How to Plant Seeds by the Moon

Overview

Lunar gardening, the custom of using the phases of the moon to determine when to plant seeds, is a popular but fairly unsubstantiated practice. Proponents of the method---which is also touted in the annual Old Farmer's Almanac---claim that the gravitational pull of the moon on the Earth affects how certain types of plants develop, depending on the lunar phase. According to the practice, root crops should be planted during a waning moon, when gravitational forces are at their weakest, and aboveground crops should be planted during waxing moon phases.

Determine What to Plant and When

Step 1

Organize the seeds for planting to determine the order in which they should be planted, beginning with the earliest spring vegetables like peas and radishes then progressing to warm-weather crops like zucchini, corn and beans.

Step 2

Look at a calendar to determine the current lunar phase. A new moon marks the beginning of a two-week waxing moon phase, while a full moon marks the beginning of a waning moon phase.

Step 3

Reorganize each of the seed groups within each season to align with a favorable planting interval. Plan to plant aboveground crops (peas, Swiss chard, spinach) when the moon is waxing and belowground crops (beets, radishes, carrots, parsnips) when the moon is waning toward new.

Step 4

Mark on the calendar the type of crop to be planted during each lunar phase. This also eases calculation of when crops should be ready for harvest.

Planting the Seeds

Step 1

Prepare to plant during each designated lunar phase by marking out straight rows in the garden, using a garden hoe or yardstick to make a shallow furrow in the dirt.

Step 2

Set seeds into the furrow, ensuring that they are spaced at the appropriate distance for each type of crop.

Step 3

Cover the seed lightly with dirt and water lightly but thoroughly; a heavy flow of water can wash away or dislodge newly planted seeds.

Tips and Warnings

  • Be aware of the generalized ideal planting time for each type of crop. For instance, peas planted too late will fail to mature properly in hot weather, regardless of the moon phase under which they were planted. Similarly, crops like tomatoes need to be started indoors well ahead of the time they must go into the ground, as many North American growing seasons are too short for plants started from seed to produce fruit before the first killing frosts of fall.

Things You'll Need

  • Plant seed
  • Calendar with lunar phases
  • Garden hoe or yardstick

References

  • Cornell Astronomy: Does Lunar Gardening Really Work?
  • University of Illinois: Plant Your Vegetables Right
  • Old Farmer's Almanac: Best Planting Dates

Who Can Help

  • Ohio State University: Planting by the Signs
  • Gardening by the Moon
Keywords: planting by moon, lunar seed planting, gardening by moon

About this Author

Michelle Z. Donahue lives in Washington, D.C., and has worked there as a journalist since 2001, when she graduated from Vanderbilt University with a B.A. in English. She first covered politics as a reporter for the weekly Fairfax Times newspaper, then for the daily newswire Canadian Economic Press, where she reported from the U.S. Treasury. Donahue is currently a freelance writer.