Moon Gardening – Myth or Fact?

A book written by an old and experienced English gardener – RJ Harris – about gardening by the moon phases is in vogue among horticulture enthusiasts. In its work, the head gardener of a private property in Cornwall, says gardening by lunar cycles is the oldest form of gardening known to humans.

Specifically, Harris has gardened since the ’50s just guided only by the phases of the moon, a practice learned from his father and grandfather and which originates, he says, in ancient times when people measured time by looking at the moon. But how can the moon influence the harvest?

The explanation is given by the old gardener: the moon controls not only the ocean tides, but also the flow of water in the soil. Specifically, he argues, when the moon is waxing or growing to the phase of full moon, there should be more water near the surface of the soil and sap in plants is drawn up, so seeds and plants sown during this time grow more vigorously.  Moreover, it is recommended you should fertilize and graft fruit trees during the waxing phases.

On the other hand, when the moon is waning, decreasing to the phase of new moon, there should be less water near the surface and sap in plants is drawn down, so root crops fare better and soil is easier to till or turn over.  During this phase you are also supposed to prune shrubs and mow your lawn. Since there is less moisture, there should be less growth on the pruned shrubs and your lawn grows back slower.

Harris says he did some experiments himself which showed potatoes planted in the growing phase of the moon grew better than those planted in the decreasing phase. The crop was also more abundant in the correct phase of the moon.

There is no scientific study confirming or invalidating Harris’ conclusions about the moon or lunar gardening. In 1995, researchers at the Agricultural Research Service’s National Soil Tilth Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, did research that showed weed seeds brought to the surface of the ground germinate slower in the total darkness such as what is seen during the new moon.  However, they did observe that any light source, not just the moon, will cause these seeds to germinate, according to

Harris says that, after his book was published, a lot of gardeners from across the world have written him confirming that observing the moon cycles does help in the garden. The Internet is also sprouting with websites dedicated to moon gardening.

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