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Slow Global Warming

GARDENING BY THE MOON

by Gary Brand - written in April 1982 for his column "Down-to-Earth Astrology"
published in the May 1982 edition of Spectrum newspaper in Tallahassee, Florida

Color mosaic comprised of 18 images of the Moon
taken by the Galileo spacecraft on its way to Jupiter This color mosaic is comprised of 18 images taken on December 7, 1992 by the Galileo spacecraft while on its way to Jupiter.  The Moon's north pole is located just inside the shadow about a third of the way from the top of the illuminated area, most of which is visible from Earth.  Courtesy of NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:  a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.”

he above quote is from the Book of Ecclesiastes (3:1-2) in the Bible, but you may also recognize it as the theme of a popular song of the sixties by Pete Seeger.  Many of the pioneers and the mountain people of the Appalachian Mountains took this passage quite literally and used the moon's phases and passage through the signs of the zodiac to plan their daily activities, including and especially gardening.

Although astrology is the study of all the planets, including the Sun and Moon, and their placements in the zodiac - our ancestors quite successfully used only the movement of the moon as a guide to their daily activities.  By knowing which sign of the zodiac the Moon is in and the Moon's phase, anyone can use this basic information to determine the most advantageous time to undertake a variety of endeavors.

The following is a synopsis of the basics you need to understand gardening by the Moon.  The zodiac is a band of constellations in the sky through which all of the planets and the moon travel.  It is divided into 12 equal sections of 30 degrees each called the "signs" of the zodiac.  These 12 signs were assigned names by the ancients according to the constellations with which they corresponded (more than two millennia ago).  The signs were also associated with the elements of basic existence:  fire, earth, air, and water.  There are three signs associated with each of these elements:  Aries, Leo and Sagittarius are fire signs; Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn are earth signs; Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius are air signs; and Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces are water signs.

The Moon completes one orbit around the Earth and, therefore, traverses the entire zodiac every 27½ days, spending about 2½ days in each sign.  This cycle can be divided into four quarters as follows:  the period of time between the new Moon and the half-full Moon is the 1st quarter, the 2nd quarter is when the Moon is still growing in apparent size from half-full to a full Moon, the 3rd quarter is the period between the full Moon and a half-full Moon as it decreases in apparent size, and the 4th quarter is between the half-full Moon and the next new Moon.  During the first two quarters when the Moon is growing in apparent size, it is said to be waxing and during the last two quarters when it is decreasing in apparent size, it is said to be waning.

Each new Moon begins a new lunar cycle and therefore represents beginnings.  If this principle is applied to human activities, the first two quarters of the lunar cycle represent the best time to begin new projects or to plant (which is a "beginning"), especially crops that bear above ground.  On the other hand, the last two quarters of the cycle represent endings so the best time for harvesting (which is an "ending") is during these quarters.  If the principle of beginnings and endings is combined with the principles of the elements, the best time to plant is during the first or second quarter when the moon is in a water sign, since water is the necessary medium by which plants obtain nutrients to grow (the Moon is "growing" during these quarters), or when the Moon is in the earth signs of Taurus or Capricorn, since earth provides the nutrients to sustain plants.

Planting or transplanting should be avoided when the Moon is in a fire sign.  However, it is a good time to bake (since heat is involved) or to pull weeds and destroy unwanted plants, especially during the third or fourth quarters since these activities are "endings."  If crops are harvested during the last two quarters of the lunar cycle, they will keep better and bruises won't be prone to rot.  Root crops will be most productive if planted during the 4th quarter because the Moon is "hidden" from view then, just like the fruits of root crops.  Graft plants during the first two quarters when the Moon is in a water sign and the graft will take well.  For the most beautiful and productive flowers, plant during the first two quarters when the Moon is in the sign of Libra or Taurus, since both represent beauty.  Although these are only a few examples, with imagination you can apply these principles to a number of activities.  The Moon's phases are given in the newspaper and are often included on calendars.  The sign that the Moon is in on a given day is included in some almanacs or may be obtained from an astrological ephemeris or calendar.  Either of these can be obtained or ordered in most local bookstores [or on the Internet].  Happy gardening!
Good Timing and Location are Keys to Success

Gary Brand, Traditional Astrologer
Tallahassee, Florida
850-656-5758


© copyright 1982-2013 Gary Brand.  All Rights Reserved.