How does your garden look at night? You might say, soothing and mesmerizing. Moonlight illuminates the flowers and foliage making the garden at night a different experience, almost surreal and magical. But are you aware of the role of moonlight in determining the growth of the plants. A few traditional farmers have understood and applied the influence of lunar cycles on the crop growth. They follow the moon phases for planting, nurturing, and harvesting a variety of crops and fetch great yields. This ancient art of gardening is known as lunar gardening.
Lunar gardeners believe that planting vegetable gardening during specific phases of the moon, or when the moon is in a particular zodiac sign, is beneficial. The basic rule involved in this lunar gardening is to follow the moon phases, and to act when the moon shows fertile, semi-fertile or barren signs.
According to the rules of lunar gardening, leaf crops should be planted when the moon is in water sign (Cancer, Scorpio or Pisces), fruit and seed crops in fire sign (Leo, Sagittarius or Aries), flower crops in air sign (Aquarius, Gemini or Libra) and root crops when the moon is in earth sign (Taurus, Virgo or Capricorn). Eclipses and other unlucky days are avoided.
The moon has four phases or quarters lasting about seven days each. The rhythm of the garden matches that of the moon phases in many ways. For example:
- At the first quarter i.e on new moon time, the lunar gravity pulls water up, and causes the seeds to swell and burst. This is a good time to plant crops like spinach, zucchini, cabbage, grains and cauliflower.
- In the second quarter, when the moon is waxing, the earth exhales. The type of crops that favors the second quarter are annuals that are produced above the ground, but seeds are formed inside the fruit such as beans, melons, peas, peppers, squash, and tomatoes.
- When the moon is waning, the earth is inhaling and absorbing. This is the time to water, or use natural fertilizers which will be well absorbed by soil and into the plant. This includes both tilling and weeding. This is a favorable time for planting root crops like beets, carrots, onions, potatoes, and peanuts.
- The fourth quarter is a fallow time in the garden, but ideal for composting and removing undergrowth.
Like vegetable gardening, flower gardening according to the moon phases is also popular among the gardeners worldwide. After sunset, these beautiful white flowers bloom and glow all night in the moonlight. Then, as the sun rises, they close their fragrant blooms. For a lunar garden that glows over three seasons, choose a variety of white annuals and perennials, shrubs and trees that flower at different times. Freesia, snowdrops, white tulips, creamy daffodils, dogwood, fothergilla, spirea, viburnums and rhododendrons will brighten early-to late-spring nights. The white bellflower, astilbe and falsespires flower in summers. Bugbane, monkshood and boltonia bloom from late summer to fall. You can feel the sweet scent of flowering plants that fills the air.
Lunar gardening holds more importance for soil gardeners than hydroponic gardeners. Conventional soil farmers reap the benefits of moon’s gravitation forces on Earth by following the lunar cycles. Those who are interested in lunar gardening with outdoor hydroponics will only have the advantage that altering night illumination according to moon phase will aid in better plant and root growth than other outdoor hydroponics.