No, no, no – you won’t have to literally garden in the moonlight. That would be inconvenient.
Using the lunar cycle to pinpoint seed planting dates for healthier plants and more bountiful harvest is an age-old practice still used to this day. It might not be the most popular trend right now, but it is based in science and suggested by the long-standing Farmer’s Almanac. If the moon can affect our world’s tides and light up the darkest nights, then it can affect how your garden performs.
To be clear, this is not a substitute for Hardiness Zones and seasonal gardening; it is an additional technique that improves the vigor of your home garden.
- Soil moisture
- Root invigoration
- Seed swell
- Leaf stimulation
Get to know the moon cycle
The moon cycle is broken into four phases for the purpose of gardening. Before you use this approach, it’s important to understand the science behind the moon’s gravitational pull and your garden’s reaction:
New Moon: During this phase, the moon’s gravity pulls water upward, and newly planted seeds swell and burst into growth. This is one of the best opportunities for planting crops that bear fruit above ground with external seeds (Spinach, Broccoli, Lettuce, etc.)
Second Quarter Moon: During this phase, the gravitational pull lessens slightly and the moonlight increases. Moonlight has proven to aid healthy leaf growth, and the gravitational pull is still strong enough for planting seeds. Crops with above-ground fruit and internal seeds (melons, peppers, tomatoes, etc.) prefer this quarter, and do best if planted a few days prior to the full moon.
Full Moon: The full moon phase sees the peak of the 2nd quarter moon’s light and the start of its decrease (waning). Its gravitational pull remains high, so soil moisture isn’t an issue, but the moonlight starts to fade. The full moon is a peak point for moonlight, which begins the decrease in its reflection of the sun. This isn’t an issue, however, because roots will benefit. That means root crops (beets, carrots, etc.) prefer to be planted at this time.
Fourth Quarter Moon: This phase is the “resting period”. Decreased gravitational pull and lack of moonlight means that it doesn’t assist your garden. That’s why the 4th quarter moon is a time when harvesting, fertilizing, and pruning occurs.
What to plant when and where
Lunar calendar gardening dates change depending on where you live. Following the pattern of Hardiness Zones, there are 4 North America regions. Region 4 begins deeper into Northern Canada where gardening is fairly restricted due to temperatures, so let’s cover regions 1-3. What these regions account for is seasonal temperatures.
The phase in which you plant has to be coupled with your standard seasonal gardening practices. The following are popular vegetables and when you should plant them according to region and lunar phase:
Region 3 (Upper US and Canada)
- Beets – May 1-14
- Broccoli – May 15-29
- Carrots – June 29-July 11
- Collards – May 15-29
- Cucumbers – May 15-29, June 13-20
- Peppers – May 15-20, June 13-28
- Tomatoes – May 15-29
Region 2 (Central and Pacific US)
- Beets – August 27-31
- Broccoli – March 17-31
- Carrots – March 7-16
- Collards – March 17-31
- Cucumbers – April 15-29
- Peppers – April 15-29
- Tomatoes – April 15-29
Region 1 (Southern US)
- Beets – February 7-14
- Broccoli – February 15-March 1
- Carrots – August 1-10, August 27-September 7
- Collards – September 9-24
- Cucumbers – March 17-31
- Peppers – March 17-20
- Tomatoes – March 17-20
Gardening with a lunar calendar is an additional technique that isn’t difficult to integrate into your current gardening schedule. It helps plant leaves grow, strengthens their roots and gives you specific dates for planting.
Sure, every garden requires sun and water, but a little moonlight doesn’t hurt either.