To remember the once-in-a-lifetime eclipse today, we’re going to talk a little about gardening by the moon. (See what I did there?) I can clearly remember the first time I ever heard reference to gardening by the moon. I had plans for a big bed of potatoes and when I mentioned it to my mother in law, she said I needed to be sure to plant by the dark of the moon. I’d never heard that phrase in my entire life, but I DID know that I had no plans to go out and plant taters in the middle of the night, regardless of what she had to say. Oh Lardy, I was so stinkin’ young then.
A few years later, while talking dirt with my mama, she said the Old Farmer’s Almanac suggested it would be a good weekend to plant such and such a crop, based on the moon, and that’s when things started to click for me. This wasn’t a myth or a silly wives’ tales, but a speculative science, examining lunar cycles and the physical changes that accompany it on living organisms. Now, I’ll freely confess that I’m still on the fence about some of this, but I think there’s enough evidence to merit its consideration.
So just a very brief overview for you to ponder. Gardening by the moon isn’t a based on astrological signs but according to the lunar cycle. The ages-old belief is that the various stages of the moon have a direct impact on seed germination and plant growth. The gravitational forces that pull on the Earth creating high and low tides also affect the water content of the soil, so to yield the most vigorous plants and the largest crops, you should plant them during the lunar phase that will best suit them. Weather allowing, Farmer’s Almanac says to plant annuals and plants that bear fruit above ground during the light (waxing) of the moon and perennials and root crops during the dark (waning) of the moon. Beyond just planting, there are numerous farm-related chores that are said to be significantly impacted by the moon’s phase; chores such as timbering, fishing, hatching eggs, pruning and such. I don’t know if that’s true or not. As I said, lunar gardening is still new to me and I’m still firmly on the fence about it, but I CAN tell you this: There have been numerous years that there was a significant difference in yields between my garden and my mama’s….despite the fact we lived only minutes apart, had similar soil composition, bought seed from the same source, amended our soils with the same compost, plowed in the same straw at the end of the season. The only difference: she planted by moon phases and I didn’t.
It’s been my observation in the past few years that unusual wisdom and what we consider old wives’ tales often have their feet firmly based in truth. Our grandparents looked to the sky for navigation, to develop calendars and to predict weather, so why does it seem so strange that we’d also use the moon as a guide as we tend the Earth?
Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years. Genesis 1:14
Anyway, I hope you have the opportunity to go out and *safely* enjoy the eclipse today. I plan on being on the front porch with my husband’s welding mask and a glass of iced tea as this is an experience I don’t want to miss! Til next time—