GARDENING BY EACH Moon Phase + Fall Rituals
WHAT’S MOON PHASE GARDENING?
Gardening by the Moon, also known as Moon Phase Gardening, is a practice as ancient as the origins of farming itself. Ancient civilizations were known to use a celestial calendar to plant their crops. Moon Phase Gardening follows the four phases of the moon, offering planning indications for when to plant and harvest crops.
The cycles of the moon are said to have a positive effect on plant growth. If we imagine how the gravitational pull of the moon conducts the rise and fall of tides, we can also understand the power she may wield over the moisture in the earth’s soil. During the full Moon, seeds may potentially absorb more water, which many believe results in better plant growth overall. Others claim Moon Phase Gardening may just be a persistent, long-held myth. But Native Americans, Mayans, ancient Celts, and countless other agricultural communities have all relied on lunar gardening throughout time – could the nomenclature ‘harvest moon’ have been wrong for generations?
If you’re interested in trying Gardening by the Moon, you’ll be integrating the two periods of the lunar cycle (from new Moon to full Moon: “waxing” and from full Moon to new Moon: “waning”) into your planting practice. Some plants are said to thrive when planted during the waxing period, while others do best during the waning of the Moon.
Plant your annual flowers, fruits and vegetables that bear crops above ground from the day the Moon is new to the day it is full. This includes crops such as corn, watermelon, and zucchini. As the moonlight increases each night, plants are encouraged to grow their leaves and stems.
Plant flowering bulbs, biennial and perennial flowers, and vegetables that bear crops below ground from the day after it is full to the day before it is new again. This includes crops such as onions, carrots, and potatoes. As the moonlight dwindles down each night, plants are encouraged to grow roots, tubers, and bulbs.
The full moon is a time of strong lunar gravity when moisture is being pulled towards the surface of the soil due to high tides. Energy begins to wane, and it is a good time to plant plants that develop underground such as beets, carrots, and potatoes. It is also a good time for transplanting and pruning. Although the gravitational pull lessens during this time, the moonlight is strong, which creates strong leaf growth. If you’re thinking about transplanting any of your plants, wait for the full Moon. The downward moving energy will better support root growth.
The New moon increases the lunar gravity, which helps with the germination of seeds. This is a wonderful time of rising energy and vitality for plants. Likewise, this is the best time for sowing or transplanting leafy annuals. These are plants like lettuce, spinach, cabbage, and celery, where we value or eat the leaves or the stems.
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It is also said that when the moon is in different phases there are different benefits to planting and harvesting. As the moon makes its monthly journey through the sky, it passes through one of the 12 constellations that make up the signs of the Zodiac. Each varies in fruitfulness, and in types of harvests that will prosper. Below is a sign-by-sign breakdown to help you plan your garden in alignment with the cosmos.
This is a good time to grow vines and fruits, and to harvest roots and fruits.
Known for root planting, this is a good stage for transplanting leafy greens like lettuce and kale.
Known for flower blossoming, this is a good time to germinate your seeds.
Fruitful and moist Cancer season brings forth bounties of harvest. This is the best sign under which to plant and transplant above ground crops.
During this dry period, consider harvesting fruit trees.
A beautiful time for flowers and vines to flourish, particularly medicinal plants!
Semi-fruitful and moist, the third quarter is a good season for planting root crops with pulpy stems like kohlrabi.
Good for planting both sturdy plants and vines, this is also the season to consider transplanting.
Harvest and store your bounty during this season! This is also a good time to plant potatoes, onions, and fruit trees.
Graft, prune, and fertilize your plants in this season.
An ideal time to harvest roots and fruits, readying them for storage.
This is one of the best signs for both planting and transplanting. It’s particularly beneficial for root growth and transplanting in the third quarter. Prune, water, and fertilize in the fourth quarter.
Fall is an ideal time to reimagine your rituals, as it offers the opportunity to revisit old patterns that may be unhealthy or unproductive and to adopt new, soul-affirming habits in their place. One new practice you can start simply is making a new recipe with nourishing herbs. Scroll down for how to make our Butterfly Pea Cookies, or consider experimenting with warming spices like cinnamon, cardamom, or ginger.
As the trees shed their leaves and nightfall comes earlier in this beautiful season of abundance, here are three practices you can try to take full advantage of nature’s bounty. First, plan to prepare yourself an herb bath. Check out our guide to medicinal baths here, or find out why you should be bathing in butterfly pea flower here. Next, consider a solo or group “forest bath”, a Japanese art that converts the simple act of walking in the woods into a mindfulness space for rest and contemplation. Lastly, take a look at our Foraging 101 guide, and plan to observe the subtle changes close to home while returning with a basketful of ingredients to challenge and pamper yourself and loved ones with a new, seasonal, healthy recipe.
Often, autumn can sneak up on us if we’ve had a particularly busy summer, so take a pause to consider how you may be restricting or blocking new blessings by trapping old energy in your home space. You can start by rearranging your space for the forthcoming cold weather – is there a comfy chair that’s too close to the window/airflow that could be better nestled in a cozy corner? Do you have a stack of soft blankets and long, leisurely reads in a basket nearby? Hygge, also known as the “secret happiness of the Danes” according to the BBC, is a wonderful starting point for envisioning how your home can be warmer, literally and energetically. For instance, carve out some time to make sure your pantry is stocked with your favorite teas, your most used spaces have pleasant smelling candles or incense, and that whenever you plop down in your most welcoming furniture, you have everything you need to feel safe, secure, warm, and prepared for the deep rest your body needs.
With numerous holidays on the horizon, fall and winter are ideal seasons for practicing gratitude before you get overwhelmed with end-of-year business, family tension, or personal checklists and commitments. Consider volunteering your time, donating unused clothes and other items, or building an altar to pay homage to your ancestors and to call forth new or persisting desires. You can read more about how to build altars that work here, or spend some downtime researching local mutual aid efforts in your area to participate in gratitude work in community with others. If you’re feeling a deeper need to go inward, it might be a good time to buy a new journal or refresh a forgotten one – science has confirmed gratitude can heal the brain and body; it even has the ability to lower stress and prevent depression.
Release, release, release – this is the season to let everything go that’s no longer serving you! Popular release practices include journaling, burning incense and herbs to cleanse your space and your person, and writing down any people, actions, or emotions that have served their purpose and may no longer have a place in your life to bury, burn, shred, etc. However you choose to let go of the old, you are deliberately making space for new energy, opportunities, connections, and possibilities in your life. Do not let fear be your guide: trust your intuition to lead the process of releasing, and be bold in your determination to move forward in lightness.