Planting guide

Moon cycles

Moon planting guide

Planting by the cycles of the moon has been followed for centuries and does appear to have an influence on the health and viability of plants. It is possible to buy lunar calendars that track move phases day-by-day for an entire year.

One potential explanation is that the effect the moon has on water may control the movement of sap within the plants. When the moon is waxing i.e. heading towards a full moon, the sap is drawn up by the plant making it an ideal time for planting and foliar fertilising, as the nutrients will be transported throughout the plant. Inversely, when the moon is waning, the sap is drawn down focusing the energy to the roots of the plants. This is a good time to plant root crops and apply fertilisers to the soil.

New Moon

What happens in this phase?  (4 days)
The moon is aligned with the earth and the sun.  
The new moon phase gradually starts, and vitality is at  its lowest.  Gravity pulls tides and also pulls water up in the earth causing moisture to rise towards the surface.
What to do in the garden

This is a good time to prepare soil for the next high growth period coming ahead: 

  • Weed / Add compost / Fertilise
  • Do not sow, seed or plant during this time.
When to avoid?
12 hours before and after the new moon.
This is when the plants have the lowest energy. 

Waxing Moon

What happens in this phase?  (10 days)
In this phase moonlight gradually increases and with it the longest prolific period for all above ground crops starts.  Energy starts increasing and sap in plants keeps flowing up, which also increases leaf growth.
What to do in the garden.

Time to plant! 

  • Plant seeds & seedlings of above-ground crops e.g. leafy greens, grains, green manure, fruiting crops (beans, tomato, cucumber)
  • Foliar fertilise / Tip-prune shrubs
  • Best time for sowing and transplanting flowering annuals, biennials, grains and melons (i.e. short lived plants that we harvest the leaves, seeds, flowers or fruits).
  • Apply liquid fertilisers (taken up quickly)
  • Prune (new growth will be produced quickly)
  • Graft (increased sap flow leads to new growth more quickly
  • Sow or transplant fruiting annuals (ones we eat the fruits or seeds)- flowering annuals, grains and melons- sow annual grasses, green manures and apply liquid fertilisers.
When to avoid?

Don't plant:

  • 12 hours after the new moon and 
  • 2 days before the full moon.

Full moon

What happens in this phase?  (4 days)
The moon got to its peak of light and it's again alined with the earth and sun.  
The full moon also pulls tides (highest at these times) and also pulls on water in the earth causing moisture to rise towards the surface encouraging growth.
All living things, including plants, are at their peak of energy.
What to do in the garden.
As this phase is very short and energy very high, it is ideal for sowing plants that require quick germination and quick growth in a short period of time like edible sprouts and microgreens.

Don't plant other crops as growth will be weak and spindly.
When to avoid?
  • 12 hours after the full moon and 
  • 12 days before the full moon.

Waning moon

What happens in this phase?  (9 days)
Moon decreases in light and gravitational pull also decreases so sap starts settling into roots.  Energy starts decreasing so most of this period (except the two days at each end of the phase) is considered as a dormant or resting time.
What to do in the garden.

Although it's a dormant period for plants, it's one of the most active periods for gardeners.  As sap keeps flowing down, the first two days of this phase are good to:

  • Plant perennials that need to establish roots (fruit trees, asparagus and rhubarb, glove artichokes, strawberries, herbaceous perennials, bulbs and lawn grasses)
    Perennial plants have similar root systems to root crops in that they store carbohydrates and nutrients in the roots to get them through dormant periods as it favours root growth.
  • Plant seeds & seedlings of root crops (beets, carrots, onions potatoes)

Then, during the next 5 days of dormant period you can:

  • Add microbial solution to soil
  • Add fertiliser to soil
  • Harvest produce for longest shelf life
  • Take cuttings and divide plants
  • Improve soil (weed, mulch, make compost and manure teas.
    As germination is lower and regrowth slower, harvested crops are less likely to rot as sap flow is lower in the foliage of plants
  • Cut back vigorous growing shrubs and vines as regrowth will be less.

Considerations

If adhering to the lunar cycle, try to avoid doing anything other than watering 12 hours either side of each phase.

Being aware of the lunar cycle was something we would take into consideration but didn’t always follow strictly. It is another tool, and no single factor determines success.

If we had seedlings that needed to be planted, we planted them to prevent them becoming stressed and ‘leggy’. Similarly, if we had just prepped a garden bed, we would add soil solutions at that point (regardless of what stage in the lunar cycle it happened to be) and supplement with compost and fertilisers when they were required.
Northern hemisphere:
Using D O C formation
A half moon - shape D - is waxing
Full moon – O
Crescent moon - shape C – is waning
Southern hemisphere:
Using C O D
A crescent moon - shape C - is waxing
Full moon - O
A half moon - shape D - is waning