The Moon is that mystical, spherical body that revolves around Earth every 29 days or so. It passes from its “new” phase, when it is missing from the evening sky, to full, when it is a glorious, golden disc lighting the landscape on its nighttime journey, and then back to new again. This dance, during which the Moon visits the entire zodiac 13 times each year, somehow tosses our oceans from shore to shore. It’s utterly amazing and, it influences plant growth, the harvest, and produce preservation.
Earth is most fertile and receptive to the planting of seeds when the Moon is in a water or earth sign. Check the phase of the Moon when you are considering the type of crop to sow or plant: Root and underground vegetables are favored in the dark of the Moon when it is waning, and aboveground crops grow better if they are sown or planted in the light of the Moon, or its waxing phase.
Harvesting crops follow a similar schedule. The earth signs are best, but water signs are also good. Consider the Moon’s phase before you begin gathering from your garden. Plants that produce leafy, fruity parts above the ground are best picked during the Moon’s waxing phase, while plants such as potatoes and carrots, which produce bulbous, dense, underground parts, are at their peak of perfection during the Moon’s waning phase.
Pruning bushes and trees “flows” best when the Moon is a fire sign. When your goal is to encourage growth in hedges and ornamentals, prune when the Moon is waxing. When you want these plants to retain their shape for as long as possible, prune when the Moon is waning.
The fire signs are excellent times to get rid of pests and weeds. Fire transmutes, so this energy takes unwanted insects and plants and reduces them to their innate and reusable form (in the compost pile).
The fire signs are also arid. Herbs picked especially for drying will dehydrate well when harvested at these times. If your area isn’t dusty, pick these plants on a dry morning and tie them with string in bundles. (If the plants are dirty, rinse them with cool water and allow them to dry completely before bundling.) Hang herbs in an airy, dry, and shaded spot (porches and open-ended sheds are ideal) for dehydration.
Vegetables and fruit that you want to preserve by canning, pickling, or fermenting (as in sauerkraut) will do best when you undertake these activities during the Moon’s waning phase. The water signs are also ideal for preserving.
There is nothing quite as succulent as the harvest that comes from your own backyard. Gardening by the Moon can add ease and abundance to your efforts. Connecting with Earth is healing not only in our ingestion of its bounty but also in the touching of the plants and the soil. Happy gardening!
Waning and Waxing
THE MOON’S WANING PHASE: between the full Moon and the new Moon
THE MOON’S WAXING PHASE: between the new Moon and the full Moon
See “A Gardener’s Calendar,” page 12, for Moon phase dates.
WATER SIGNS: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
EARTH SIGNS: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
FIRE SIGNS: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
See the Moon’s astrological place calendar, page 20, to check a date for the Moon’s place in the zodiac.
Celeste Longacre is an author and astrologer from Alstead, New Hampshire. She grows all of her vegetables organically in her backyard and preserves them by freezing, drying, root cellaring, and canning.