Gardening by the Moon
So, what is gardening by the Moon exactly? No it is not rising at midnight, dawning your cat suit, dousing yourself in mosquito repellant, and grabbing a flood light. No, gardening by the Moon is the process of aligning your gardening to the Moon’s phases and/or the signs of zodiac. It is a fairly tried and true method and has been practiced for centuries. In fact gardening by the movement of the Moon was so well known that in the first century AD; Pliny wrote about it in his series, “Natural History,” and it is well known that Benjamin Franklin practiced it and it is still included in many Farmer’s Almanacs today.
There have been many studies on gardening by the Moon and evidence have shown about 10-15 percent improvements in crop yields, and overall quality, taste, color, and fragrance. If you would like to experiment simply plant the same kinds of seeds in the same kind of soil, with the same type and amount of water at different times. Plant one following the Lunar guidelines and one not following these guidelines. Carefully record the time it took the seed to germinate, how tall and healthy the young plant are and see which does better. This may be a fun and easy science fair project for students.
You may be asking yourself, how and why does Moon Gardening work? Well, the specifics aren’t exactly well known and most evidence comes from simple observation instead of more controlled scientific study; but the basic theory is that the same gravitational pull that increases the tides of the ocean at the New and Full Moons also affect the smaller bodies of water including ground water, and moisture residing in the soil. Though unperceivable by humans even continental land masses are said to rise 2 to 3 feet in elevation with the Moon! The highest amount of moisture found in the soil occurs during the New and Full Moons this added moisture allows plants to absorb more water and encourages seeds to germinate. Plants sown under the right phase of the Moon or the right Zodiac sign are healthier plants, more disease and pest resistant and harvests are often quicker and larger and plants don’t bolt and go to seed as fast.The gravitational pulls of the Moon are also said to affect weather patterns as well. Rainfall; tends to follow New and Full Moons. Another factor in gardening by the Moon is the Moon’s increased light. Even this dimmer version of light can increase plant growth
Gardening by the Moon will not only increase your yields and the quality of what you grow but it will aid you in becoming more aware of your garden, your plants growth, and the cycles of the Moon. It will help you forge a deeper connection to nature and a deeper appreciation of the food you consume, it can aid you in becoming more organized and adapt to plan ahead.
All you need to start gardening is a piece of Earth, (a nice pot and a bright window will suffice) something you’d like to grow and a good calendar or Almanac. I suggest either a Farmer’s Almanac, Seasons of the Witch day planner or many of the calendars and almanacs made by Llewellyn. Llewellyn makes figuring out the phases of the Moon and figuring out what zodiac sign the Moon is under easy but placing the symbols for them on the calendar. They also go a step further and have put on their calendar sprouting plants on days that are good to plant on and a sickle for days good to harvest on. Many other calendars can be found and purchased online. Some good websites that have online Lunar calendars are:
Planting by the Phases of the Moon
The easiest way to garden in alignment with the Moon is to simply go by the Moon’s phases. If you are a fairly aware person, all you will have to do is look out the window to find out what phase the Moon is in. Or you may consult a calendar or go online to http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/ for Moon Phases and Moonrise times. The Moon has 8 stages, New Moon, Waxing Crescent Moon, First Quarter Moon, Waxing Gibbous Moon, Full Moon, Waning Gibbous Moon, Third Quarter Moon, and Waning Gibbous Moon. A good website to visit that shows a detailed diagram of these different stages of the moon is: http://www.moonconnection.com/moon_phases.phtml. For simplicities sake we will go with the 4 most obvious stages of the Moon. These stages are called quarters, each quarter lasts about a week. The information on these is as follows.
First Quarter Moon: During this phase, the Moon is waxing (growing) from Dark to New and is starting to appear as a small sliver shaped crescent in the sky. The gravitational pull of the Moon is pulling water upwards and is causing seeds to swell and burst. Seeds sown at this time produce balanced root and leaf growth. Plant annuals producing their yield above ground and those that self seed, examples of this are asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cress, dill, endive, kohlrabi, lettuce, spinach, strawberries, sunflowers, poppies, annual flowers, cereals, grains , and herbs. Cucumbers are the exception and prefer this phase though they produce their seeds on the inside.
Second Quarter Moon: During this phase , the Moon is Waxing towards Full and appears half Full. The gravitational pull of this Moon is rather low but the increased Moonlight is strong and encourages leaf growth. It is generally a good time for planting crops with internal seeds such as beans, peas, peppers, tomatoes, squash, melons, and fruit trees. This is also a good time to mow your lawn or prune your trees to encourage growth and is also a good time to harvest for juicy, water –filled crops such tomatoes or melons. Do all planting just before or on the Full Moon but not after the Moon begins to wane.
Third Quarter Moon: During this phase, the Moon is Full but waning (decreasing). The gravitational pull of this Moon is high, creating more moisture in the soil, but the Moonlight is decreasing pulling the energies down to the roots. All vegetable root crops such as beets, garlic, ginger, radishes, onions, potatoes, and peanuts, do best when planted during this phase, as well as beautiful flowering bulbs. It is also a good time to transplant biennials and perennials because of the active root growth. Trees, shrubs, and berry bushes also do well if planted at this time. Plants absorb more water during the Full Moon so now would be an ideal time to give them a nice long drink and it is a good time to apply mulch and fertilizer. It is a good time to prune the cut ends will lose less moisture and sap during this phase.
Fourth Quarter: During this phase, the Moon appears half full but is decreasing and moving towards the Dark phase. The gravitational pull and the Moonlight itself are decreased. This phase is a good phase to let the garden rest and be dormant. Do not plant or transplant anything during this phase. instead it is time to attend to your garden chores such as cultivating, pulling weeds, destroying pests, cleaning and repairing tools, and harvesting. It is an especially good time for harvesting roots and bulbs. This phase is also a good time to prune and mow to discourage growth. Weeds pulled in this phase or less likely to grow back!
Planting by the Signs of the Zodiac
Many or dare I saw most of you are aware of the 12 signs of the zodiac, most of you have read your daily horoscope, or casted your chart, many of you upon hearing a birthday will be compelled to check what sign that person falls under and if perhaps their sign is compatible with yours. Most are aware of the 30 day stay the Sun makes in each sign. But the Moon has a considerably shorter cycle and stays in one sign for approximately two and a half days. This bodes well as you will not have to wait long to plant your crops or do the corresponding garden chores. The Moon and Sun signs are actually opposite of each other, when the Sun is in Pisces for example the Full Moon will be in Virgo.
The signs of the Zodiac are divided into four Elemental groups, Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Signs that are under the influence of Water are generally considered the most fruitful of the signs; these include Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces. The Earth signs are also considered fertile signs and are Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn. These signs are optimal for planting and transplanting and for pruning or cutting back of any sort to encourage growth. The Barren signs of the Zodiac are the Air and Fire signs, under the influence of these signs it is best to cultivate, destroy weeds and pests, harvest and prune or cut back to discourage growth. The Air signs are Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius. The Fire signs include: Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius.
The Zodiac signs can be combined with the Lunar phases to produce very effective gardening. For example you may choose to plant your watery, viney vegetables under the sign of Cancer during the Second Quarter to produce extra juicy vegetables. You may wish to transplant under the sign of Pisces during the Third Quarter to produce healthy root growth. You may wish to remove weeds under the most barren sign of the whole zodiac Leo during the Fourth Quarter to ensure that they will not grow back!
Moon in Aries: Ram, Fire, Masculine dry and semi- barren.
This sign is used for destroying weeds and pests as well as cultivating the soil, mowing and pruning to deter growth. This sign is great for harvesting roots fruits and herbs especially or long storage. It is not a good time to plant; plants germinated at this time are bitter tasting and quick to blot. The exception to this is pungent-flavored plants such as garlic, onions, beets and tobacco.
Moon in Taurus: Bull, Earth, Feminine, moist and productive.
Number one sign for planting root crops, also good for all planting and transplanting. Seeds planted in Taurus produce hardy plants with excellent roots, sturdiness and plants that can withstand drought. Sow beautiful flowers, lettuce, cabbage, spinach and similar leafy vegetables. Do not plant ivies or other vines.
Gemini: Twins, Air, Masculine, dry and barren.
Used for destroying weeds and pests. Good sign for mowing, and cultivating. Planting in Gemini will result in long, stringy, weak plants. Do not plant or transplant, the only exception is melons. Gemini is an excellent time for harvesting herb or root crops. It is a good time to cut flowers, as they will last longer and to dry flowers.
Cancer: Crab, Water, feminine, very moist and fruitful.
The most productive sign of the zodiac, Cancer is number one for planting, transplanting, budding, grafting, dividing, starting cuttings and any propagation. Seed planted under Cancer germinate quickly, are strong, can withstand drought and are the hardiest. Cancer is an excellent to plant all viney, watery crops, melons, mosses, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins and gourds. It is also a good time for growth-encouraging pruning. Good also for watering and irrigation.
Leo: Lion, Fire, Masculine, dry and barren.
The most barren sign of the zodiac do not plant or transplant anything under this sign. Instead maintain what you have; cultivate, mow, and destroy pests. Weeding and the removal of trees, bushes and roots will be more successful at this time, especially in the fourth quarter. Prune to discourage growth. It is also, good for harvesting fruit and root crops.
Virgo: Virgin, Earth, Feminine, moist and barren.
Virgo is a barren sign good for planning gardens and performing garden chores such as cultivating and killing weeds and pests. Not a good time for planting or transplanting. The only exceptions to the rule is some vines favor this sign as well as iris’s
Libra: Scales, Air, Masculine, moist and semi-fertile.
The Moon in Libra is the best time for planting beautiful, fragrant flowers and herbs. It is also a good time to plant vines, creepers, crawlers and ground covers and root crops. Seeds planted under Libra produce strong pulpy stems and good root growth. Leo is also a good sign for seeding hay, corn, fodder, root crops and lettuce.
Scorpio: Scorpion, Water, Feminine, moist and fruitful.
The second best sign for planting, transplanting and all propagation. Seeds planted under Scorpio will germinate quickly and produce good stem and vine growth, sturdiness and high fruit yield. They may also produce a mass of off shoots and seedlings. Vines, climbers and creepers favor being planted under this sign. Tomatoes like to be transplanted in Scorpio, and it is a good sign for corn and squash. Planting during Scorpio will also bring Winter hardiness and drought resistance. Scorpio is a good sign to plant trees and prune to encourage growth and higher fruit yield. A good sign to fertilize crops and for irrigation
Sagittarius: Archer, Fire, Masculine, dry and barren.
A good sign to cultivate the soil and harvest crops especially fruits and root. Harvesting at this time will ensure that your crops stay fresh during storage. Under the influence of Sagittarius plant only pungent fruits and roots crops, onions, leeks, garlic and potatoes do well and are productive if planted under this sign. Also you can plant hay, maple, and oak and fruit trees. Sagittarius’s energy discourages growth, it’s a good time to cut plants back before putting them to bed
Capricorn: Goat, Earth, Feminine, dry and semi-fertile.
Good sign to plant and transplant root crops, rhizomes, bulbs and stalk crops. Planting under the influence of this sign will encourage strong, cold and drought hardy growth. Capricorn is a good sign for pruning, especially to promote growth; any branches pruned under this sign will grow back stronger than they would initially. It is also a good time for grafting, cultivating and turning the soil and applying fertilizer. Do not weed under this sign
Aquarius: Water bearer, Air, Feminine, barren and dry.
Good sign for cultivating, mowing and killing weeds and pests. Good sign to harvest leaf, stalk, fruit and root crops, especially for storage. Not a good time to sow seeds or transplant. Seeds planted during Aquarius don’t germinate well and will likely rot.
Pisces: Fish. Water, Feminine, Moist and fertile.
Pisces is one of the best signs for planting, transplanting, and propagating. Seeds planted under this sign produce strong deeply penetrating root growth, drought resistance, and a healthy plentiful fruit crop. Best sign for planting and pruning trees and shrubs. Now is the second best time to plant and transplant. Irrigation is also a good task to perform under the influence of Pisces. Not recommended for planting ivies or vines.
Harvesting by the Moon
• Harvest tops, greens and flowers during the Waxing Moon.
• Harvest roots, bulbs or rhizomes when the Moon is waning or dark.
• Harvest early in the day for higher essential oil concentrations, and harvesting in the morning will ensure that the rising sun will close the plants wounds.
• Bark should be taken in the Fall or Early Spring when the plant is dormant. It should be taken when the Moon is decreasing and in the signs of Aries, Gemini, Leo, Sagittarius or Aquarius.
• Leaves and flowers for fresh use or freezing should be harvested in mid-morning after the dew has dried. The best times are when the Moon is increasing and in Taurus, Cancer, Libra, Scorpio or Pisces.
• Leaves and flowers to be dried should be gathered in mid-morning after the dew has dried. They should be lifted when the Moon is increasing and near Full in Aries, Gemini, Leo, Sagittarius or Aquarius.
• Roots should be harvest in the Fall or early Spring when dormant. They should be lifted when the Moon is increasing and near Full in: Aries, Gemini, Leo, Sagittarius, or Aquarius.
• Seeds should be harvested when they are ripe as possible without falling off the plant. They should be taken the Moon is decreasing and in Aries, Gemini, Leo, Sagittarius, or Aquarius.
Gardening for the Days of the Week
From A Floral Grimoire Patricia Telesco
*)* Monday: a fruitful day especially for lunar-oriented plants.
*)* Tuesday: a high energy day that will boost the energies in flowers or plants that improve physical vitality or mental keenness,
*)*Wednesday: a creative day, good for spiritually-centered flowers and plants.
*)*Thursday: another high-energy day, suited to flora that augments devotion and tenacity.
*)* Friday: an emotionally warm day, suited to plants that are used in love and fertility magic.
*)* Saturday: sow, harvest, or tend plants on this day that augment transformation, manifestation and/or comprehension.
*)* Sunday: the perfect day to work with solar-oriented flowers and plants.
The Lunar Garden
Another special way to align yourself to the Moon is to create a Lunar garden, this is garden or corner of a garden, that is specifically designed with plants, flowers, herbs, trees and shrubs with the Moon’s energies in mind. This garden can be a very special place to gaze up at the moon, to relax, and let go, to enjoy the night’s energy, to align yourself with the Goddess and to perform Esbat rituals.
First you will need to find a basic plot of land unobscured by trees where you can see the Moon for most of the year. The Moon will rise in different parts of the sky and at different times throughout the year, Do your best to find a spot constantly in the Moon’s light, but do not stress out about it, even if the garden is not immediately in alignment with the Moon the energy will be there and usually the Moon will sweep by even if it is really early in the morning or very late at night.
Next, determine if the area is in bright direct sunlight, semi shade or shade. You will need to think back and consider what kind of light the garden gets throughout the year and plan your garden accordingly, You will also need to consider your hardiness zone and how much moisture your garden will receive naturally and how much you may need to supplement.
Next you need to determine the size and what you’d like the garden to look like. One of my favorite garden designs is a cute crescent Moon shaped border, encircled with bright, white, quartz.. If you do not have room for a garden specifically designed for the Moon simply add some Lunar plants to your existing garden. Or for those who do not have room for a garden or for people who live in apartments you can get large pots, or a series of small pots and a line them on your porch or doorway. Or if all you have is a windowsill you may grow select herbs or substitute houseplants. Choose pots that are white, silver or blue, or spruce up plain terra cotta pots by painting a nighttime/moon motif. You may also wish to add beautiful, crystals, stones and rocks and maybe even a miniature Goddess statue to the pot and place this on your altar when you perform Moon magick.
Other features you may want to consider when creating a Moon garden is adding some sort of Water feature to reflect the Moon’s light and create a peaceful vibe. A pond or a fountain would be wonderful, even a well placed bird bath would work and would help your feathered friends. Other decorations such as witch’s balls would look beautiful as would Goddess and God statues. Now, many garden centered are selling really cute solar lights, in the shapes of gnomes or faeries that may make a nice addition to your garden. You may also wish to set a nice spot in the middle of the garden where you can perform Esbat rituals. Lay stepping stones down, so you have an even footing and add a small altar.
Now, comes the fun part, picking out your plants. When deciding what you would like to grow consider what you like to do. Do you like to cook or perform herbal medicine? If the answer is yes you may wish to start a more vegetable and herbal based garden. Are you a person that loves everything in full bloom? Then you may wish to plant flowers. If you are a person who wants to be surrounded with trees you may wish to plant a grove. Or you can add all these elements together. Gardens can look wonderful even when one adds vegetable and fruit plants. They can add a real uniqueness and interest to your garden.
When planning out your garden variety is key, choose many different sizes, textures, heights and colors of plants. Choose plants with interesting leaves and seed pods, for contrast and Winter interest. Choose tall grasses and broad leafed plants, plant fragrant night blooming flowers, which are usually white in color, to attract the moths that pollinate them, or silvered leaved plants so they may be seen against the contrasting dark.
Also consider the size of each plant you choose, and make sure you have enough room for all and that you are not planting really tall, fast growing plants right next to low, slow growing plants, the larger ones wills shade the other plants ensuring that the smaller plants does not receive enough light. Also, be aware of how invasive and aggressive the plants are, the Artemisia’s in particular are beautiful but aggressive plants. Many have tiny grain sized seeds that can travel all over your yard and spread quickly. With these plants it is hard to tell when they go to seed because their flowers are not very showy so you have to be right on top of them, cutting the flowers back within a few days of their appearance. Also, Artemisia’s do not play well with others; they release a chemical into the soil that inhibits the plants around its growth. This phenomenon is called allelopathy. I have also personally noticed that plants grown near Artemisia’s have a tendency to take on Artemisia’s bitter taste, as well as taking on a similar fragrance.
Go with your instincts and with your wants and needs, let your intuition guide you and plant herbs, flowers, trees, shrubs that call to you and the mirror your spiritual and emotional needs.
Flowers: Acanthus, Bleeding Hearts, Camellia, Daisies, Datura, Dog’s Tooth Violet, Dwarf Rock Cress, Forget-Me-Knots, Honesty, Iris, Lily, Lily of the Valley, Loosestrife, Lotus, Lunaria, Narcissus, Nicotiana Tobacco Plant, Orpine, Pearl Trefoil, Phlox, Purslane, Roses, Saxifrage, Snowdrops, Stock Stonecrop, Touchwood, Tuberose, Wallflowers, Water Lilies, White Poppies, Yellow Flag.
Plants: Adder’s Tongue, Club Moss, Cotton, Irish Moss.
Climbing Plants: Angel’s Trumpet, Clematis, Honeysuckle, Climbing Hydrangea, Jasmine, Moonflower, Nightshade, Passionflower, and Wisteria.
Shrubs: Buddleia, Deutzia, Gardenia, Hydrangea, Lilac, Oleander, Philadelphus, Privet, Wintergreen.
Trees: Ash, Aspens, Beech, Elder, Magnolia, Maple, Mesquite, Olive, Palm, Willow.
Fruits and Vegetables: Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, , Coconut, Cucumbers Grapes, Grapefruit, Gourd Lemon, Lettuce, Melons, , Squashes, Watermelon, Onions, Papaya, Pea, Peach, Potato, Pumpkin, Soy, Turnip, Watercress.
Herbs: Arrach, Betony, Buchu, Calamus, Camphor, Chamomile, Chickweed, Clary sage, Cleavers, Eucalyptus, Horehound, Hyssop, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Mallow, Moonwort, Rosemary, Speedwell, Sweet Cicely, Thyme, Yarrow,
Silver Leaved: Artemisia’s including Dusty Miller, Mugwort, Southernwood and Wormwood, Hostas, Lamb’s Ear, Sedum
Night Blooming: Angel’s Trumpet, Daylilies, Evening Primrose, Four O’clock, Gardenia, Moonflower, Nicotiana Flowering Tobacco, Night Blooming Cereus, Night Blooming Jasmine, Night Phlox, Nottingham Catchfly, Tobacco, Petunia, Soapwort, Yucca.
Water Plants: Water Lily, Lotus, Duckweed,
Lunar Houseplants: African Violet, Aloe Vera, Ferns, Gardenia, Jasmine, Ivy, Orchid, Spider Plant.
Blessing Your Garden
Now, that you have designed your garden and you know the proper days to plant, it is now time to bless your garden. I feel that it is important not to over look this step. This will not only add energy to your garden encouraging a good harvesting and increased growth, but will help you become more aware and spiritually in tune with your garden. Please perform this spell when you have your garden fully prepared for planting. You should have the soil aerated and tilled and should have already added any soil amendments. You may also want to perform this rite after you have actually planted your herbs, flowers and veggies. The blessing can be anything really. A quick prayer of protection and blessing is perfect.
When I bless my garden I wing it. I let my instinct and inspiration guide me, believing that I will know what to do and say. I do however follow a basic pattern. I mentally and physically prepare myself, clear my thoughts and begin walking around my garden. I see and visualize every step I take purifying and blessing the garden I usually do my garden blessing in three parts.
First, I walk slowly around my garden with a watering can full of pure clean, clear water. I continue to walk the boundaries, pouring the water on the ground. This first pass is for purification and removal of negative energies, past failures, insects, mold, fungus, disease and other harm.
Second, I pour a honey, milk mixture in the watering can and I call the Deities, Elements, Elementals, and Ancestors etc. for their help. I ask that they bless this garden with their energies and that they protect the garden from harm. An example goes something like. “I call you Air to come with cleansing breathes and cool winds to sooth the Summer’s scorching. I call you Air bringer of the storms, bringer of the wasps, lady bugs, bees, and butterflies the pollinators and protectors. Please shield this sacred space from destructive winds, hungry birds, aphids, eggwigs and all harmful insects. Blessed be!”
I make a third and final pass again with the honey milk mixture or compost tea and bless the plants I encourage them to grow deep roots, healthy, strong stems and many leaves, flowers and fruits. I bless veggies with nutrition, flowers with beauty and herbs for healing. I raise energy and send it into the soil and every plant. After I am done I offer some food and drink to the Deities, Elements, Elementals, Ancestors etc and I make sure I eat something to ground myself.
Other ingredients that are helpful to use when blessing a garden are powdered eggshells, they add calcium, a vital nutrient for root growth and one easily depleted into the ground. Egg shells also are protective against cutworm and snails; they hate the sharp edges and will not crawl on them. Eggshells will magickally act as a protective barrier for your garden and your plants. An egg shell is surprisingly strong and keeps the baby chick protected from harm while still letting in heat and light.
Coffee grounds are another great ingredient to add to the garden and use to bless the garden, they high in nitrogen and makes for very healthily green plants. Think about how green the world looks and how well your plants grow after a rainstorm, this is because the nitrogen in the air is brought down to the Earth through raindrops. Coffee will magically bring energy and stamina to the garden. It will help the plants work for you. Coffee is also a protective herb. You can use your own grounds or ask a local shop for there’s. They will be more than happy to let you throw away their garbage for them! Sprinkle these ingredients over your garden and imagine a protective barrier around your garden, your plants. See, this barrier protecting against harmful insects, animals and mold, bacteria and viruses.
Now, that you have the desire, knowledge, tools and confidence go out there and begin growing. Growing plants, growing herbs, growing your connection to the Earth and all of Nature and growing your own spirit and self! Blessed be!
Moon Magic Lori Reid
Everyday Moon Magic Dorothy Morrison
Bud, Blossom, and Leaf Dorothy orison
The Charmed Garden Diane Morgan
A Floral Grimoire Patricia Telesco
Gardening with Goddess Patricia Telesco
Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs Scott Cunningham
A Wiccan Formulary and Herbal A.J. Drew
Mastering Herbalism Paul Huson
The Encyclopedia of Magickal Ingredients Lexa Rosean
PaganFM Moon Siren Astrology Kathleen Spitzer