What is Planting by the Moon

Outdoors

By: Eddie Ayers, County Extension Agent

Lately there’s been a lot of conversation about using the moon signs to garden. While I’ve not personally
researched this practice, I decided to look into it because I’ve had phone calls and heard people talking
about it. I learned that the Farmers’ Almanac is one of the original publications that discussed moon sign
gardening so the information here is from that publication plus an article by Catherine Boeckmann.
The foundation for using moon signs is observation. It is NOT astrology or astrological “best days.” The
basic idea behind Planting by the Moon is that cycles of the moon affect plant growth. Moon phase
gardening takes into account two periods of the lunar cycle: the time between the new moon and the full
moon (the waxing of the moon), and the time between the full moon and the new moon (the waning of
the moon.)

Just as the moon’s gravitational pull causes tides to rise and fall, it also affects moisture in the soil. The
theory is that seeds will absorb more water during the full moon and the new moon, when more moisture
is pulled to the soil surface, causing the seeds to swell and resulting in greater germination and better-
established plants. The moon also affects plant growth through geotropism which is how plants grow in
response to gravity. Roots grow downward in the direction of the gravitational pull and stems grow in the
opposite direction (i.e., upwards.) Now that we have that information, let’s look at how to plant by the
moon’s phases.

Plant annual flowers and fruit and vegetables that bear crops above ground (such as corn, tomatoes,
watermelon, and zucchini) during the waxing of the moon (from the day the moon is new to the day it is
full.) As the moonlight increases night by night, plants are encouraged to grow leaves and stems.
Plant flowering bulbs, biennial and perennial flowers, and vegetables that bear crops below ground (such
as onions, carrots, and potatoes) during the waning of the Moon (from the day after it is full to the day
before it is new again.) As the moonlight decreases night by night, plants are encouraged to grow roots,
tubers, and bulbs.

Where dates for planting by the moon are concerned, see the almanac Planting Calendar for dates based
on average last frost dates and moon phase. Be sure and get the right edition of the almanac because it is
customized to your local U.S. zip code or Canadian postal code.

The almanac also provides favorable dates for sowing seeds or transplanting in the ground for all popular
vegetables and edibles. You could also calculate planting dates yourself by looking at the Moon Phase
Calendar and the following the guidelines above.

If you have any questions about Planting by the Moon, contact me in the Gilmer County UGA
Extension office.

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