Gardening by the Moon: How/What/Why

As a biodynamic gardener, I've been buying moon calendars for a decade now. To start with, it was out of curiosity - the description of all the planetary movements was fascinating, and I wanted to align my planting with a larger ecosystem than what was immediately visible to me. 

It's a nice idea, but in real life I found it challenging. I would hold off on making compost or planting seeds, only to reach the 'perfect' time and find the weather suddenly turned bad: nobody wants to make compost in a thunderstorm, right? 

I attended a gardening workshop where I met some professional market gardeners who dismissed the commercial viability of planting by the moon, saying their method of planting and harvesting like clockwork was effective, and that weather conditions are the only gauge worth watching. That seemed like a ticket to freedom, so I dropped the calendar watching for a couple of years - all except for the occasional biodynamic 500 stir, which is always planned for a descending moon phase. 

What I've noticed over the last couple of years of planting seedings for my Blue Borage work is that there are batches that do significantly better, despite having the exact same treatment.... why is this? I started keeping records of all my seed sowing, marking whether it's an ascending or descending moon, and what constellation the moon is in. I still plant according to the weather, but I now have trays that are 'correct' and trays that are 'less than optimally timed'. 

Air Signs
Water SIgns
(Leafy crops)
Fire Signs
(Fruiting crops)
Earth Signs
(Root crops)

What I'm noticing is that the occasional tray that is incredible in terms of health and growth, with super strong seedlings is often a tray of leafy greens planted on a leaf day, or a tray of root crops planted on a root day. Likewise, there have been trays that have been somewhat disappointing, and when I look closely at the dates, they were not the best timed batch. 

So it's for this reason that I'm now consciously choosing to use the moon calendar more and more - not just with seed planting, but with other gardening tasks as well. 

Would you like to give it a try? 

Calendars I recommend: 

  • The Astro Calendar by Brian Keats, a 30 page booklet with thorough explanation of many principles of biodynamics. It's now in its 33rd year, and a remarkable work of art.
  • The Biodynamic Farming & Gardening Calendar put out by the Biodynamic Association of New Zealand (free for members, or available to purchase separately)
  • For the Maramataka I love the bilingual stationery I get from an inspirational small New Zealand business Tuhi. They send Maramataka resources with each calendar and diary they make. I think they are in the process of developing digital resources as well. Go take a look: Tuhi Stationery.
  • OrganicNZ Magazine now also has a Maramataka planting guide in each issue. This is the magazine published by the Soil & Health Association of New Zealand.   
  • There are probably smartphone apps as well... the only one I use at the moment is called 'Night Sky', so I can point my phone up at the sky at night and identify what I'm seeing. 

An additional resource I recommend if you are interested in watching the effect of the moon on how you feel throughout the course of a month is the Kate Northrup 'Do Less' Planner. She's appeared on a wide range of podcasts, so you can probably find an interview where she talks about her approach to using our energy effectively. I chose the digital version of the planner, and was able to print off just a few of each of the planning pages to try it out. This gave me access to all the tutorial videos, which are lovely just on their own. 

Extra inspiration - eating by the moon at Mirazur restaurant in France

Thank you to Su Hoskin for sharing this article on the Facebook page for the New Zealand Biodynamic Community. The concept fascinates me, that a chef can discern a subtle change in the taste of their menu through the course of the month, and therefore only serve the dishes that best suit the current phase of the moon. 

Read his philosophy here.

Gardening by the moon each weekend

If you are a weekend gardener, you might find a good starting place with moon gardening is to look ahead each weekend and plan some tasks that align with the moon's influence. 

This is something I've been doing for almost a year now, and has become a really good weekly planning session. I carve out time to study the moon calendar, look at all the stuff that has to be done soon in the garden, and then pick out just the tasks that (a) make sense (b) fit the weather forecast and (c) more or less align with the moon. 

I package these up into a regular email to a small group on my database as a prompt to consider what might be the best jobs to tackle in your garden. 

If you'd like to join this list, here's a link to join. Your list each weekend will be specific to your garden, but it's a handy reminder to look up at the moon, and consider what effect it might be having on the people around you: weekend email: gardening by the moon. 


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