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):
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:
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:
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!