People have used moon phases to guide planting throughout cultivation history. It was, and remains, a common practice in many different cultures, from the ancient Romans to modern Americans. The purpose of moon phase planting is to improve plant growth and increase production and vitality. The theory behind the method relates to the moon's gravitational pull on the earth. Because plants are largely made of water and the soil contains water, the pull of the moon works on them as on the tides.
For approximately seven days, the new moon reigns. The moon is not visible and then slowly becomes illuminated. People consider this the best phase for seed planting because the moon pulls water up into the top layers of soil, creating quicker germination. You can choose any seeds, but the theory is that annuals perform best in the new moon. For vegetable gardening, you can plant annuals that produce their seeds on the outside of the fruit, such as lettuce.
The waxing phase of the moon refers to the week between the new moon and the full moon. The light reflected increases during this phase. Some gardeners believe that planting during the waxing phase gives improved leaf growth. The waxing phase is good for above-ground produce and annuals that have seeds inside the fruit, like tomatoes and beans. You can plant transplants or seeds during this phase.
The third phase, the full moon, includes the brightest illumination and then begins to decrease. The gravitational pull remains high, keeping moisture available to plants in the soil. The theory of moon planting says that the energy is in the roots during this time. You can plant perennials, bulbs and root crops, such as potatoes, during the week of the full moon. You should stop planting before the changeover to the next phase, however.
During the waning phase, the moon reflects less of the light from the sun as the earth travels between them. The gravitational pull decreases. This phase signifies rest and you should avoid planting. You can do garden maintenance, transplant and harvest during the waning moon. In fact, many gardeners believe that harvesting during the waning phase aids in keeping the produce from spoiling or rotting.