UNDERSTANDING THE MOON
Throughout history maize farmers planted their crops closer to the full moon. They found they produced a bigger and healthier crop.
There are 3 factors that the moon scientifically influences us on our planet Earth – water, gravity and light. When the moon is waxing or when the moon is growing brighter, the gravitational pull on the Earth’s water is the greatest at this time and this causes water in the soil to come to the surface. Plants are also predominantly made of water and thus this is a good phase for upwards growth. The plants also benefit from the increased moonlight during the night. When the moon is waning or when the moon is growing darker, the adverse effect applies.
According to gardening lore, there are 4 moon planting cycles:
- New moon to first quarter: Here the moon is beginning to wax and is a semi fertile period. An ideal time to plant crops that produce their seeds outside the fruit and are most suited to sowing or transplanting leafy annuals, where we eat the leaves or stem.
- First quarter to full moon: This is the most fertile period. The success rate of seed germination increases a few days before a full moon. This phase is most suited to fruiting annuals where we value or eat the fruit or seed bearing part of the plant.
- Full moon to last quarter: A semi barren period. As the moon wanes, it is beneficial to those plants who rely on strong root systems, things that grow underground or plants that are decorative or fruiting perennials.
- Last quarter to new moon: The most barren period as the gravitational pull on the Earth’s water is at its weakest. Do not plant, weed and rather get rid of pests instead.
Now a days we know so much more about planting, from the condition of the soil, to microclimates, so for the large scale farmer, planting by the moon may not be significant, but certainly for the home food grower, this cycle can be beneficial in creating a healthier organic crop where pesticides do not necessarily have to be used and the yield is far greater.
UNDERSTANDING CLIMATE ZONES AND MICROCLIMATES
Climate zones are the general weather conditions averaged over a series of years usually found in a particular place composing of temperature, air pressure, humidity, rainfall, sunshine, cloud and wind throughout the year.
A microclimate is a smaller area within a climate zone that has its own unique climate. This can be caused by the slope or aspect of an area, living near water, living in a heavy urban area, climate change or the use of a greenhouse. If you are growing in an uncommon climate, use a combination of the monthly given climate zones to suit your planting needs.