The Lunar Calendar – the gardener’s friend

Lunar Calendar
In this article Andrew Sloan shares his experience of gardening with the lunar calendar. Astronomical calendars have been used for centuries, probably first developed by the Chinese over 2500 years ago, but also used by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. In 1924 Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher, developed his theory of biodynamic agriculture, that includes many of the ideas of organic farming but predates the term, and also uses a system of planting by the phases of the moon and the signs of the zodiac.
 
LUNAR PHASES
The moon orbits the Earth during a period of 29 days, 12 hours and 44 minutes.
 
The WAXING MOON is the period from the new moon to the full moon. The vitality of plants increases with the increased light from the moon. Energy is rising so this is a time for encouraging upward growth as plants become stronger. This is also a time for germinating and planting flowers and above ground crops (lettuce, melons etc)
 
The WANING MOON is the period from the full moon to the next new moon. Each day there is less light from the moon and less energy transmitted to the plants, so their vitality declines although colours, smells and tastes are enhanced. This is a time for encouraging downward growth, eg planting root crops and bulbs. 
 
ASCENDING AND DESCENDING MOON
The ascending and descending movement of the moon in its monthly cycle is comparable to the annual cycle of the sun which ascends during 6 months of the year and descends the other 6 months. The moon is ascending during the period in which its orbit is higher each day. During this period there is more sap and more activity above the earth in the plants. When the moon is descending the internal liquids of the plants are descending and the vegetable activity is taking place beneath the earth’s surface, in the roots.
 
CONSTELLATION OF THE ZODIAC
The Zodiac is the ring of constellations that the sun passes through each year as the Earth orbits around it. When the Moon passes in front of a constellation it activates the influences of the constellation and transmits it to the Earth.
FIRE: When the Moon passes a constellation of Fire, (Aries, Leo or Sagittarius), this is a good time for working with fruits and seeds (cereals, tomatoes, beans etc)
EARTH: When the Moon passes a constellation of Earth (Taurus, Virgo or Capricornus) this is a good time for working with root plants (carrots, potatoes etc)
AIR: When the Moon passes a constellation of Air (Gemini, Libra or Aquarius) this is a good time for working with flowers, including flower vegetables like cauliflowers and artichokes
WATER: When the Moon passes a constellation of Water (Cancer, Scorpius or Pisces) this is a good time for working with leafy plants (spinach, lettuce etc)
 
An easy to follow booklet is published each year in Spain by Artus Porta Manresa (calendario@lunario.es). Andrew continues his article with some practical applications of the Lunar calendar on line at www.lachispa.net
 
PRACTICAL APPLICATION
All the above can seem a bit complicated but fortunately the published lunar calendars put it all together in a very simple format with a chart for each month showing the lunar cycle and identifying the most favourable days for working with fruits, leaves, flowers and roots. The basic rule is to work out whether you want upward or downward lunar energy for what you want to do and act on a favourable day.
 
On our finca in Southern Spain I use the calendar as much as possible for our vegetable garden, flowers and fruit trees as follows
 
VEGETABLES: I germinate seeds for fruits like tomatoes and aubergines on a fruit day, waxing moon phase (upward energy for growth), transplant them on a fruit day, waning moon (downward energy for the roots) and harvest them on a fruit day, waxing moon (better harvest that will conserve longer). The same applies for lettuces, spinach and other leaf plants except on a leaf day rather than fruit day whereas root vegetables like potatoes and carrots should be germinated ,transplanted and harvested on a roots day in waning moon (downward energy for the roots).
 
FRUIT TREES: We have a lot of olive trees which I try to prune on a fruit day, waning/descending moon phase (downward energy so less sap in the trees). As the olive harvest takes a minimum of 5 days it is difficult to coincide this with the right fruit days although it is best to mill the olives on a fruit day, waxing/ascending moon eg 19th, 20th November this year. Other fruits that can be harvested in a shorter period should be harvested on a fruit day, waxing moon,eg August 21st this year. Last year we harvested our almond tree on such a day and they were the tastiest, best texture almonds we have ever had. Grafting of fruit trees is best done on a fruit day, ascending moon (upward energy) eg 3rd, 21st, 30th August this year.
 
FLOWERS: I germinate seeds on a flowers day, waxing/ascending moon (21st April), transplant them on a flowers day, waning/descending moon (26th May) and try to give them “help” with compost, manure and weeding on a flowers day with descending moon. Flowers cut to be put inside the house in vases should be cut on a flowers day , waxing moon phase (upward energy). Bulbs like tulips and daffodils are best planted on a flowers day, descending moon (9th,10th October) as they need downward activity.
 
The results we have had have been very favourable and I find the Lunar Calendar to both be fun to use and stimulating and in line with our thinking to respect and look after our environment. We have extended its use as to when to have my hair cut (waxing moon with the upward energy stimulating hair growth!) and no doubt will find other uses. Give it a try!
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