Today is a Full Moon day, this month it’s called a Strong Sun Moon, though there’s little sign of the Sun at the moment. As Amsterdam Elderflowers are in full bloom right now, I thought it may be a particularly good day to harvest them. My diary says it is a Flower and Fruit Day but just what does that mean? I wrote a post about the phases and astrological significance of Lunar Herb Gardening some time ago and here’s a nice webpage on Our Gardening Gang which goes into some detail about gardening activities (though it call them chores…) which are best done at certain times of the lunar cycle.
In a couple of weeks I’m running a Mugwort workshop, very close to the New Moon and Midsummer’s Day. We’ll be harvesting flowering Mugwort and processing it straight away. The New Moon itself is not a good day for gardening activities, so we will be meeting the day before, which is another Flower and Fruit Day. There is not always the freedom to plan harvesting and gardening around the Moon but it if you haven’t already tried it, perhaps at least considering it will add an enriching dimension to your herbal activities.
If the sun dries off the Elder flowers today, I shall be collecting a few. In a couple of days I shall be planting some Ginger which is sprouting in my kitchen, doing it now may slow it’s growth. So what herbal activities will you be doing on this Full Moon?
Spring is well underway here in Amsterdam and I plan to begin indoor planting of a few annual herbs this week. As I pulled out my box of saved seeds it reminded me to find my lunar gardening guide so that I can get the seedlings off to a really good start. Gardening by the moon is thought by many to increase crop yield and quality. It is at the heart of biodynamic gardening and farming practices. Given the choice I buy biodynamic vegetables; I think they taste better and they seem more healthy. I’ve been dabbling in lunar gardening for about 15 years, I’ve never approached it scientifically but it seems that when I pay more attention to lunar gardening my plants do better. Perhaps they simply benefit from more love and attention, perhaps it is indeed the lunar effect. I don’t mind which it is but my plants generally do very well when I garden by the moon.
It is not difficult to get a feel for lunar gardening, you can start by simply:
- Planting annuals which “produce” above the ground (such as Calendula & Nasturtians) during the increasing light half of the moon cycle (waxing moon).
- Planting herbs which store energy below the ground; biennials, perennials, bulbs, and root plants (such as Madder, Dandelion, Garlic, Ginger & Soapwort) during the darkening half of the cycle (waning moon).
- Increasing light (waxing) means the period from dark/new moon to full moon, decreasing light (waning) means the period from full moon to dark moon.
If you find gardening by the dark and light periods straight forward you may want to take things a step further. This involves considering each quarter of the moon cycle. The 1st quarter begins straight after a New Moon:
1st Quarter (Increasing to Half Full Moon):
During the waxing moon gravitational forces are thought to pull water higher in the ground and plants. This is thought to assist seed germination and the growth and development of leaves and stems.
- Plant leafy annual herbs which produce above ground and have seeds outside of fruit
(E.g. Basils, Coriander, Borage, Dill, Rocket, Safflower, Stevia, Parsley-a biennial but treated as an annual)
2nd Quarter (Half Full to Full Moon):
- Plant viny annuals that yield above ground and have seeds inside their fruit. (E.g. Red Clover, Dyer’s Broom, Nightshade family, Bitter Gourd, Chickweed – though it usually plants itself).
3rd Quarter (Decreasing to Half Full Moon):
During the waning moon, lunar gravitational forces are said to pull water down in plants and the soil.
- Plant biennials, perennials, bulbs, and root herbs, those that overwinter and produce their crop the next year, trees, shrubs, berries and grapes
(E.g. Dandelion, Rosemary, Sage, Gogi berry, Mellissa, Witch Hazel, Chives, Lavender, Myrtle, Garlic, Thyme, Oregano, Marjoram, Valerian, Yarrow, Mints, Lovage, Winter Savory, Marjoram & Lemongrass).
4th Quarter (Half Full to New Moon):
- The best time to cultivate, prune woody shrubs, pull weeds, discourage garden pests and turn the soil (especially when the Moon is in a barren sign).
If you fancy taking lunar gardening to the next level then you will also need to consider Moon Signs. The following details of how to incorporate them is taken directly from the Llewellyn books website. If you want to do this then it is probably best to get a copy of Llewellyn’s Astrological Calendar, Gwydion’s Planting Guide or another similar publication, to ensure your dates are correct.
Even simpler, visit Lunarorganics.com. A useful website on this subject, they sell a very easy to use lunar gardening year planner.
Planting by Moon Signs (From Llewellyn’s 2008 Astrological Calendar.
- MOON IN ARIES: Barren, dry, fiery, and masculine; use for destroying noxious growths and pests, and for cultivating, plowing, and tilling.
- MOON IN TAURUS: Productive, moist, earthy, and feminine. Use for planting crops, particularly root vegetables and potatoes, when hardiness is important.
- MOON IN GEMINI: Barren, dry, airy, and masculine. Use for cultivating, or for destroying noxious growths, weeds, and pests.
- MOON IN CANCER: Very fruitful, moist, and feminine. Use this productive sign for planting and irrigation.
- MOON IN LEO: Barren, dry, fiery, and masculine. Use this barren sign for killing weeds, and other noxious growths, and for cultivation.
- MOON IN VIRGO: Barren, moist, earthy, and feminine. Use this sign for cultivating, weeding, and destroying pests.
- MOON IN LIBRA: Semi-fruitful, moist, airy, and masculine. Use for planting crops and enhancing root growth. It is a good sign for flowers and vines, seeding hay, corn for fodder, and other livestock needs.
- MOON IN SCORPIO: Very fruitful, moist, and feminine. Use this very productive sign for planting most things; especially good for vines and sturdiness.
- MOON IN SAGITTARIUS: Barren, fiery, dry, and masculine. Use this sign for planting onions, seeding hay, etc. Also good for cultivation.
- MOON IN CAPRICORN: Productive, but dry, earthy, and feminine. Plant potatoes and other root crops.
- MOON IN AQUARIUS: Barren, dry, airy, and masculine. Use for cultivation and for destroying noxious growths, weeds, and pests.
- MOON IN PISCES: Very fruitful, moist, and feminine. Use for planting most things, and especially good for root growth.