Keeping In Tune With The MoonPosted on: 31 July 2009 by Gareth Hargreaves
Today more and more gardeners are turning to the moon to discover the best time to plant, prune, weed, and harvest. The practice, known as moon or lunar gardening, now has a large following, including Prince Charles.
This practice of growing by the moon focuses on the moon's gravitational effect on the flow of moisture in soil and plants and, to a lesser degree, the effect of moonlight on seed germination.
Plants are affected by the waxing (getting bigger) and waning (getting smaller) of the moon which takes place over 29 days, 12 hours and 44 minutes and the height of the moon in the sky (the moon ascends and descends over 27 days, 7 hours and 43 minutes).
Observation has shown that plants increase in vitality as the moon waxes and, as the full moon approaches, their resistance to parasites and diseases increases. Fruits and vegetables harvested at this time store well and impart more vitality when eaten, whilst cut flowers last longer in a vase.
The key to learning how to grow by the moon is to buy a detailed calendar telling you what to do when in your garden. In Tune With The Moon gives clear information for each month on the days that are suitable for sowing, planting out, hoeing and harvesting your crops. The book divides plants into four main types: fruits, leaves, flowers and roots and, by following the clear information in the monthly full-colour calendar you can see at a glance if this is a day for sowing roots or a day for weeding leaf plants.
Not convinced? Set up your own planting trial: split your vegetable plot into two parts, and plant exactly the same varieties in each half. Plant one bed according to the lunar calendar, in the other, control bed, do the opposite plant leeks when you should be planting beans, weeding, hoeing and watering on days the moon calendar advises against.
Keep a note of germination rates, hardiness of the plants and susceptibility to disease and parasites. When it comes to harvesting your crops follow the calendar for the moon bed and harvest on inauspicious days for the control bed. Then compare the yield from both beds. Finally cook a sample of each vegetable from both the moon and control bed and see if there is any difference in taste.
Tips For Growing With The Moon
On the whole, diseases can be avoided or at least contained through a good soil balance and intense biological activity (microbes and roots).
It is essential to stimulate and restructure the soil with the help of living matter. For instance, green fertilizer is one of the best ways to obtain such a result. Using 'young' compost can also generate good results in the soil, except for vegetables, which require a 'mature' compost.
In most cases, this intensification of soil life will give enough energy to the plants to avoid disease. Plant decoctions also act as a preventative
against diseases. Some other products also have a healthy effect on the soil and help prevent diseases. Here are some of the ones we have begun testing with success against odium and mildew.
Charcoal reinforces the soil and has a purifying and cleansing effect that prevents cryptogenic diseases in a localized area. It is particularly efficient at preventing the dispersion of spores and seeds. It regulates the soil by assisting in the storage of nutrients. Use natural, pulverized, charcoal, mixed with the soil prior to sowing the seeds, 100 to 150 g/m2. Ideally this should happen during an ascending and waning moon.
Soot resulting from burning wood also helps to prevent cryptogamic diseases as it protects the living organisms in the soil. However do not apply if you have already used charcoal, or if the soil is very acid!
Mix 200 to 300 g of dry (not wet) soot with 10 litres of water, ideally during a waxing moon, avoiding lunar nodes and Moon-Saturn squares. Do not use metallic containers, as these can taint the mixture, instead use wood or sandstone. Let the mixture steep for several days stirring every evening; spray on the soil, renew monthly.
Bicarbonate Of Soda
Bicarbonate of Soda has the ability to stimulate and re-balance chalky soils, resulting in a decrease in diseases.
Spray onto the soil at dew time a few weeks before seeding, using between 20 to 50 g by litre of water. 5 to 10 g per litre can be used directly on plants in the same way as grapefruit seed extract (see below).
Grapefruit Seed Extract
Seed Extract (available commercially)
Grapefruit seed extract reinforces and purifies plants, acting as a disinfectant and fungicide. Spray on plants in September in the afternoon on 5th, 8th – 12th and 17th – 18th, using 35 to 40 drops per litre of water, or even 50 drops to avoid mildew. Renew every 10 to 15 days, and after rain.
Planting By The Moon
In September this means that you should be sowing your seeds at the following times:
Roots: sow seed on 10th – 12th, 19th – 21st and 29th – 30th. Radish and turnip can be sown in the open ground.
Leaves: sow seed on 5th – 7th, 15th and 23rd – 25th. Chervil, cress, lettuce, parsley, spinach beet and spinach can all be sown in the open ground. Lettuce can also be sown under cover on 23rd – 25th to provide a later crop. Spinach beet can almost be treated as a ‘catch-crop’ until the end of the month. September is also a good time to sow green manure; phacelia, mustard, clover and buckwheat can all be sown, left over winter and dug in during the spring.
Harvesting In September
Various factors influence the quality and preservation of fruit and vegetables after harvest. As a general rule, choose an ascending Moon for harvesting plant parts that grow above ground and a descending
Moon for parts that grow below ground, but avoid the perigee, lunar nodes and stormy weather. Fruit and vegetables that do not store well will last much longer if you avoid harvesting during Water signs and constellations (Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces).
The best days for harvesting root vegetables is when the Moon is descending in September these are 12th – 14th and 17th – 24th.
The best days for harvesting all other vegetables are when the Moon is ascending 2nd – 11th, 26th – 27th, and 29th – 30th.
Nothing should be harvested on 16th, perigee, and 28th, ascending node.
By Carol Shaw
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