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Planting By The Moon

There are only three main lunar cycles to consider when planting by the moon ...

One cycle is the one we see, in which the moon changes shape in the course of a 29.5-day month.

The second is when the daily arc of the moon across the sky rises or gets lower.

The third cycle is one we cannot see unless we have a measurement stick, because it is the changing size of the moon as it comes closer to the earth once per month and moves further away 14 days later.

When the peaks and troughs of the three lunar cycles are evenly distributed throughout the month there are more even weather patterns. But when two or more of these cycles peak together, tides are bigger and plants can undergo greater growth surges. For instance if one is planting seeds at the highest chance of rainfall, then these seeds will be more likely to become high yielding plants. Let’s look at how best to employ the three cycles .

The full moon/new moon cycle, around 29 days is called phase, which is the cycle we all notice

As the moon increases from new moon to full, plants receive greater energy which translates to greater metabolic activity and absorption rate of nutrients from the soil. Seeds germinate faster and there is a flush of fertility and growth.

Two days before full moon around 5pm is the most favourable time in the whole month for planting seeds. From new to full moon is called waxing and sap is rising in stems and trees, as are water tables and tides at the coast. Energies are going to the plant’s extremities, making fruit more colourful and juicier.

From full to new moon comes waning, and energy reverses back into the plant

Above-ground plant-activity maximizes when the moon is waxing because the moon’s energies are outwards, therefore more attention may be needed below ground, e.g. where water may be scarcer, hence more watering of roots may be necessary. This is a time of increasing light and moon pulling sap upwards into leaves and flowers.

Conversely, when the moon is waning, energies are directed back to stems and roots. Then, more attention may be needed above ground, e.g. where water may be scarcer on the surface, and leafy greens and flowers may require nourishment, or weeds and vines may need to be removed and perhaps extra shelter and/or water provided for leaves, therefore more above-surface watering and possibly spraying.

This is a phase of decreasing light and the general trend is for sap to be slowed in production.

The phase cycle does not always coincide with the next cycle to be considered, in which the moon is seen to be rising to an increasingly higher or lower point in the sky each day in its daily transiting arc. This is known as ascending or descending.

It is the 27.3-day declination cycle, and it is due to the tilt of the earth

It is important to distinguish between the two cycles and how they work together.  When the moon rises at its furthest point northeast for the month, it is north of the equator and the highest point it reaches in the day is low in the sky. This is Northern declination. Viewed from space you would see the moon over the northern hemisphere.

About 14 days later the moon is south of the equator and in our hemisphere.  When it reaches its southernmost point, Southern declination, it is overhead and the highest point in the sky in the month.  When the moon crosses the equator twice per month, either on its way north or south, it rises due east.

Viewed from the Southern Hemisphere, when the moon has left Northern declination and is soon to cross the equator and proceed south, appearing to daily climb ever higher in the southern hemisphere sky, this is called theascending moon because the arc reaches a higher and higher mid-point each day.

After Southern declination, for the southern hemisphere viewer, the Moon begins its return journey to the other side of the earth and starts to daily occupy a lower and lower position in the sky. This is called a descending moon.

Changes in moon directions can make a difference because energies flow either one way or the other

When ascending moon coincides with waxing moon, energies are doubly directed upwards and out to plant extremities, and all is expansion. This is a good time to plant, because seedlings are exposed to increased intakes and they will be encouraged to find their feet.

Above-ground manifestations are doubly enhanced. Sowing, which seeks to maximise growth, is best done during this time because the plant is “going for it” above and below ground.

But when descending coincides with waning, everything reverses – energies are inwards and downwards, and below-ground outcomes are assisted.

Therefore pruning, which seeks to minimize bleeding from severed branches, is best done when the moon is waning+descending because it is “quiet” above ground.

Some gardeners decide to only use one cycle, either phase (waxing/waning), or declination (ascending/descending). I feel that combining both is best.

Throughout the year the months vary such that the good planting (waxing+ascending) and pruning (waning+descending) days are mostly between April and August, and are least are between November – February.

That is why winter time in the southern hemisphere is better for gardening activities than summer.  It also explains why for the northern hemisphere, in particular the US, Canada and UK, from April – October is usually considered their best planting season.

The third cycle is the varying distance of the moon from the earth every 27-days, which brings increased wind and turbulent energies, enhancing or delaying growth

The day of closest position of moon to earth is called perigee. It is inclined to be a windy time, not good for spraying.  Perigee is about upward levitation of energies and minimizing of gravitation. It adds energy to ascension and waxing.

Apogee is when the moon is furthest from the earth for the month, bringing calmer energies, when electrical charges in the soil are less potent, and winds are lighter.

Apogee enhances downward direction of energies and minimizes upward levitation. It adds energy to descension and waning, and is a good time for planting seedlings, because the quieter ground enables young roots to gain a foothold.

Monthly perigee brings the highest tides. For half of any year full moon is perigeal, and for the other half, new moon is perigeal.

In 2015, perigees accompany new moon days between January and June, changing over to perigees + new moons July to December.

Closest perigees are February and September and bring highest tides, flooding chances and highest water table.

The rest days in the garden are when the moon is deemed to have less energizing power

It is an ideal time to attend to activities such as tidying a shed or workshop, repairing or maintaining outdoor structures or planning for the next activity when the moon is once more energized.

Between phases, eclipse days and the day after eclipse are considered days to rest, also.void-of-course days, that is, crossing between one constellation (zodiac sign) and the next.

The water table is last but not least factor to consider

Over-irrigation can be as harmful as under irrigating.  When the tide is high at the coast it is also high in the water table under the ground, something grazing stock seem to be aware of.  Because more below-ground moisture makes for sweeter grass it is not uncommon for farmers to use the grazing positions of cows to visually estimate the approach of extreme weather.

An unusual number of cows perhaps near the farmhouse (usually built on slightly higher land) can indicate a rapidly rising water table which can be a sign of approaching flooding.

The gardener should water more on days, e.g. 22 Sept 2015, on which the water table is relatively low and harvest on those days which will mean the crop will not rot as readily.

Picking on high water-table days can mean crops can be water-logged and tasteless and have shorter shelf-life. The opposite is of note when picking for preserving.

There is also a tide of varying height of the sap in trees, climbing vines and other plants that extend well above ground, that matches the water table

Insects aware of this timing become more active and more numerous because of the easy availability of nutrients. Birds are aware of where and when the insects are arriving. Plants are in constant need of pollination servicing by insects and birds, so on days of high tidal variations, bird and insect life is on the move and pollination increases through the numbers of insects and bees seeking nectar and birds eating then spreading seeds.

Grafting is better done at times of higher water table levels, when plants are not under thirsting stress and nature is more on the move

By using tide charts in combination with the optimum activities, you can make better decisions on when to water plants and when not to. For those who do not wish to work out all the aforementioned factors we have prepared an easy-read table telling you when to sow and when to prune for 2015-16.

©copyright Ken Ring  Predict Weather


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