Wherever You Are, You’re in a Watershed


The term “watershed” is commonly used to describe areas of land associated with water features, such as lakes or rivers. Misuse of the term is also quite common, leaving many with an unclear idea of what a watershed is or isn’t. Strictly speaking, a watershed is an area of land where all the water that falls as precipitation (rain, snow, sleet, hail)  flows to a common outlet; it is the land area that is drained by a body of intermittently or continually flowing water. The names used for these bodies of flowing water depend not only on its size and physical characteristics, but also on regional customs and cultural differences. Common names include brook, stream, creek, river, gulch, wash, draw, slough, rigolet, gully, ravine, arroyo, and fork; all refer to roughly the same thing. “Watershed” as used here refers to surface watersheds rather than ground watersheds. Underground watersheds (aquifers) behave differently and are less understood than those on the surface, even though the two types are connected through the process of infiltration (percolation).

Watersheds, also known as “catchments”, “basins”, or “drainage basins”, are generally defined by their topography. Consider a high mountain peak, with melting snow flowing down its east and west flanks. Water flowing down the east face enters one watershed, while the water flowing down the west face enters another distinct watershed. Picture a mountain range opposite the peak, with a river valley between. Both the peak and the ridge on the opposite side of the valley drain to the river below, and so constitute major catchment boundaries or divisions. Major drainage basins are generally composed of the faces of opposing peaks and mountain ranges, as well as the valleys into which they drain.

A single watershed can cover millions of square miles, or it may be smaller than an acre. Smaller divisional lines and topographical boundaries (such as hills and small ridges) define smaller basins within larger ones. These lesser units are referred to as subwatersheds. In order to be classified as such, each subwatershed must drain into a common larger watershed. In addition to topographical barriers, different watersheds are characterized by different types of vegetation, soils, and climate. Although adjacent watersheds are usually much more similar than they are different from one another, no two watersheds are ever exactly alike.

So what’s in a watershed? The short answer is “Everything!” Every portion of the earth’s land surface lies within at least one watershed. Trees and other plants, mountains, wildlife, roads, lakes, rivers, all our cities and buildings, all our farms – all these things and more are located in watersheds. Even someone who lives in the middle of the desert, hundreds of miles from the nearest stream, lives in a watershed. While it may not be obvious, actions taken by this desert-dweller can affect other people who live downstream in the basin – even if there is no body of continually flowing water nearby. It’s important to be cautious about what chemicals are applied to the earth, and what substances are allowed to soak into it, because they almost always end up in the groundwater. More people around the world depend on groundwater for their fresh water supplies than on any other source.

Watersheds are invaluable and irreplaceable. They collect and provide fresh water, and they store fresh water for future use. Watersheds filter pollutants and contaminants from water, while providing habitat for all the living things in terrestrial ecosystems – which includes humans. Take a moment to contemplate the wonder and necessity of our watersheds, and perhaps to assess what impacts your everyday actions might have on watershed health including changes, if any, you might make. After all – wherever you are, you’re in a watershed.

Should You Have a Survey Done When Buying Land?


If You’re Buying a Parcel of Land, You Need to Have it Surveyed First. Here are some tips:

Land Survey
Q: Why is it important for a property to have a survey, and what should the survey show?
A: Without a proper survey, a prospective buyer has no way of knowing if the parcel is the size the seller is claiming it is. The property corners or boundaries should be clearly marked during a survey, so that the buyer can actually see the physical extent of the property.

A survey should also show any encroachments and easements that exist on the property, which prospective buyers should be aware of in order to make an informed decision about purchasing the property. Before you pay for a survey, check to see if a survey for that property has already been legally recorded. If a new survey has to be completed, make sure it is recorded whether it was paid for by you or by the seller.

Q: What are encroachments and easements?
A: An encroachment is an unauthorized invasion or intrusion onto property owned by another or onto a public street. Encroachments typically reduce the size and value of the invaded property. Examples of encroachments include improperly located private roads and driveways, or structures such as buildings, walls, or fences.
An easement is an interest in land owned by another entitling the holder of the interest to limited use or enjoyment of a portion of that land. Common types of easements include rights of way for the installation of utilities or for roads that provide access to other lots or parcels.

Q: Is it necessary to have the survey recorded?
A: Yes. Legal recording is a process by which written instruments affecting the title to real property are entered into a book of public records. Documents that are typically recorded include deeds, mortgages, sales contracts, options, assignments, surveys, plats, and so on. Legally recorded documents provide proper public notice of the existence of such documents and their contents. Recording is usually done by a county or parish recorder’s office, but in some areas may be done by a city, county, or parish clerk, auditor, or other such office.

A survey contains a legal description of the land. It also provides notice of the location of property boundaries, easements, and encroachments. Ensuring that the survey is recorded offers some protection against fraudulent claims or illegal intrusions made against the property or its title at a later time.

Q: Are there any situations where a survey is not legally necessary?
A: Possibly. If a parcel lies within a platted town, section, or subdivision, it is usually not necessary to have a recorded survey. A plat is a recorded map showing boundaries of individual properties within a development. A plat also shows the locations of streets, alleys, and public areas. The county or parish government where such properties are located can tell you if a property is platted or not. However, encroachments are still possible even in platted subdivisions, so a survey is almost always a good idea. If you buy a fenced urban lot and are happy with its actual (as opposed to legal) dimensions, then you probably do not need a survey of the property.

Obviously each situation is different, and there may be some cases where a platted property needs to be surveyed. For instance, if walls, roofs, or other structures appear to be encroaching onto the parcel, you would be wise to have a survey done or ask the seller to do so. A survey is also recommended if the property boundary markers are obscured by structures, vegetation, or time, and you are concerned about getting all the real property for which you are paying.

Problems with previous surveys would also warrant having a platted property resurveyed. In rare cases, bad surveys have been recorded on plat maps for entire subdivisions.

Q: How can I make sure my surveyor does an accurate job?
Surveyors, like all of us, occasionally make mistakes. The surveyor you choose should be licensed, bonded, and insured. He or she should also be able to provide references from former clients. It’s also a good idea to try to find out what his or her track record with previous surveys has been, if you can.

Property Access
Q: If there is a roadway accessing the parcel I want to buy, will I always be able to access my property via that road?
A: Not necessarily. The issue of access, especially to parcels of land outside of platted towns or subdivisions, can be more complicated than it appears on the surface. Not only should you determine whether the parcel has good, year-round physical access, you must also make sure that the physical access and the legal access are the same. This basically means making sure any roads you use to access your property are in the correct physical location. If the access to the parcel is improperly located, you may have to find another way in, at your expense.

Q: How can I make sure the access to the property is legal?
A: First, you must determine whether the roads that access properties in that area, as well as the access roads to your particular parcel, are public or private. If the roads are public, platted, and maintained by the county or other government entity, the existing access is most likely assured. The situation becomes more complicated if the access roads are private and legal access to parcels is granted via easements that run across the private property of others. In cases like this, it may be nearly impossible to ensure that all the roads that are used to access a parcel are legally located within the road easements.

If a dispute arises, common law dictates in most areas that once a road has been in use, a property owner must take civil legal action in order to physically stop others from using it. In other places, the property owner must provide an alternate route of comparable quality in order to stop others from using a roadway. If a survey shows that the road is improperly located, you should be prepared to move it at your expense. In many cases, the best solution is to try to come to some sort of agreement about the road with the property owner. If you are able to do this, get the agreement in writing and have it legally recorded. Another option is mediation or arbitration, offered in many jurisdictions as alternatives to court action.

Q: Is there any way to avoid situations where my property access is in dispute?
A: Not totally, but there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. First, inquire about the property access with the seller and/or his real estate agent. Ask the seller to sign a statement, required by some states and title insurance companies, to the effect that the property has physical and legal access, and that the physical and legal access are the same. Have this document recorded. Second, have the property surveyed, and the physical and legal access to the property described and mapped on the survey to the extent possible.  Third, obtain a title insurance policy that guarantees physical and legal access to the property.

Of course, these tips are generalizations only and do not adequately cover all situations, locations, or circumstances. We offer them for consideration only so that buyers may make more informed decisions about land purchases. It’s always a good idea to consult an attorney when making a real estate purchase. It may be expensive, but the cost is often well worth it, especially if potential problems are identified before the sale is final.

Rural Lifestyle Equates to Better Vision in Children

Over the years, we’ve heard from many happy site users and customers about the joys and benefits that come with rural land ownership. Now we’ve got a new one for you – a positive relationship between a rural lifestyle during childhood and adult visual acuity. Simply put, children who live in rural areas have better vision and experience significantly lower rates of nearsightedness than their urban counterparts. In fact, they are much healthier overall.

In the early 1970’s, about 25% of Americans were nearsighted. Today, nearly 43% of Americans need glasses or contact lenses for nearsightedness. Similar figures hold true around the world – but only in more developed countries. It’s fairly common knowledge that nearsightedness is hereditary. But what accounts for the marked increase in nearsightedness in developed countries? It turns out that genetics is only partly to blame. New scientific data suggest an entirely different culprit – sunlight. Or, to be more precise, the lack of it.

It seems that since the late 1970’s or so, we spend increasing amounts of time indoors under artificial lighting. Early in human history, our eyes evolved in the presence of sunlight. This seems logical, because we used to be hunters and gatherers who spent time almost exclusively outside, there being no real alternative at the time unless one happened to have a predator-free cave handy nearby. Now that most of us spend only a tiny fraction of our lives outside, it seems that we have lost something crucial to the normal development of vision. The mechanics are pretty straightforward: bright outdoor light helps maintain the correct distance between the retina and the lens in a child’s eye as it develops. When this distance is too great, as in children who have spent a lot of time indoors, nearsightedness results.

Clearly, it’s the amount of time spent outdoors that matters, and studies from around the world have shown that rural children spend more time outside than urban children. Sadly, the barriers to outdoor activity for urban children can be formidable and numerous, with lack of adequate outdoor play areas and parents’ fears of crime being the top two. Meanwhile, rural children have much freer access to the outdoors, and with much lower crime rates in rural areas, parents are more likely to let them enjoy it for longer periods of time. This is not to mention the fact that many children who live in rural areas, especially those that are largely agricultural, don’t have a choice but to be outside. After all, that’s where the chores are.

Still not convinced that rural living and being outdoors are good not only for for kids’ eyesight, but for their overall health and well-being? Other studies have shown that rural children around the world, from mainland China to England to the good old U.S. of A., have better vision than their urban counterparts. More time spent outdoors, due to sunlight or whatever else, means that kids can see better. Also, they are more physically active overall, have healthier vitamin D levels and cardiovascular systems, do not tend to be as obese as indoor children, and eat less junk food.

So, chalk up one more for the benefits of land ownership and a rural lifestyle. It’s clear that time spent outdoors translates to better vision (in children and adolescents, anyway) and an overall healthier lifestyle. And what a perfect reason to tell the children to shut down the video game console and go play outdoors – or to pack up the camping or hunting equipment for a weekend family outing!  They’ll thank you later for their excellent vision, and you’ll thank yourself for saving thousands of dollars that otherwise would have gone straight to the optometrist.

For more information on the benefits of the outdoors for children, see this report from ChildrenAndNature.org

Planting by the Light of the Moon, Part 3


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
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.

Astrological Planting
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.

Planting by the Light of the Moon, Pt. 2

Lunar Phase Agriculture

Part 2: Wax On, Wax Off – Tasks for Waxing and Waning Moons

Animated Crescent Moon and StarsPeople around the world have strongly believed in farming and gardening using the lunar calendar for centuries – and modern science has borne these beliefs out. The pull of the moon’s gravity as it orbits Earth affects oceanic tides, but also more subtly impacts the amount of moisture available in the soil and the internal fluid pressure of plant tissues – often in profound ways. The force of the moon’s pull on Earth is not constant, changing with the relative distance from its planetary neighbor. The effects of the moon’s gravity are thus different at different times, and so in turn are lunar planting, cultivating, and harvesting chores.

Waxing Moon – Increasing Light – New Moon to Full Moon
A waxing moon means that the visible, lit portion of the moon’s surface is growing larger, from the nearly invisible new moon to the first quarter moon to the full moon. After a full moon, the moon begins to wane, meaning the illuminated part grows smaller and smaller until it is again a new moon. Soil moisture and the ability of plants and seeds to absorb water are relatively high during a waxing moon. A waxing moon is a growing moon and generally favors seed germination and vigorous leaf and root growth. It is thought that this is because the sap of plants flows stronger during the light of the moon.

Activities that should be conducted by the light of the moon include harvesting and sowing seeds of above-ground plants (wait until the full moon to sow root crops), planting of trees, transplanting and pruning houseplants, fertilization, and grafting.

Waning Moon – Decreasing Light – Full Moon to New Moon
As the moon wanes from full back to new, plants begin to enter a period of relative dormancy. Plants put their energy into roots during a waning moon, so this is the best time to plant, transplant, and harvest root and bulb crops like beets, carrots, potatoes, peanuts, turnips, and onions. Perennial and biennial plants prefer to be planted during a waning moon because of the vigorous root growth. This is also a great time to prune outdoor plants and trees, because soil moisture levels are decreasing and less sap will flow from the limbs and branches cut.

Reduced soil and plant moisture during a waning moon has other effects, as well. Any root crop harvested during a waning moon will keep longer than those harvested during a waxing moon. Hay cut between a full and a new moon will dry faster and keep longer. Post holes dug during the dark of the moon will hold their posts more firmly.

Generally, waxing moons are for planting and harvesting of above-ground plants, transplanting houseplants, fertilizing, and grafting. Planting and harvesting of root and bulb crops should be done under a waning moon, as should weeding, pruning, and the killing of pests. In the next article in this series, we’ll take a look at how the signs of the Zodiac affect the hardiness, vigor, and yield of crops. This may sound unbelievable, but it’s true! Watch for it in your inbox.

Land & Property Review #129

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Lunar Planting, Part 1

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In this age of seemingly constant technological

advances, it is easy to forget that the moon was once

a guiding force in the everyday lives of most people

– and to some, it still is. A lot of ancient beliefs

about the moon are pure superstition, but many others,

especially those concerned with planting and other

farming and gardening tasks, have been shown to be at

least partially true. The gravitational pull of the

moon upon Earth actually does have physical effects,

such as controlling tidal cycles and causing pressure

changes in both subterranean aquifers and the internal

fluid systems of plants. Many contemporary farmers and

gardeners would not think of undertaking planting or

harvesting activities without first consulting an

astronomical calendar. READ MORE



Loan-to-value (or loan-to-value ratio). A common real

estate and finance abbreviation referring to the ratio

of the loan amount to the appraised value of the

property or the sales price, whichever is lower. This

term is also commonly used in real estate listings and

classified advertisements.

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Planting by the Light of the Moon, Pt. 1

A Guide to Lunar Planting:

Scheduling Farming and Gardening Tasks According to the Moon’s Phases

Moon - Lunar Planting

Part 1 – The Phases of the Moon

In this age of seemingly constant technological advances, it is easy to forget
that the moon was once a guiding force in the everyday lives of most people –
and to some, it still is. A lot of ancient beliefs about the moon are pure
superstition, but many others, especially those concerned with planting and
other farming and gardening tasks, have been shown to be at least partially
true. The gravitational pull of the moon upon Earth actually does have
physical effects, such as controlling tidal cycles and causing pressure changes
in both subterranean aquifers and the internal fluid systems of plants. Many
contemporary farmers and gardeners would not think of undertaking planting or
harvesting activities without first consulting an astronomical calendar.

For those who hold by these tenets, doing the right thing at the right time can
make all the difference in the world. Knowing whether the moon is waxing or
waning, between Full Moon and New Moon or vice versa, or in its First Quarter
or Last Quarter phase can make or break a successful growing season, or so
lunar planters and harvesters believe. And it seems they have a valid point. An
article appearing in the scientific journal ‘Biological Agriculture and
Horticulture’ synthesized the findings of previous studies and concludes that,
indeed, ‘lunar factors may have a practical significance for agriculture’.

The Pull of the Moon

The moon is the nearest celestial body to the Earth and its gravity greatly
affects Earth, exerting a pulling force that is quite strong. This force controls, to a great degree, the tidal action of oceans, soil moisture levels, and the delicate balance of water and other fluids in the internal systems of plants. The effects of lunar gravitational pull are strongest when the moon is
closest to the Earth – during the new moon and full moon phases of the lunar cycle. The pull is strong during the new moon, when the moon is between the Earth and the sun, but even stronger during a full moon because both the moon and the sun are exerting gravitational influences from opposite sides of the Earth.

Oceanic tides are highest during a full moon and new moon because of the moon’s gravity. So are soil moisture levels and the ability of plants and seeds to absorb moisture, which is why these moon phases are considered good times to do general plantings and seed sowing. Seeds germinate best and plants grow fastest during new and full moons. Researchers have found that this is true even in experiments conducted in laboratories where the plants were never directly exposed to the moon.

Phases of the Moon
The moon, like Earth, has one-half of its surface illuminated by the sun at any one time. We see different portions of the moon’s illuminated surface at different times, due to the orbital rotation of the moon around Earth and to the rotation of Earth on its axis. The phases of the moon correspond with and describe the ever-changing visible portions of its surface. The moon rises in the east and sets in the west, about 50 minutes later each day. It takes 29.5  days for the moon to orbit Earth and complete all its phases, moving gradually  eastward at a rate imperceptible to the naked eye. Together the phases of the moon are known as a “lunar cycle” or, to astronomers, a “lunation”. The first phase of each lunation is the new moon.

New Moon

During this phase, also called the “dark of the moon”, the moon is almost
directly between the Earth and the sun. The moon is nearly invisible, with its
lit half facing almost entirely away from Earth. A new moon, like all moon
phases, occurs about once a month. On rare occasions, a solar eclipse may occur
during a new moon, if the moon is positioned exactly between the sun and Earth.
A new moon rises and sets with the sun, and shadows it across the daytime sky.

During a new moon, soil moisture levels are high and plants and seeds absorb water very well. The result is that the new moon phase of the lunar cycle is a time of balanced leaf and root growth. According to lunar folklore, new moons are a good time to plant above-ground crops and crops that bear their seeds outside the fruit. Examples include grains, beans, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, and celery. Plants that are transplanted or repotted during a new moon tend to do well because of the soil moisture available in this phase.

Waxing Crescent Moon

waxing crescent moon
Waxing Cresecent Moon

A waxing moon occurs when the lit portion of the moon appears to be growing successively larger each evening as it progresses from a new moon to a full moon and back to a new moon. Waxing crescent moons can be seen between one and  several days following the new moon. Waxing crescent moons are called “right-hand moons”, because they appear similar to the curved edge of a right hand. Some also call them “young moons”. Waxing crescent moons are always seen in the west after sunset. They rise from one to several hours after sunset and set a few hours after sunrise.

First Quarter Moon

first quarter moon
First Quarter Moon

A first quarter moon occurs about a week after a new moon. It appears as a semicircle, like the letter “D” – half of the side of the moon facing Earth is illuminated, and half is in shadow. This moon phase takes its name from the fact that the moon has now completed 1/4 of its orbit around Earth (as measured from new moon to new moon). Because half the moon’s face is lit, some people call this a “half moon”. First quarter moons rise at noon and set at midnight.

The first quarter is a good time for general planting – especially two days prior to the full moon. A first quarter moon is considered to be a very fruitful period and a time of vigorous leaf growth. It is also supposed to be the absolute best time to plant corn. If you want your lawn to grow faster, mow it during this phase. Crops that do well when sown during a first quarter moon include above-ground annuals with seeds that grow inside fruit, like tomatoes, beans, melons, peppers, squash, and peas.

Waxing Gibbous Moon

Waxing Gibbous Moon

“Gibbous” refers to those phases where more than one-half of the moon’s visible surface is illuminated – in between the last quarter and new moon or the first
quarter and full moon. A waxing gibbous moon appears in the eastern sky after sunset and looks nearly full. It occurs between one and two weeks after a new moon. Waxing gibbous moons are often visible during the day.


Full Moon

Full moons rise around sunset and set in the morning at about sunrise. They occur about two weeks following the new moon and mark the completion of half the lunar cycle (1/2 a lunation). During the full moon phase, the moon is on the opposite of the Earth from the sun and is positioned in such a way as to reflect sunlight across its entire Earth-facing side. Needless to say, a full moon is the brightest, longest-lasting phase of the lunar cycle.

Lunar planting guides say that the full moon is a good time to transplant and
repot plants, and that root crops harvested during a full moon will keep
longer. Because of increased soil moisture and uptake of water by plant tissues
and seeds, full moons are also a very good time for general planting and sowing
of seeds.

Waning Gibbous Moon
“Waning” describes any phase where the visible part of the moon’s illuminated
surface is growing smaller, from a full moon to a crescent moon, eventually
passing into the new moon phase. This visible portion is smaller each night,
moving from right to left. Waning moons are called “left-hand moons”, because
they appear similar to the curved edge of a left hand. Waning gibbous moons
rise several hours after sunset, often appearing orange or red and abnormally
large when near the horizon, both of which are optical illusions. Waning
gibbous moons set hours after sunrise and therefore can usually be seen well
into the morning hours in the western sky.

Last Quarter Moon
When one-half of the moon’s face is lit, it is called a “quarter moon”. A last
quarter moon occurs approximately three weeks after a new moon and one week
after a full moon, when the moon has completed about three-fourths if its
journey around Earth. A last quarter moon rises around midnight and sets
around noon. It appears in the sky as a backward “D”.

According to lunar folklore, timber should be cut during the quarter moon,
because it will dry and cure better and be more resistant to insects, mold, and
fungus. The lessened gravitational pull of the moon and decreasing moonlight
suggest that this is a period of rest, which continues until the next new moon.
This is a great time to clear brush, cut trees, kill weeds or pests, harvest,
and prune.

Waning Crescent Moon
A waning crescent moon is the final moon phase before the new moon – the lunar
cycle is nearly complete. Waning crescent moons rise in the east a few hours
before sunrise – if you are not an early riser yourself, you may never see one.
Waning crescent moons stay in the sky all day, but are not visible against the
glare of the sun. They set a few hours (or less) before the sun.

Waning crescent moons mark the most dormant time of the month in terms of plant
growth. Like a last quarter moon, activities like weeding, pruning, harvesting,
and so forth should be conducted during a waning crescent moon. This is the
best time to till soil, in part because it is easier due to the fact that soil
moisture is lower during this phase. If you would like to reduce your lawn’s
growing rate, this is the time to mow it.

Hair Moon

One final non-agricultural, yet extremely important, note is that unbeknownst
to most of us, the phases of the moon can also affect our hair. Although
researchers have not yet been able to prove this, we at EagleStar.net feel that
it is only a matter of time before they do. Just as the moon’s gravity causes
increases or decreases in plant and soil moisture, so it does to our hair. What
this means is that if you normally have frizzy hair, expect it to be frizzier
during new and full moons. On the other hand, if you have dry, flyaway hair,
expect these to be your best hair days. Just like mowing your lawn, cut your
hair during a last quarter or waning crescent moon to retard its growth and
during the first quarter to encourage it. Even though this may be slightly
off-topic, we thought it important to impart to you this crucial information.

Increasing crop yields by planning agricultural and gardening activities around
the lunar calendar is certainly more than an old wives’ tale. Scientific
studies and experiments have shown this procedure to be highly effective and a
very useful tool for farmers and gardeners alike. We know that the effects of
the moon on plants are due to its gravity, which pulls on the water and other
fluids of Earth. What we don’t know is why the position of the moon relative to
signs and constellations of the Zodiac affects certain kinds of plants in
different – and often amazing – ways.

In Parts 2 and 3, we’ll explore these effects and offer some
more general tips on planting by the moon.

EagleStar Flash #136





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