The practice of planting according to the phases of the moon has been followed by gardeners for years. Through trial and error, they have developed a schedule for cultivating, planting, weeding and harvesting based on the quarters of the moon. The Old Farmer's Almanac is one of the oldest and most reliable sources for planting information using the phases of the moon.
During the first quarter, also called the new moon, the gravitational pull of the moon on Earth's water is stronger than during any other quarter. Water is drawn close to the surface of the soil where seeds can easily absorb it. The increasing light of the New Moon promotes balanced growth of roots and leaves of plants. Above-ground annual crops that bear seeds outside the fruit--such as broccoli, cauliflower, grains, lettuce and spinach--should be planted during the New Moon.
Strong moonlight during the second quarter encourages vigorous growth of foliage on plants. Beans, peas, peppers, tomatoes, squash, melons and other crops that produce above-ground fruit with seeds should be planted in the second quarter. Soil preparation and turning, as well as chemical fertilizer applications, should also be done during the second quarter.
The gravitational pull is still strong during the third quarter, or the full moon. The extra moisture in the soil and the decreasing light of the waning moon combine to promote active root growth of plants. Perennials, biennials and bulbs should be planted during the Full Moon, in addition to root crops such as beets, carrots, potatoes, onions and peanuts.
The fourth quarter is a time of resting with less gravitational pull and decreasing light. Transplanting, harvesting, pruning and applying organic fertilizers should be done in the fourth quarter. Cultivating and weeding are easier during what is considered a barren time.