NOTE: on my podcast with Prairie Public Radio, I misnamed this "rose" moon. The Strawberry Moon is in June, I believe... and April is traditionally called the "Pink Moon."
My husband harasses me to no end when I tell him that I have to get my radishes planted because it's going to rain. I based that estimation on the fog days in December. Keeping a gardening diary for years, it is so close to that time I can count on it. He, of course, thinks its hogwash.
Before weather and meteorologists, some farmers knew their land like the back of their hand. There were signs everywhere in nature connected to the weather. It is, after all, a weather "pattern." Our "long hot summer" weather pattern may be interrupted with climate change, but there are some things we can count on – like the moon.
There are two ways to look at planting by the moon, according to the Old Farmer's Almanac. You know it has weather predictions based on an ancient (or nearly ancient) formula.
Gardening by the moon uses the moon's cycles. It has more to do with the gravitational pull of the moon, which also affects the tides. Like the oceans rising and falling, the moon pulls the moisture in soil much in the same way. Science says seeds will absorb more water during the full moon and the new moon when moisture draws to the surface.
In case you don't want the moon, the new moon is completely dark – just the opposite of the full bright orb that brightens our life once, or maybe twice in a blue moon, a month.
From Wikipedia: In astronomy, the new moon is the first lunar phase, when the Moon and Sun have the same ecliptic longitude. At this phase, the lunar disk is not visible to the unaided eye, except when silhouetted during a solar eclipse. Daylight outshines the earthlight that dimly illuminates the new moon. The actual phase is usually a skinny crescent. (SOURCE: https://wikimili.com/en/Earthlight_(astronomy))
Have you heard of the old moon in the new moon's arms? A very cool sight to see as the moon begins to wax. You can barely see the outline of the moon, and in the lower right-hand corner, the waxing moon begins to shine, holding the dark moon in its arms.
Oh, back to gardening.
How plants respond to gravity through geotropism can be used to plan your planting. It would explain how plants decide where to grow and what direction to take as they search out things to climb on? And for crying out loud, how do they find something to climb?
Well. Roots grow downward in the direction of the earth's gravitational pull, and stems grow in the opposite direction – upwards.
You can see this happening if you plant a clove of garlic or onion bulb in the wrong direction. It will not grow down; it will take a 90-degree angle upwards in the soil, without fail.
Plants are such complex organisms. I could talk for days. Now, the second school of thought is planting with the zodiac.
I'm not a believer in astrology, really, but I do watch the constellations move around the sky. The concept of the zodiac originated in Babylonian astrology and influenced later by Hellenistic culture. Again, before weather forecasters.
(On a side note, have you have noticed lately the sky seems brighter than usual. Less pollution from less traffic or maybe we are looking through more hopeful eyes in our isolation. At any rate, I'm not the only person noticing it.)
Astrological "best days" to plant are based on the moon's position in the zodiac. The order of the astrological signs is Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces. I am, and proud of it, an Aries.
Here is a chart from the Old Farmers' Almanac outlining the best times to plant-based on where the moon is in the zodiac.
Activity Associated Signs
Plant, Transplant, or Graft Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces, or Taurus
Harvest Aries, Leo, Sagittarius, Gemini, or Aquarius
Build/Fix Fences or Garden Beds Capricorn
Control Insect Pests, Plow, or Weed Aries, Leo, Sagittarius, Gemini, or Aquarius
Prune Aries, Leo, or Sagittarius
So, plant annual flowers and fruits and vegetables that bear crops above ground during the waxing of the moon from the new moon until full. (corn, tomatoes, watermelon, and zucchini). As the moon grows brighter, plants grow leaves and stems. Below-ground crops like onions, carrots and potatoes should be planted as the moon wanes beginning the day after it is full. As the light decreases, plants grow roots and bulbs.
Not a moon gazer by nature? You can find the moon rise and set times https://stardate.org/nightsky/moon has tons of great info and also alerts as to cosmic events you may learn to love.
I also have an app for identifying objects in the night sky called Sky Guide because I love the night sky.
Sue B. Balcom
Writing, or maybe talking, comes naturally to me and under the guidance of a great newspaper editor I have acquired skills that led me to author four books.