Part 3: Farming, Gardening, and the Zodiac
It may be surprising to many to find out that centuries-old folklore about conducting agricultural activities according to the phases of the moon has an actual scientific basis. It may surprise even more to learn that timing planting, gardening, or farming based on both the astronomical and astrological positions of the moon in relation to the signs of the Zodiac has also been proven by researchers to have powerful effects on crop yields and quality. There are essentially two types of lunar planting – one depends on the moon’s relation to a particular house or sign of the Zodiac (astrological planting), the other on the actual constellations of stars through which the moon passes on a given day (biodynamic planting).
Biodynamic planting calendars were developed based on the physical position of the moon in front of the twelve constellations representing the signs of the Zodiac (as viewed from Earth). The constellations are categorized by type of sign: fire, water, earth, and air. Each of these elements correspond to a particular, desirable part of a plant. According to biodynamic principles, fruit crops grow best when sowed during fire signs (Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius). Leafy plants do best when the moon is in front of water sign constellations (Cancer, Pisces, and Scorpio). Root crops, as you might expect, prefer earth signs (Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn). Air signs (Aquarius, Gemini, and Libra) are generally thought to be dry and barren, although flowers are said to be associated with these signs, especially that of Libra.The moon moves through a different constellation every few days. To be more exact, the moon moves through fire, water, earth, and air signs every nine days, or three times per lunar cycle. On the biodynamic planting calendar, these days are known as fruit, leaf, root, and flower days, respectively.
Closely related to biodynamic planting, astrological planting depends on when the moon is in certain houses of the Zodiac according to the astrological calendar. Generally, seeds should be sown on days when the moon is in a water sign, but different types of plants do well if planted when the moon is in their associated signs. The plant types and signs are the same as in biodynamic planting: leafy plants prefer water signs, root plants earth signs, flowering plants air signs, and fruiting plants do best when the moon is in fire signs. Here are the specific recommendations for each sign of the Zodiac:
Fire Signs – Aries, Leo, Sagittarius: usually barren and dry, but good for seed crops. Also a good time to harvest, weed, destroy pests, and cultivate to prevent the sprouting of seeds. When the moon is in Sagittarius is a good time to plant onion sets and fruit trees and to cultivate the soil. Good baking days are when the moon is in Aries.
Water Signs – Cancer, Pisces, and Scorpio: Leafy annual plants that grow above ground do best if planted when the moon is in a water sign. Cancer is thought to be the best sign for planting and transplanting of all types, and also a good time for grafting and irrigation. Second best is when the moon is in Pisces, said to be very good for root growth and also a good time to irrigate. Scorpio is good for pruning, planting hardy plants and vines, transplanting tomatoes, and planting corn and squash. Good baking days are when the moon is in Cancer. Fruits and vegetables canned or preserved during water signs will stay fresher and last longer. For abundant blooms, plant flowers in Cancer or Pisces.
Earth Signs – Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn: Best for planting root crops or when root development is desired, as in transplanting. Potatoes, cabbage, spinach, and lettuce do well when the moon is in this sign. Good baking days are when the moon is in Capricorn.
Air Signs – Aquarius, Gemini, and Libra: Flowering plants prefer to be planted when the moon is in an air sign, especially Libra. Melons do well in Gemini, onions in Aquarius. Libra is the best time to plant fragrant flowers and aromatic herbs. Air signs are also barren and dry, and a good time to weed, harvest, and cultivate. Good baking days are when the moon is in Libra. For showy and fragrant flowers, plant between the first quarter and the full Moon in Libra.
Are these and other lunar planting and harvesting rituals just superstition? Not in the least. While some beliefs about the moon’s effects on man and earth are pure nonsense, others have been proven in rigorous scientific studies and informal trials alike. The moon’s influence on the Earth’s water, from ocean tides to the internal fluid systems of individual plants, has been well documented. We know this is due to gravity’s physical force. What we don’t know is how the moon’s astrological or astronomical position can affect specific plants in different ways, or change the outcome of farming or gardening activities like pruning, planting, harvesting, and so on. We just know that it does.
Despite the amazing technological and scientific advances achieved by man over the last 200 years or so, we can only prove that the moon does have profound effects on farm and garden crops. We are still largely unable to prove the processes and mechanisms that account for these effects. In the end however, “why” doesn’t really matter for those who want to increase crop and plant production. Farmers and gardeners have sworn by lunar planting methods for centuries – simply because it works.