Moonbeams or Apps–How Will You Garden This Year?

Life begins the day you start a garden.

 Chinese proverb

Pliny the Elder, a first-century Roman naturalist, was one of the earliest writers to expound on the role of the moon in successful agricultural pursuits. According to him, “The moon replenishes the earth; when she approaches it, she fills all bodies, while when she recedes, she empties them.” (The Old Famer’s Almanac) His view of the influence of the moon is reflected today in the concept of lunar farming.

A variety of cultures across the centuries have watched the moon’s cycles and used that information to inform their view of the natural world and to assist in their planting and harvesting. The early New England colonists adopted the names of the full moon used by local Native Americans.  The names reflect what is happening in nature. March’s Worm Moon” indicates when the earthworms will begin appearing on the surface, while the Sturgeon Moon marks the time when there is the abundance of fish in the lakes, and the Beaver Moon signals the time when the beavers were preparing for winter. (https://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/moon/full-moon-names.html).

January= Wolf Moon

February = Snow Moon

March = Worm Moon

April = Pink Moon

May = Flower Moon

June = Strawberry Moon

July = Buck Moon

August = Sturgeon Moon

September = Harvest Moon

October = Hunter’s Moon

November = Beaver Moon

December = Cold Moon

I’m not sure that I will see any earthworms poking their heads above ground on March 28, the day of the Worm Moon, but one can only hope that temps will have warmed up by then and the snow cover gone. It isn’t prudent to put seedlings out for another two months here in Maine.  Some gardeners would say wait until after the full moon in May (Flower Moon) to avoid the danger of frost. However, avid gardeners are starting their seedlings inside on sunny window sills and under grow lights.  The question is–are they using the phases of the moon to guide their preparations?  

Below are examples of traditional wisdom related to the phases of the moon (The Old Famer’s Almanac).

  • Moonrise in the evening indicates fair weather, while a waning moon rising in the evening signals dry days ahead.
  • The new moon and first quarter (waxing) moon bring fertile and wet conditions.
  • The new and first-quarter moons are good times for planting above-ground crops, putting down sod, grafting trees, and transplanting.
  • The full moon through the last quarter (the dark of the moon) is best for tilling weeds, thinning, pruning, mowing, cutting timber, and planting root vegetables.
  • The full moon is the best time to dig up your horseradish if you want an intense flavor.

Might be interesting to try these strategies and track the results–make your garden a little research station.  Most of us have our phones with us, and so it would be easy to record data.

The Lunar Farming website explains the science behind the traditional wisdom relating to the phases of the moon. Plus they cite studies to back up these ideas:

  • It would appear that the moon has tidal effects on groundwater tables
  • The phases of the moon affect germination rates
  • The moon also affects plant metabolism.

Now’s here’s the hitch–it’s also easy to find studies that state emphatically that there is absolutely no connection between the phases of the moon and bountiful gardens.

What’s a gardener to do? Well…of course, there’s an app for that!  There are a variety of apps that will help you with your planning, planting, fertilizing, and harvesting. One of BoomerTECH Adventures’ favorite strategies for finding the best app on any topic is simply to search “Ten best free apps for …”  When searching for apps and helpful websites on gardening, the following ones popped up on several review sites:

Photo credit: Marcus Spiske on Unsplash

Here are a couple of more apps to check out–look for them in your apps store:

From Seed to Spoon Gardening–information on when to plant, critters to look out for, and so on.

Planter: Garden Plan–plan and manage your gardens.

Veggie List–guidance on what to plan next to each of your crops and other helpful hints.

Seek–plant identification.

It’s probably best if you do your own search for several reasons.  Some apps are not compatible with all phones and others focus on a specific aspect of gardening like plant ID or soil conditions. Hopefully, you’ll find an app or two that meets your specific needs.

Is there a way to combine the ancient gardening wisdom related to the moon and modern technology? Once again, naturally, there’s an app for that!  If this idea appeals to you, check out the Moon & Garden app. If you look at the images below, you’ll see a calendar with specific crop recommendations and a screen to help you keep track of the moon’s phases.

Happy gardening for the coming growing and harvesting seasons, whether you rely on the moon’s guidance, your own experience, or high-tech coaching. I’m wondering if the best approach might be to combine all three strategies. Don’t forget to look for those earthworms on March 28th.

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