Posted by: christinelaennec | January 5, 2011

A new gardening year – by the moon?

Peace Rose

We’ve put all the Christmas decorations away – in good time for tomorrow, Epiphany, for as everyone knows they must all be away by then.  And we’ve written our “Christmas wishes 2011” to tuck into the top box of decorations.  This is a tradition we began when the children were little.  I read or heard about it somewhere, and we enjoy doing it.  The idea is that you each write your hopes and wishes for the newly-begun year, tuck them away with your Christmas decorations, and then if you’re like us you completely forget all about them until you open that box next December.  It’s a nice amnesia, because it’s fun to see how many wishes came true, and even how many wishes you no longer care that much about.  I find it very interesting to watch the development of my children’s wishes over the years as well.

So the wishes have been made, the tree is gone, the living room looks oddly bare… time to begin thinking of the garden!  This year, for the second year in a row, I’m going to make an attempt – rather a faint one at that – to garden by the moon.

What do I mean by that?  It’s not gardening by moonlight, rather, gardening according to the phases of the moon.  These are very old principles that used to be much more widely adhered to in the past.  (For example, it’s said to be best to plant above-ground crops during the first quarter of the moon, and to harvest during the full moon, because at this time moisture is at its greatest.)  I was vaguely aware of these old sayings, and then a few years ago I purchased In Tune With the Moon from the Findhorn Press.  From this I learned even more:  for example, that the ascending moon will affect the above-ground parts of plants, and the descending moon will affect the below-ground parts.  Since then, I’ve made my own moon chart for the garden.  It’s not a work of art (!), but a handy reference (until you get down to October, obviously):

My chart of the phases of the moon for 2011

On it I’ve marked the weekends in blue; the phases of the moon from new to full and back again; the pattern of the moon’s ascending and descending phases; and lastly, the days when you’re not supposed to garden!  These are days when the moon is at perigee, apogee, or there is a lunar node.  (I will not pretend that I understand what these things really mean, or why it is that their effect is allegedly so bad!)

My guide in making my chart is the wonderful Farmer’s Almanac that my darling sister and/or mother send to me every year from the States:

2011 Old Farmer's Almanac. Published in Dublin, New Hampshire, since 1792.

The Farmer’s Almanac is, as it says on the cover, “useful with a pleasant degree of humor”.  It contains all sorts of interesting information.  Some of it, such as the long-range weather forecasts, pertains only to the U.S.  But it’s very informative about various traditions, folklore, weather, astronomy, gardening, and so on.  If you’re interested, have a look at the Old Farmer’s Almanac website.

Here’s what the January page looks like:

January 2011 page, Old Farmer's Almanac

The days when the moon is at apogee, perigee or a lunar node I have underlined in blue.  These are supposedly days when it’s better not to garden.  The only trouble with this is, between work, family, my writing and other commitments, I can’t always be hugely flexible about the days I garden – or plant seeds, or harvest, etc.  So this is why I say that my attempt to garden “by the moon” will be weak at times.  As much as I wish to try to work with nature, I also comfort myself with what the great gardener Christopher Lloyd once wrote:  “The best time to do something in the garden is when you have the time.”  Sometimes that’s just the best we can do.

I’ll let you know how I get on.  I hope you’re all having a good start to the New Year!



  1. Completely stupid question – are the phases of the moon the same in the UK as in the US? Don’t they happen at different times due to time differences etc? I had a friend who used this method for gardening and she claimed it worked wonders. Good luck!

    • This is not at all a stupid question! I compared the (UK) In Tune with the Moon with the (US) Old Farmer’s Almanac for a year, and although the precise time of the new moon (or full moon, etc.) is obviously different between Boston and London, everything else was the same. I suppose it works because we’re in the same hemisphere and at most 8 hours apart, and the moon phases are a week long so 8 hours doesn’t make a huge difference. The non-gardening days (apogee / perigee / lunar nodes) were sometimes a day sooner or later between the UK and US – obviously the choice of a 24-hour period is going to be somewhat random for such events, depending on when exactly they happen. That’s another reason why I won’t necessarily down tools just because it’s one of Those Days. I’m sure if I were motivated enough I could find all the correct information for GMT… 🙂 What does that tell you?!
      I’m so pleased to hear your friend had good success. I haven’t adhered strictly enough to gardening by the moon to really say whether I’ve noticed a difference. But if I can give the garden the best possible chance to succeed, I will.

  2. Goodevening Christine, I don’t have a garden but a very big balcony, and I’ve read this post with much interest.I do believe that the moon has got a great influence on our lives.Much more babies are born during full moon..I can see that in the hospital….
    Nice story thanks
    Hugs (Yes Hugs again hahaha)

  3. Thank you for the reminder. I have seen articles about this before but never followed through. Even though it snowed again today (in Edinburgh) and is too cold to be gardening I can always aim to follow this advice. I see there is a blog which would guide you through the calendar:

  4. Thanks for joining me at my blog. It’s so nice to make new friends, isn’t it? Happy new year, too. May it bring you everything you dream of.

  5. Dear Erna, Vivienne and Relyn,
    Thanks so much for your comments and good wishes. Erna, how interesting about more babies being born at the full moon. Yes, I think the moon does have a subtle – or not so subtle, if you’re in labour! – effect on our lives. Vivienne, thanks for finding this. I hadn’t looked at the In Tune with the Moon blog for a while, it looks as if it’s even more informative now. Relyn, you have such an interesting and attractive blog, I’m honoured you left a comment on mine!

  6. I have tried to do this, with limited success. I love the Christopher Lloyd quote – so true. often the only time I would be able to get into the garden would be the most inauspicious time. Interestingly, the man in the museum at Stornoway told John that seed planting times were traditionally influenced by the moon phase.

  7. I have some good friends who used to live in Findhorn and who garden with great success (in Spain) according to these principles. I have to admit I haven’t been tempted to try it here myself. There isn’t much time for gardening since I can only do it when well enough and when it isn’t raining too hard and when I have no other commitments….I’m not sure I could face trying to plan it round the moon as well! I am very interested in hearing about your results and experiences though and wish you lots of luck with it.

  8. Dear Jacqui and Purlpower, I so agree that it’s far more important to do what we can, when we can, rather than stress ourselves out about more or less propitious times of the day/week/month. I’m sure the garden benefits most from our being happy when we’re gardening!

  9. This month is going to be a hard month on the allotment. Becouse i have taken on starting a new allotments at st marks church in northwood kirkby.It is going to be a comunity allotment and I am taken them a shed tomorrow to start them of We will help them dig it over and they can cume to my allotment to see how it is done Then when i have done that i need to tend to my plants at my allotment Then i have to go to westvales allotments to see how they are doing then i have to plant all my out side burders that just this month next month is going to be just has bizy thanks joey northwood kirkby comunity allotments.

    • Dear Joseph,
      That does sound like a lot of work, but it will all be worth it! The children will get so much out of that. (Just watch your back and don’t overdo it!)

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