PLANTING BY THE MOON?!
There are various ways of planting according to ASTRONOMY. We call it astrology when we refer to signs/constellations, and give them meaning. Which in the old days, were ONE. Astrology and astronomy were not thought of as different. It was the most important ‘science’ of all because people were totally dependent on their crops. As always, timing is everything!
It doesn’t matter what you call the signs – in the world today primarily there are two systems of astrology that now happen to be 27 degrees different, almost a full sign/30 degrees each. The Eastern system, Sidereal, uses constellations, and, of course, constellations are entirely arbitrary, differently perceived by different cultures. Ours are Greco/Roman derived. The Western (Europe and North America) system uses seasonal astrology, Tropical, based on the Solstice and Equinox points – Tropics of Cancer/Capricorn. BUT. It really doesn’t matter which you use, because you are still referring to a section of the sky that exists the same for each no matter what you call it! I find the descriptions of that part of the sky/time of the year, are similar though called different names. They would have to be, to be accurate, for either system to work.
You don’t even really need a calendar with Moon sign changes and phases on it, though to know the exact times those sign changes happen is helpful if you need to refine your timing. A great little calendar is Jim Maynard’s Pocket Astrologer. It includes a plethora of info including best planting days and Moon sign change times. You can order it in Pacific or Eastern times, only $6.95! Otherwise, there are FREE sources online that very adequately do it for you per day. The Farmers’ Almanac is a long time trusted resource. Tropical system used.
The Rudolf Steiner/Biodynamic fans have developed some ‘research’ informally through the years. Stella Natura explains how to use Planting Calendars in a practical and sensible fashion. Oregon Biodynamics Group page is one of my favorites because it has so much info, the Lunar Rhythms part just over 1/2 way down the page. You might enjoy more details and the daily summaries at a UK site, the Gardeners Calendar. Just remember, they are 8 hours off from Pacific time. That can make it a day off occasionally. These all use the Sidereal system.
If you are a total techie, and don’t mind spending a few bucks, you can make your own customized, perhaps complex, calendar! Gardening by the Moon offers a 30 Day Free Trial, limited features in the trial version, of their software Moon Planting Matrix. Tropical system used. They present a good summary of research backing Moon planting.
Now, to make all that more interesting, some plants, like cucumbers, are quite responsive to Moon planting, others, like bush beans, very little! But of course. Just like some people can tell you what sign the Moon is in, without the calendar, similar to the way some of YOU know what time it is without a watch, others poo, poo, and are ‘blind’ to Lunar influence. Thank God for tide tables! And, there are exceptions to the rules, of course! For example, Maria Thun, a biodynamic fan, 1956 researcher, found cucumbers sown on leaf days had strong leafy growth, but did not produce many flowers. In fact, they did the best in Leo, the last sign recommended to plant anything in! Let Nana Luna’s signs and phases be your guide; let your intuition rule! You will find your own personal rhythm with your plants. You may plant the right thing at the wrong time and be right!
Primarily we think of the Lunar system as what to plant when, but it is for all gardening activities – like when to weed, deal with pests, prepare soil for planting, to fertilize, harvest, gather seeds. It’s like mini seasons within the annual season!