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Planting by the Moon

Does gardening by the lunar calendar work?

Gisborne gardener and green thumb Adrian Sutherland believes it does

As a kid growing up in Tolaga Bay, he often heard about the Moon and its effect on gardening.

While many people prep, plant, and prune their garden according to the seasons, it turns out there is another way to do it — by the lunar calendar, which is based on the monthly cycles of the Moon’s phases.

The general guide for gardening by the Moon is to plant fruit and vegetables that bear crops above the ground (tomatoes, zucchini) after the new moon and root vegetables (potatoes, carrots) after the full moon.

In the days following a new moon there is an increasing gravitational pull of the Moon, which helps to increase the rate of sap flow in plants and trees, allowing them to absorb more moisture and nutrients from the soil.

As a full moon nears, the gravitational pull weakens, Mr Sutherland said.

“The energy is more downward, therefore plants under the surface benefit the most.”

For a home gardener who is starting out, gardening by the lunar calendar is an interesting way to observe how it works.

“The more time you spend in the garden, the more things you will observe,” he said.

According to the lunar calendar the best time to plant above-ground fruits and vegetables is during the new moon and the first quarter phase of the lunar cycle.

To begin the process of gardening by the Moon, fill a punnet or container with compost. If using a low-cost compost sift out the bigger pieces of bark. If you have a worm farm, the vermicast is perfect for seed raising

Plant seeds directly into the soil and carefully water them.

Growing seedlings in a glasshouse in a warmer temperature allows seeds to germinate and grow better during colder months. You can also grow them on a windowsill indoors.

While the seedlings are growing prepare the garden where they will be planted. Remove any weeds from the space and rake over the area every one to two weeks.

Once the seedlings are roughly five to 10 centimetres tall transplant them into the garden and water them. If available, add liquid fertiliser or worm juice after transplanting.

Transplanting is best done two to three days before a full moon.

Pests such as slugs and snails can do a lot of damage in the garden. It helps to keep the garden free of pieces of wood, plastic and cardboard, which serve as a good hiding place for pests. Removing pests will give the seedlings a good chance to settle in and grow.

Within six to eight weeks the plants should be ready for consumption.

A similar process can be followed when planting root vegetables, but these should be planted after the start of the full moon.

Since every house has its own microclimate, there are certain conditions that will help the plants grow.

• A sunny spot

• Keep away from wind

• Keep the plants well watered (at least two/three times a week)

• Add compost or manure to the garden.

LUNAR BENEFIT: Talented gardener Adrian Sutherland, pictured with wife Bong and daughter Lily Melody, is an advocate of gardening by the lunar calendar. Picture by Paul Rickard