One of the most vital concepts in biodynamic gardening involves the natural cosmic rhythms, and thus planting by the Moon cycles is key. Planting according to lunar phases goes back to ancient agriculture, and this understanding was further expounded on by Rudolph Steiner in the 1920s with his deep cosmic knowledge of how these lunar cycles affected plant growth. In a nutshell, when the Moon is waxing, it is time to plant above ground crops, and when the Moon is waning, it is time to plant below ground crops.
We are all aware of the Moon’s gravitational pull on the Earth during the full moon that affects the ocean tides. The ocean tides are at their highest during the full Moon, and ancient gardeners believed when the Moon pulls the tides to their peak, it is also pulling upon all water to swell within the earth which promotes the growth in plants. If planting is done a day or two before the New Moon, both gravitational forces and light are most favorable in the week that follows. Over the course of the next seven days as the Moon begins to grow with an increase in light and gravitational pull, the abundance of light is favorable for leaf growth, but the extra pull is not favorable for root growth. While young shoots thrive, roots rest. The following week the decreased light of the full Moon slows leaf growth as the decreased pull encourages root development. This is the best time to transplant seedlings. The last week of the lunar cycle brings less light as the pull increases which allows both roots and leaves to rest prior to the New Moon and a repeat of this cycle.
Lunar Planting Guide
First Quarter (waxing)
Plant annuals that produce above-ground, leafy parts and produce their seeds outside of themselves, such as lettuce, spinach, and cabbage.
Second Quarter (waxing)
Plant above-ground annuals that produce their seeds inside, including beans, squash, peas, and tomatoes.
Third Quarter (waning)
Plant annual bulbs and root crops such as onions, potatoes, beets, and carrots as well as all biennials and perennials.
Fourth Quarter (waning)
Also called the dark of the moon, this is not a good time to plant. Cultivate, weed, turn compost, prune.
Another simple guide is:
• New Moon- roots and shoots encouraged
• Waxing Moon- roots rest, leaves grow
• Full Moon- roots develop, leaf growth slows
• Waning Moon- roots and leaves rest
The biodynamic gardening calendar explores the rhythms of Nature so crop cultivation can be timed for the best success and productivity. Along with lunar planting, the calendar considers the influence of the twelve constellations as well as the breathing cycles of the Earth. As the Earth breathes in from noon to midnight, soil and roots are nourished. As the Earth breathes out from midnight to noon, leaves and flowers are nourished. Therefore, it is best work with plants in the morning and plant in the afternoon.
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