Phases of the Moon & the Vegetative Cycle

Illustration by an unknown artist of the 15th century. Art Gallery, Frankfort.

The phases of the Moon are an important element, even for those who don’t subscribe to any other form of astrology.  Observation of the phases is commonly used to plan a new venture or complete one already in progress,  For example, a project might begin at the New Moon and be completed at the Full Moon. Gardening with the phases in mind will yield substantial results. Consideration of the Moon in all forms of Electional astrology is crucial.

The phases of Monn are shown below in graphic form, from Spring to Autumn in the Northern hemisphere, reflecting the planting, growing and harvesting of crops. These are for 2018 and will be updated when the time comes. Click on any one of them for a larger image.

Pliny the Elder, the first-century Roman naturalist, stated in his Natural History writings that the Moon “replenishes the earth; when she approaches it, she fills all bodies, while, when she recedes, she empties them.” The simplest element in planting or doing anything by the phases of the Moon is the knowledge that at the Full Moon the sap is drawn upwards Sap, of course, can include all fluids in this context. This is why the old Farmer’s Almanac’s included the best times to harvest.  At the Dark of the Moon, the sap is lowest in the plant and is perhaps best portrayed as potential, but we need to know something about the plant we are talking about. The plants that most of us cultivate, fall into simple, easy to identify and memorize categories.  It should be noted that these are all crops which can be cultivated in a temperate climate.

Planting by the Phases of the Moon

Pieter Brueghel The Younger (Belgian, 1564/1565-1636) Summer: harvesting “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 ” ( Ecclesiastes 3)

This is a very simple rule of thumb guide to the planting of various crops during the different phases of the Moon. I hope you find it useful. The Moon has the most immediate and obvious effects on so many terrestrial events from turning the tides to the growth of vegetation. Familiarity with the Lunar cycle will be of great benefit.

The most basic law is that a Full or Waxing Moon is said to pull the plants upward, which results in a bountiful harvest.  Above-ground crops should, therefore, be planted in the Waxing Please. Crops that bear their harvested fruit below ground should be planted in the Dark of the Moon. So …

Plant green leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce and cabbage. Cauliflower and broccoli also do well at this time of planting. You can also plant celery and other annuals. One of the key common characteristics is that the crop we harvest is above the ground and high in chlorophyll. Above ground, crops are to be planted when the Moon is Waxing. The New Moon is the best time to sow or transplant leafy annuals such as lettuce, spinach, cabbage, and celery

Fruit and vegetables such as melons, peas, peppers, squash, tomatoes, beans and other annual crops that produce fruit during the second moon quarter, up to two or three days before the Moon is full. This is because the sap is highest in the plant. The First Quarter Phase of the Moon ia ideal for annual fruits, and foods with external seeds, such as tomatoes, pumpkins, broccoli and beans.

Root crops do very well when planted during the Moon’s waning phase, Soon after the Full Moon, when fluids are drawn down.,you can plant carrots, potatoes, beets, onions, rhubarb and bulbs

The signs are also important and this requires more knowledge. We still need to know the phase, but we also need to know the Moon’s place in the Zodiac, For example, water and earth signs—Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces, Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn— bring moist and fertile conditions. Air signs, – Libra, Aquarius and Gemini are warm and moist signs. However, most air and all fire signs—Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius—are said to be barren. The exception is Libra, said to be a relatively fertile sign.

Some signs are also said to have an affinity for specific types of plants.  For this, you can consult Culpeper and other traditional sources which subscribe to ancient Moon lore.

There is also the contemporary Farmers’ Almanac, which provides a wealth of information and wisdom born of practical experience with farmers and gardeners of all kinds. since anyone can remember, available at Gardening by the Moon Calendar

It is generally agreed that planting during the fourth quarter of the Moon is not a good idea because the Moon’s gravitational force is lowest at this time. Harvesting also has it’s best times, which again can be determined by the Moon.

Below shows the phases of the Moon for the growing season of 2020 in the Northern Hemisphere

Graphic charts such as they are handy, but if you live far enough away from the worst of urban light pollutions, there is nothing like observing the Moon outside. The most visible Moons and Full and they have names. Many people are aware of the Algonquin names given to the Full Moons Ironically, many Europeans have forgotten the names in their own traditions. As you can see, the names are related to the activities, whether they are planting, reaping or hunting.

Northern Hemisphere full moon names by month:

January: Old Moon, Moon After Yule
February: Snow Moon, Hunger Moon, Wolf Moon
March: Sap Moon, Crow Moon, Lenten Moon
April: Grass Moon, Egg Moon, Pink Moon
May: Flower Moon, Planting Moon, Milk Moon
June: Rose Moon, Flower Moon, Strawberry Moon
July: Thunder Moon, Hay Moon
August: Green Corn Moon, Grain Moon
September: Fruit Moon, Harvest Moon
October: Harvest Moon, Hunter’s Moon
November: Hunter’s Moon, Frosty Moon, or Beaver Moon
December: Cold Moon, Moon Before Yule, or Long Night Moon

Growing and gathering medicinal and culinary herbs.

Lupinum (lupine), depicted on the left page, top right-hand side from Pseudo-Apuleius Herbal, 11th century Bodleian MS Ashmole 1431, fols 27v-28r.

The majority of herbs are quite hardy and learning a repertoire of a dozen or so herbs can treat almost anything, as the combining of herbs can alter the effect and even the part of the body that is affected.. Culinary herbs such as oregano parsley sage and chives are easily grown even inside the house given adequate light. There is nothing to compare to fresh herbs in any dish.

Nevertheless to master herbology takes time and effort. Finding a good and willing mentor is a good option.  Some classics such as those by Nicolas Culpeper are something any aspiring herbalist or astrologer should read. His system of associating plants and particularly herbs. with the planets and luminaries is something he learned in no small part from William Lilly, We are fortunate that this wor is in public domain and can be downloaded here.

Beyond identifying herbs and their astrological correspondence, there is an art to preserving them in a variety of ways. There are a few drying techniques which will do well for some herbs. Other require the process of putting the medicinal herb into a tincture ar a slave.. Sometimes the same herb may be preserved in many different ways for differing medical conditions.