By the Light of the Moon

HerbDoc has some interesting thoughts on spring planting:

Farmers and gardeners have been tuned into the phases of the moon for centuries.  Controlling pests, fertilization, harvesting, irrigation, planting and even animal breeding were often dictated by the moon phases, sometimes in conjunction with astrological signs.

For gardeners, the important rule is to plant above ground vegetables such as lettuce and other leafy plants “by the light of the moon.”  This is the period after the New Moon when the light gradually increases to the Full Moon.  Crops that produce below the ground such as onions and potatoes are planted “by the dark of the moon”, that is the period after the Full Moon when the light decreases.  It is said that by following these practices, crops will grow larger and more quickly with bigger yields.  On the other hand, if one does the opposite, negative results will occur.

My grandmother always followed three “moon” rules:

1) Plant seeds within 2 days (48 hours) before a full moon;

2) Plant potatoes only by the dark of the moon; and

3) Never plant anything on the day of a Full Moon, a New Moon, or

in the last quarter (to the New Moon).

My grandmother’s gardens were always amazing, producing huge amounts of vegetables for “putting by” and gorgeous annuals and perennials.  Not one to question her wisdom, I follow her lead, but not always with such spectacular results.  (I attribute that to not having the three dozen or so chickens which provided composted manure for her gardens on a yearly basis).

To find specific dates for planting and other gardening chores in 2010, log onto for a free guide.


About dirtynailz

Writer for a daily newspaper, gardener, tree hugger, orchid-grower, photographer, animal lover, hiker, wilderness seeker. Proponent of clover in the lawn and a dog on the bed.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to By the Light of the Moon

  1. cjwright says:

    Someone recently asked me a question about the meaning of “the light nights of March” (for cutting timber). Have you heard that expression? Maybe it’s interchangeable with “by the light of the Moon.”

    If anyone has heard this expression, I’d appreciate understanding its meaning.



  2. herbdoc says:

    I have heard the saying “Cut wood on light nights” but not necessarily in March. Old timers say that timber that is cut on “light nights” will burn hotter. Perhaps March was added so that the wood would have enough time to season. Firewood isn’t totally seasoned until it is gray on the outside and white on the inside which takes more than a year’s time so that wood cut this March probably wouldn’t be ready for use until the winter of 2012.


  3. cjwright says:

    Thanks so much, herbdoc. Just to make sure I understand — “cut wood on light nights” would be the same as the light of the Moon; i.e., while the moon is waxing?


  4. herbdoc says:

    Yes, that’s correct, and most garden chores should also be scheduled for
    “light nights”.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s