How does the Moon influence the plants in the garden? – Lunar cycles

How does the Moon influence plant growth ? What effects does the new moon or the waxing moon have on crops? What is the best moon for sowing, transplanting or pruning plants?

The beliefs that our satellite has an effect on the development of plants are as ancient as they are global. The farmers of the first civilizations of the East and the West already attended lunar rites in agriculture and even today, many farmers plan their cultivation tasks according to the lunar sowing calendar .

Scientists and researchers of the 20th and 21st centuries have shown their interest in the influence of the moon on crops, which has been the subject of several studies and research projects.

Today millions of farmers around the world take into account popular beliefs about the Moon and carry out plantings and other cultivation tasks based on the moon phases . This traditional point of view of ancestral agriculture (also supported by biodynamics and other current agroecological currents ) defends that the influence of the Moon on crops is decisive in their development.

But … What does science say about this star? Is it proven that the Moon influences the growth of plants? Does sowing in one phase or another affect crops differently?

Although science has not been able to demonstrate all the postulates defended by the so-called «sensitive agriculture» about the lunar influence on plants , many of the effects of the moon on the movement of tides and precipitation , plant physiology or animal behavior have been scientifically proven.

In today’s post we make a small summary of what science says about the effects of the moon on crops . We will see what has been scientifically proven about the phases of the moon and their influence on plants, and also what are the practices and cultivation tasks based on lunar cycles , many of them supported by thousands of years of agricultural experience, although still without studies that endorse them.

Lunar cycles: how are the movements of the Moon

Our satellite goes through different cycles, which are independent of each other, depending on the sunlight that reflects the Earth or its position with respect to the Earth and the Sun.

Phases of the Full, Waning, New and Crescent Moon

The synodic or lunation period is a cycle of 29.5 days in which the Moon, seen from Earth, goes through the four defined phases: New Moon, First Quarter, Full Moon and Last Quarter; according to the light (or shadow) it receives depending on its position with respect to the Sun and the Earth.

Moon translation: apogee and perigee

In the cycle called the sidereal or sidereal period , lasting 27.3 days, the Moon makes a complete revolution around the Earth, moving away from or approaching our planet depending on the point of the elliptical orbit where it is.

At apogee the Moon is at the closest point to Earth (about 356,000 km), while at perigee it is at the maximum distance (more than 400,000 km), making it smaller.

Ascending and descending movement of the Moon

The orbit of the Moon and that of planet Earth are not in the same plane. The lunar orbit is oblique, so from the earth’s surface the satellite will not always be seen at the same height above the horizon.

To know if there is an ascending moon or a descending moon, the position of the star must be observed from the same point for two or three nights in a row at the same time. If on the 2nd day of observation the moon appears higher than the previous day and below the position of the third day, we are facing an ascending moon . During the descending moon phase, the opposite occurs, and on consecutive days the moon is seen closer and closer to the horizon .

As we will see in the last section, traditional agricultural practices that follow the lunar calendar consider these cycles to carry out the work. Biodynamic agriculture also takes into account other cycles such as the position of the Moon with respect to the twelve regions of the zodiac or the lunar nodes (when it passes through the plane of the celestial equator).

How the Moon influences plants

One of the main scientific proofs of the influence of the Moon on crops is the relationship between the position of the Moon and the earth’s electromagnetic field, which in turn influences the movement of plant sap and its growth.

Several studies have shown that the gravity or force of attraction of the Moon and the Sun on the surface of the Earth exerts a power of attraction on all the liquids that are on the earth’s surface.

This phenomenon, in addition to the waters of the oceans (which suffer rises and falls) , also influences the rise of the sap that circulates inside the plants, which is greater when the Moon is closer to the earth (perigee) than when it is in the area furthest from the lunar orbit (apogee).

Furthermore, it is known that the movements of the sap are cyclical and that during the phases of the crescent and full moon they are predominantly ascending, while during the phase of the waning and new moon the sap moves further down and is concentrated in the root zone.

In traditional agriculture , the movement and concentration of the sap in one part of the plant or another is taken into account when planning cultivation tasks such as pruning (which must be carried out at «standing sap») or planting and horticultural harvest . In that case, in addition, these tasks would not be carried out at the same time of the lunar cycle if it is about plants from which the aerial part is used (leaves, fruits, inflorescences …) than in the case that the underground part is edible (roots, tubers, bulbs …).

Another example of the lunar influence already demonstrated is the relationship between the different phases and photosynthesis . It is known that, in all plants , photosynthesis is much more intense from the waxing moon to the full moon, where there is the greatest increase in the photosynthetic process; and this phenomenon is scientifically attributed to the increase in moonlight on Earth.

The intensity of the moonlight is precisely another aspect that relates the lunar phases with agriculture. The lunar luminosity can be favorable or unfavorable in the development stages of insects , since there are those that develop totally in the dark and others that are favored by the light of the Moon.

Effects of the crescent moon on crops

During the waxing moon phase the moonlight increases and the plants have balanced foliage and root growth.

In this period there is more movement of water in the soil and the available humidity is higher, so if the sowing is carried out in a crescent moon, the seeds will germinate faster.

How the full moon influences plants

During the full moon phase, the sap is mainly in the aerial part of the plant and it is the moment of greatest internal movement of water and sap, so the plants grow fast. It increases the height of the plant and the growth of the foliage, although the roots and the fruits grow less.

The full moon is said to be the best time to harvest leafy vegetables, work the land, and do transplants. In addition, this is the period with the greatest amount of lunar light, so it is a good time to sow (moonlight, unlike that of the sun, is able to penetrate deeper into the soil, favoring germination).

It is not advisable to prune vegetables at this stage, since they have a lot of water inside and could dehydrate quickly when cut, since the water tends to come out. It is also not convenient to cut the cuttings because the hormones that promote rooting (auxins) are very diluted and this impairs the stimulation of root emission.

How to garden according to the phases of the Moon

In the following table we see a summary with the main tasks of the garden (sowing, grafting, fertilizing, harvesting or harvesting …) depending on the phases of the Moon and the type of crop.

Moon phase Cultivation work
Crescent quarter Sowing of leafy and fruit vegetables, flowers …
Application of fertilizers and fertilizers
full moon Planting of perennials
Transplantation and vegetative propagation (cuttings, etc.)
Harvesting of leaf and fruit horticultural crops
Last quarter Sowing of tubers and roots
Elimination of weeds, withered leaves …
Collection of fruits to obtain seeds
New Moon Harvesting of tubers and roots
Elimination of weeds, wilted leaves …
Rising moon Harvesting vegetables that grow on the ground
Descending moon Harvesting underground vegetables
Planting cuttings

What is the best moon to sow?

For garden crops where the crop grows above the ground, traditional practices recommend sowing in the waxing moon phase . The phase from the new moon to the first quarter is suitable for sowing leafy vegetables (spinach, parsley …) and cereals or grains, while in the phase from the first quarter to the full moon it is better to sow fruit vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, cucurbits such as melon or cucumber) as well as beans, peas and other legumes.

In crops that grow underground (potatoes, carrot, onion, garlic, radish, sweet potato, ginger …) the best moon to sow is the new moon or the waning phase .

The plants that we grow for their inflorescences or seeds (such as cauliflower, broccoli or cereals such as corn), as well as those that are at risk of spilling (such as lettuce) are better to be sown also during the last quarter phase.

In addition, considering another of the cycles of the moon that influence crops , that of lunar translation and its position at the apogee and perigee , several authors affirm that when the moon is closest to the Earth (at perigee) the Seed germination is weaker, so sowing at this stage is not recommended.

Ultimately, it is undeniable that the Moon influences crops and there is probably a lot of truth in the lunar sowing calendars. Although there is already some scientific evidence, there is still much to know about our satellite and its effects on Earth, so it is essential to start more research projects that try to clarify what is true in this ancestral knowledge.

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