my planting dates for September and what I will be planting then.
September 2nd – September 16th – Direct seed all root veggies now. Carrots, radishes, beets, turnips, onions, and garlic can be planted now.
September 19th – September 30th – Plant flowering seeds and plants like calendula, nasturtium, sunflowers, marigold, chamomile in the garden. These flowers like warm soil to germinate, so getting them started now will give them a jump on the season. Planting vegetable seed from beans, kale, and all leafy greens directly into the garden. Plant all transplants of broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, chard, and cabbage into the garden now.
Gardening is a journey of growing, and the plants aren’t the only thing that grows if you know what I mean. We grow right along with those veggies, learning and maturing in wisdom and knowledge and gaining new perspective about nature and the world we live in. We are able to see the Creator in so many ways when we are in the garden, and now we can see Him in the moon as well. It is a beautiful thing!
Need More Help In The Garden?
If this all sounds great to you, but you still feel like you need more help to achieve the backyard garden of your dreams, there are several options for you below!! Please reach out! I would love to get my hands dirty with you this season.