Even ancient man knew the relationship between the moon cycle and the zodiac. They learned through observation that the position of the stars and the moon had an affect on their crops. Some positions benefited plant growth and harvest while other positions hindered progress. Today this information is once again being used to create a holistic approach to gardening.
To understand this approach one must first understand the lunar cycle. The moon cycle occurs every 29 days and starts with the new moon. From this point, the light of the moon becomes brighter or it goes through its waxing phases. These phases continue all the way to the full moon stage.
After the full moon stage, the light begins to decrease or it goes through its waning phases. These phases continue from the full moon until a new moon is reached. During these stages some of the phases overlap, such as the new moon and full moon but the key point to remember is whether the light is increasing or decreasing. This will help determine whether it is in a waxing or waning phase.
While the moon is going through its stages, it is also being placed in certain parts of the sky. This depends on the season of year it is but overall the moon cross every zodiac sign or constellation in the sky every 29 days. When this happens, certain garden chores will need to be done according to the stage of the moon and what zodiac sign it is crossing.
If this is a little complicated just remember that plants whose leaves you consume or above ground crops are planted during the waxing period and those root crops or below ground crops are tended to the waning period. The next step in the process is to understand the zodiac.
Every sign is considered an earth, water, air or fire symbol. Planting and/or pruning will need to occur during a fertile cycle that is represented by the earth or water symbol. Weeding and tilling will need to occur during a barren cycle that is represented by the air or fire symbol.
The zodiac signs that are associated with the earth include Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. When the moon passes through one of these zodiac signs, it is time to prune vegetation to encourage root development. Since this sign is associated with root development, it is a great time to plant root crops such as turnips, beets, and potatoes.
Zodiac signs that are linked to the water sign include Cancer, Pisces, and Scorpio. When the moon passes through these constellations, it is a great time to plant above ground leafy crops. This includes spinach, lettuce, and kale.
Air sign is associated with Libra, Aquarius, and Gemini. When the moon crosses these zodiac constellations, it is generally considered a barren time. Harvesting and cultivating should occur during this time but there are exceptions. The Libra zodiac is considered to be semi-fertile, which means that plants with showy flowers and herbs should be planted during this time. Also, to increase yield, melons should be planted under the Gemini zodiac. Onions should be planted when the moon crosses into Aquarius.
This is also considered a time that is barren and dry in the garden but it is a good time to harvest. It is believed that harvesting during this time will prevent or at least reduce the fruits of ones labors from spoiling. While it is a barren time, it is a good time to plant ones seeds in the garden space. The zodiac signs related to fire include Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius.
What happens when there is a new moon or the sky is void of a moon? The answer is nothing. The moon is not traveling through any zodiac and in doing so is a time to rest. But be reassured that when that first crack of light appears again in the sky there will be plenty to do in the garden.
While some gardeners may feel that gardening by the moon and the stars is a little far fetched, it does have some scientific basis to it. Regardless of what the scientists say, our own species’ survival is testament to the validity of looking up and not only gardening by the heavens but as well as the natural rhythms of the earth.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mindy McIntosh-Shetter has been an Agricultural Science educator, and is a horticulture and/or environmental blogger who earned a degree from Purdue University in Agriculture Education with a minor in biology, and natural resources. Presently she is finishing up her Masters in Environmental Education and Urban Planning for the University of Louisville while working on her own agriculture/environmental blog.