By Donna Mazitelli
Years ago, when I began growing a vegetable garden in California, a friend introduced me to the concept of caring for my plants in conjunction with the waxing and waning moon. I must admit that my plants flourished and produced plentiful vegetables throughout the summer and fall months as a result of her instruction.
Ancient moon planting
The practice of using the phases of the moon as a planting guide goes way back. In ancient times, the most reliable sources of telling time were the sun, moon and stars. There seem to be several opinions about who came up with the moon planting calendar first. Was it the Egyptians or the Babylonians? Most probably, all farmers planted and tended their crops based on the moon phases no matter where they lived, and there were more than likely different variations of the planting calendars depending on each farming community’s geographical location.
From the earliest written records, it was noticed that different plants grew better when they were planted during different phases of the moon. Each of these phases imparted an influence on the way the vegetation grew through the rising and falling of the moisture in the ground and in the plants. It was also noted that certain crops fared better by being planted during a time when the moon was in a specific constellation. The ancient planting calendars that took into account the moon’s presence in a constellation were quite advanced.
Planting was not the only important time for the farmer; harvest time also had to be recorded. When the harvest was done at the correct time, crops tended to last much longer. Farmers came to understand that plants store water in the fruit/crop based on different times within the lunar cycle. As planting calendars were passed on through the generations, farmers’ practices evolved to encompass the variety of crops they continued to introduce, along with more productive farming techniques that were developed and used.
Moon planting rediscovered
In our modern world, many are rediscovering the benefits of planting by the lunar cycle, and various sources are being used to generate moon planting systems. Some of these systems may appear to contradict each other in certain aspects, but it is important for anyone using any particular system to remember that they are meant to serve as a guide — to be used and modified as necessary.
Three Moon planting methods
There are three methods for planting by the moon. The Synodic (or waxing and waning cycle), the Biodynamic cycle, and the Sidereal cycle.
1. Synodic (waxing and waning) cycle
The Synodic cycle is a simple form of moon planting that divides the lunar cycle into four phases, or quarters. This cycle takes 29.6 days to complete. Plants are grouped into categories: root crops, foliage, crops with seeds on the outside, and crops with seeds on the inside. Plants are subsequently assigned to the phases of the moon that best suit their growing characteristics.
2. Biodynamic cycle
The Biodynamic cycle is a more detailed method using the twelve zodiac signs as a method of positioning the moon for more accurate planting. This method was developed by Rudolf Steiner in 1924, and the zodiac signs used are based on the actual positioning of the signs in the sky when the moon passes through them. In addition to the position of the moon, Venus and Saturn also play a large part in the Biodynamic farming calendar.
3. Sidereal cycle
The Sidereal cycle is very similar to the Biodynamic cycle; however, the moon’s orbit around the earth is used to define the best times to sow and harvest. The orbit is divided into twelve equal 30-degree sections to represent the position of the moon in the sky, which may not be exactly the same as the moon’s current position. The Sidereal cycle takes 27.3 days to complete.
Which cycle to follow?
Whether one method is better than another really depends on personal preference. If you’ve never practiced moon planting, the Synodic cycle may be the one to begin with since it is the simplest of the three. While you are working with this cycle read about the other two methods to decide if you want to work with a different one the following year.
When you start to use moon planting be sure to keep a diary and add as much detail as possible. You will have that information for your future endeavors and it will serve as a means of comparing the cycles should you choose to experiment with a different method.
For more information on moon planting there are books and tools available, including calendars. Happy planting by the “light of the silvery moon!”
Donna Mazzitelli was a contributing author to Speaking Your Truth, Vols. I and II, and editor of Vol. III. As The Word Heartiste, Donna helps others connect to their stories and craft them with heart. She started Merry Dissonance Press in mid-2013 to assist writers in publishing works of transformation, inspiration, exploration, and illumination. Learn more at www.writingwithdonna.com and www.merrydissonancepress.com.