Why Do We Garden By The Moon?
Gardening according to the phases of the Moon is a practice that has been around for as long as humans have been growing their own food. But what is it, exactly? Find out!
Gardening by the Moon, or more specifically, according to the phases of the Moon, is an idea that has been around for as long as humans have been growing their own food. It’s becoming more and more in vogue, cropping up (no pun intended) in books, blogs, and other educational materials coming out of the permaculture movement, “a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature.”
The Gardening By The Moon Philosophy
Here at the Farmers’ Almanac, though, gardening by the Moon has always been our philosophy, and our editions include a calendar of the best days for sowing, planting, weeding, and other garden chores, as determined by the phase and position of the Moon. Our readers have long sworn by this method of managing their gardens and crops.
But how could a chunk of rock more than 200,000 miles away affect how plants on Earth grow?
Those who swear by this ancient growing method say the water in both the ground and in plants are affected by the gravitational pull of the Sun and Moon, just like ocean tides are. Just as the tides are highest during the new and full phases of the Moon, this theory holds, seeds, too, will absorb the most water during these times.
How Moon Phases Affect Plant Growth
Though the practice is as old as agriculture itself, planting by the Moon is a complex art. Here’s a look at how Moon phases are believed to affect plant growth:
Over the course of a 29½ –day lunar cycle, the Moon goes through four basic phases, new, full, and two quarter phases—first and last. For half of its cycle, between the new and full phases, the Moon is waxing (growing in illumination). Then, after the full Moon, it begins to wane (decreasing in illumination).
Check out our Moon Phase calendar.
All aboveground crops should be planted when the Moon is waxing. During the new Moon is the best time to sow or transplant leafy annuals such as lettuce, spinach, cabbage, and celery, while the first quarter phase is good for fruits and foods with external seeds.
Below-Ground (Root) Crops
Root crops do best when the Moon is waning. When the Moon is just past full, it’s a good time to plant root crops like potatoes, beets, and turnips, and fruit trees. During the last quarter phase, it’s best to avoid planting at all. Work instead on improving soil, weeding, mulching, composting, etc.
But knowing the phase of the Moon isn’t enough. Planting by the Moon also requires knowledge of the Moon’s place in the zodiac, based on ancient lore that each sign confers certain growing conditions.
For instance, water and earth signs—Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces, Taurus, and Capricorn—are said to bring moist, fertile conditions, whereas most air and fire signs—Gemini, Aquarius, Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius—are said to be barren. There are some exceptions to that rule, though. The earth sign Virgo is barren, and the air sign Libra is said to be a relatively fertile sign.
Some signs are also believed to benefit specific types of plants. For example, Taurus is said to favor leafy greens, while corn does best under the influence of Libra.
Consult Our Daily Planners Online
Can’t keep track of all these variables? Not to worry. The Farmers’ Almanac has got you covered! Just consult these handy guides before you take your trowel to the soil.
Visit our online planners:
Jaime McLeod is a longtime journalist who has written for a wide variety of newspapers, magazines, and websites, including MTV.com. She enjoys the outdoors, growing and eating organic food, and is interested in all aspects of natural wellness.
Hey there last year something destroyed my lawn grubs maybe but I want to work to rebuild my lawn but I’m not sure what category grass seeding falls under to follow??
Wouldn’t that fall into the category of leafy green plants? Just spit balling here….
Does gardening by the moon also apply to raised garden beds?
Yes, it would be the same. Good gardening to you!
Too bad the ‘best planting/transplanting’ days also seem most likely to be the best days for 3 days of steady rain…
How do time zones play into your gardening calendar. What time zone is your calendar based on?
Does the planting by the moon also influence flower bulbs in pots
Hi B. spitzfaden, yes! All living things are assumed to be influenced by the Moon’s gravitational pull.
Looking forward for good gardening council
We’re here to help, Neil.Corry!
Hello, what kind of help you can give me? I am in srilanka. Organic farmer want to try banana 150mt away from the beach.
My Mom grows bananas in the FL keys, where al the land is less than 1/2 mi from shore! Sounds great, and Good luck!
I don’t see any information given by your calendar on when to harvest above ground and below ground plants? I have seen other Gardening by the Moon calendars that show best harvest times, so I am curious why that has been left out of your calendar..??
Hi Paul, the harvesting information is in our Best Days section on the website. The dates in July were 1,2, 5-7, but going forward, you can take a look here: https://www.farmersalmanac.com/best-days/harvest This information also appears on pages 120-121 of the 2021 Farmers’ Almanac. We have made the change in 2022 so Best Days to Harvest appears with all the Gardening by the Moon information. I hope that was helpful.
What about at night on the last day of a phase? Some times I Like to garden late at night, early morning, before the sun comes up. So if it is midnight on a day that starts a barren period, after the last night of good planting period, which instructions would I be following?
Hi Lacey, you could certainly do whatever works for you. We would recommend going with the recommendations for that day. Have you been faced with this situation? I can’t imagine it would happen often.
My parents used to have a good size garden when I was a child. I recall they did have a Farmer’s almanac, so I think Dad might have followed it when planting as my Mom canned & froze so much it got us through the winter with fresh corn on the cob & fresh garden peas from the freezer, as well as frozen berries as they had blackberry & red raspberry bushes. I agree there is something to the time of the month when certain vegetables should be planted. It’s a great way to be physically active, show children where their food comes from on a smaller scale, helps cut costs of grocery bil, & is better for the environment when composting. While it takes a lot of work to start & maintain it, working parents may not have the time & energy to maintain a garden after work. Kids activities & other family commitments, parents having jobs, etc., doesnt leave much time left in the day. We live in such a different world than our parents, grandparents, etc., but even a small garden with the vegetables for salads would be a great option.
Mikki, you said it beautifully!
Container gardening’s gaining in popularity too. Even in hi-rises, with a small patio, a salad garden’s ez to maintain. Herbs on a windowsill, etc.
can you supply an almanac for the southern hemisphere I live in QLD Australia and I would like to plant by the moon
Very helpful and VERY TRUE !
Tried and achieved great success……
When is the best time to harvest sugar beets by the moon phase?
What about taking succulent cuttings that have to be planted in dirt. When should they be planted?
I also would like to know
Hi, I appreciate this article and I want to plant by the moon but the author wrote:
“Water and earth signs—Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces, Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn—are said to bring moist, fertile conditions, whereas most air and fire signs—Gemini, Aquarius, Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius—are said to be barren. There are some exceptions to that rule, though. The air sign Libra, for instance, is said to be a relatively fertile sign.”
Then why on the other page of this farmers almanac website does the dates given say for Scorpio, for example, that “Seeds planted now will do poor or yield little” or “Neither plant nor sow on these barren days”. It says similar things for Cancer, Pisces and Taurus.
And vice versa. For example, the above article/quote says that the moon in the sign of Gemini, for example, is said to be a barren time. Yet on the same page of this same farmers almanac.com website, the page containing the moon calendar always says things like “Most favorable “ for planting…( so many kinds of crops )when the moon is in Gemini.
I know because I use an ephemeris to check what days the moon is transiting Gemini, etc.
I don’t mean to find fault, just looking for an answer so I may understand in order to use the moon signs properly.
Has anyone else noticed this discrepancy?
Thank you for your time.
Hi Nancy, I took a look at our Gardening by the Moon calendar and compared it with our Moon’s Place in the Zodiac chart on page 129 of the Farmers’ Almanac (and also available here at our Zodiac Calendar but you won’t see past dates).
The dates you mention, for example, April 10, 11, we say “Neither plant nor sow during this barren time.” The Moon, according to our chart, is in Sagittarius on those dates, which is a barren time.
On April 22-24, our Gardening calendar says these dates are “favorable for planting beans, corn, cotton, tomatoes, peppers, and other aboveground crops” because a) the moon is waxing, and b) in Taurus, which is a fertile time.
So I wonder if it’s about your source for the Moon in the zodiac. Our table coincides with our formula so this is the basis for our Gardening by the Moon calendar. Thanks for writing and we hope this clears up the discrepancy.
Susan, thanks for clearing that up! I always use a sidereal ephemeris. For example, the link you thoughtfully sent says today the moon is in the sign of Sagittarius whereas in the sidereal calculation the moon is still in Scorpio sign. And I must say I just started following moon signs for planting etc this year and it’s been the most prolific production ever!
Hi Nancy! Maybe considering the time differentiations according to the time zones, would solve this problem. As i know, all the ephimeris data refer to the Greenwich time zone. So you need to calculate the move of the planet’s accordingly.
Does the variance have to do with changing the algorithm to use the the weather forecasting predictions as well?
My Dad always planted by the moon phase’s, and always did well. I plant when weather permitting, it has been such a cool wet spring, all I can do just to keep the grass mowed.
I love your website and daily emails but the pop up ads are about to make me stop using it. Very frustrating.
Hi Beverly, thank you for your feedback. Ads, unfortunately, are necessary for us as a small business to help pay the bills as we offer our information for free. Hopefully, you will stay with us!
Does the moon have signs for better sleep??
Change your location (3D=xyz also includes height=altitude)
& the results will also become (a bit) different.
Different weather, affects the crops.
You can try growing inside (a greenhouse) instead,
but please expect changes=differences,
because the almanac(‘s advice) was written for (outdoor) farmers
& all their problems.
Indoors is a different moderated climate,
with fewer & often more different pests,
e.g. molds & bacteria monocultures.
Inside is a whole different ballgame.
E.g. Whether you are using glass or (non_UV light absorbing) plexiglas
to allow increasing plant (energy & thus) health.
Transplanting times (for sprouts from inside to outdoors) is also another (new) ballgame
for it’s rules,
due to it’s (humidity, pests, light, etc) conditions.
Maybe in the future
someone will have enough experience (data, statistics)
to make some helpful suggestions=recommendations,
in a book.
Different moon calendars say different things
due to the author’s location (timing, hour)
Your position with respect to the universe (siderial).
So it’s a bit complicated,
& needs to be fine tuned
E.g. Temperature when, insects (pollination versus pests), humidity water.
The final result, is a simple (general tendancy) decision: yes or no,
preferred for whatever.
The statistics are: either better or worse, for whatever detail.
Often general tendencies can be determined.
That’s what it’s all about: “arrow_scope” (“horoscope”,
[#h], o->a, r->rr, written characters increased, & vowel’s (writing) shifted, with (increased?) intelligence (more detail).)
=The general tendency “direction”, good or bad.
You might think of it easiest, as a weather report & its consequences.
=How the environment & its beings respond under all those conditions.
Science is knowing ((reproducible) facts), everything else is guessing & belief (=assumptions).
Would the growing by the moon also work for plants that will be grown indoors in a tent under artificial lighting. Thanks in advance.
Thank u so much for this article and the comments from people helping giving information much appreciated
You’re welcome, Jason! Glad you found it so informational.
I know planting by the signs works! My Daddy, wish he was still here, always planted by the signs on about a half acre. We had so much excess, he had me carrying grocery bags full to all our neighbors, my Mother canned, and we still had more than we could eat. I miss his tomatoes! Once, I asked him why he planted by the signs, probably around 7 or 8 years old. He told me he wouldn’t the next season so I would know. When he did not plant by the signs that one year, the garden did not produce half as much. Luckily Mother had canned so much the year before we didn’t suffer!
I’m tired of paying for stuff that doesn’t even taste like it’s supposed to at the grocery store. I’m going to plant tomatoes and a few other things this year. I didn’t realize the zodiac was involved too. I’ve learned a lot from this site. Thank you, and wish me luck!
After married and starting a family life, my first gardening “solo” my Dad happened by just as I had finished planting some pole green beans, asked “what are you planting”? after telling him, he said “Humm, Sis, wrong time, they will bloom their selves to death” (the moon was in the heart) …..Well THEY DID…flowers on the ground looked like a big snow fall, off of two long rows I barely got a bushel of beans….That made a believer out of me…IT WORKS
why is there a comment section
Indians believe everything is controlled by the moon. Having surgery in a waxing moon will take longer to heal, most people tends to get angry faster around full moon. Dig a hole at new moon and try filling it back, there is not enough soil but at full moon there is a little excess. All proven.
We are living in Tanzania now, having moved from the UK. We keep chickens for meat and eggs,
3 Years ago I started to keep a daily graph of how many eggs our ladies produced, to 0ur surprise we found that on the last quarter of the moon production dropped then picked up again he the next day. We would be interested if any other members have experienced this behavior??? Many thanks for the emails, always find them fascinating and instructive, keep up the good work. Asante Sana
Many thanks for producing the Almanac, I have found it Very interesting and helpful,
Born in the UK now living in Tanzania and I keep chickens here for meat and eggs, For 3 or more years I’ve kept a daily graph of how many eggs my ladies produce, and found on the last quarter of the Moon the production drops 99% of the time, if it does drop, it is just the day before or day after, Probably due to the Moon timing and Cycle!!!! There’s food for thought. Anyone else experienced this ????
Thanks again for the Almanac.
My Moon calendar has Virgo as an infertile time to plant, more for pulling weeds, pruning or harvesting herbs — “dry” tasks requiring a judicious precision. I have always thought it was the Earth exception that balanced the Libra exception among the Air signs. A further detail about the Libra exception was that because Libra is ruled by Venus, like Taurus only in a less substantive, more ethereal plane, it was the best time for planting flowers or ornamental vines, plants that look pretty. I plant by the Moon, for both indoor and outdoor plants and my garden and plants do very well. It may be they just thrive with focused attention and all these details draw that out.
The Chinese have done this for centuries. They know what time of day to plant certain herbs (food) and what time to harvest. They know how long it takes for an herb to reach maturity and then harvest on that day. Some herbs are planted at 6:00 a.m. while others are planted at midnight. Some are harvested in the morning and some in the middle of the night. They do this so that they get the maximum amount of nourishment from the herb. Most bananas we eat are picked several weeks before they are ripe which means you are not getting very much nourishment. Most of the really good nutrients in a banana do not appear until the last 4-5 days before harvest. So when you buy a banana in the store that is still green or barely yellow just realize that you are not getting very much nourishment from that banana.
My dad always planted by the moon. We always had a great garden with plenty of veggies to eat! I miss him so much!
I grew up on a farm & not only planting but many other chores were done according to the moon. Dehorning cattle, castrating hogs, butchering, & many other things. Cutting hair & weaning everything from baby animals to human babies as well.
This may not be quite obvious to some, but PLEASE inform your readers that ‘gardening by the moon’ does NOT mean planting at night. ;D
Here’s the one thing I don’t get about moon Phase/Zodiac planting. I get that the moon affects the tides and storms, so it makes sense that the water in your garden in in each plant and EVEN INSIDE YOUR BODY. But in the Zodiac cycle, the power of the signs alternates in a set pattern. Fire, Earth, Air, Water… ALso, each sign is only 75 hours duration and is changed by the following sign. So, if I seed a root that germinates in 14 days as carrots do, then setting them out in Gemini so they GERMINATE in Earth sign Virgo makes more sense.
I still live by the Almanac, but if you want an Aries child, you better romance their mother between Flag Day and the 4th of July. LOL
I started planting by the moon last season and had the best crop ever. My bell peppers grew bigger than ever before. Bush beans came in great!!, egg plant and yellow squash were the best ever too!! Even my pot plants grew good with some nice seedless buds.
*Anyone who, not whom. Autocorrect was trying to be smarter than me again.
For anyone whom thinks it is odd that the zodiac is involved, check out some history, way back when, astronomy astrology were pretty much one and the same. Additionally, I always figured if the moon can move oceans, what else might it affect? The earth, the human body, etc. It’s simply science and nature working in perfect harmony!
The moon is the “pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night” that the lord manifested himself as, even unto this day and night.
The moon is man that’s why we garden by it. That’s according to the biblical scriptures…
Dr. Oz’s doctor, Rebecca Kurth, issued a warning.
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I grew up in lower MI where the ground is excellent for farming. However my father was about to plant acres of seeds (not sure which ones) navy or soy beans or wheat. At that time the grains were stored in our barns. A triangle of farmers homes were close, they watched the # of bushel’s were taken to their barns..Not my parents but we found the neighbor lady did. Her husband asked my father how he got such a bountiful crop. My father said,” well I listened to my wife she told me to wait one day as the moon sign will be better, so I did. But, he said, I told her I was planting the seed in the ground not the moon.
Needless to say my father counted too, comparing to other years the yield of bushels to the acre and it was much higher. Our neighbors started calling my mother to find out when was the best time to plant and they too enjoyed a higher yield.
Needless to say, I am on this website to check the moon sign to start my seeds! Generations have found it works. I believe!
Thanks for the article today on the website April 10th, helps me to understand more about it.
I start my seedlings in my greenhouse on by the moon then transplant by the moon also. I don’t want to take any chances. Too much time,money and effort to mess up!
My grandfather, who was from the western part of North Carolina and born in 1900 farmed by the moon. He told me he even butched under a particular lunar phase as their was less bleeding. My grandfather always had a Farmers Almanac calendar hanging up in the kitchen. My grandma used it for best days to go fishing. That’s no fish story.
My Father use to always plant his garden by the moon. As a child we had some of the best vegetables you could ever ask for. My Father also tended to the farm animals by the moon. I can also remember he would check the farmers almanac before he would dig holes too put in fence post. There wasn’t much my father did on the farm before he checked the farmers almanac. Now I buy one every year and I also have it downloaded on my phone my tablet and my laptop. Thank you all for doing such a wonderful job at setting up and putting together the farmers almanac each year.
to Cathy Thomas,don’t believe in using the zodiac signs??? try canning your veggies when the sign are in the lower half,say like in the bowels or lower and you’ll be a believer then.
I’m not knocking you at all,but this was proven to me as a child when we had to can to have food for winter.
Ok so what happens?
The almanac was my grannies bible. She always planted by the moon and weaned her cows etc. She always had the best gardens
After 50 years of planting by the moon I wonder if the same applies to nurseries that start their seeds indoors. Does it matter if I start seeds inside on barren days then transplant them outside when the moon is in the right sign?
You lost me when you started talking about planting by the zodiac. Seriously?