HOMEGROWN Life: How to Schedule your Planting by the Moon

Reader Contribution by Farm Aid And Homegrown.Org
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The seed catalogs are starting roll in and with it comes
the need to organize and figure out what next year’s garden is going to
be like. So with that, I think right now is the prime time to repost
some of my garden planning techniques. This first one is how to create a
schedule for your plantings. You don’t have to plan according to the
moon cycles but you’ll find other helpful information about frost dates
and such. I live in a very mild climate with an extraordinary long
growing season.I used to just plop things in the ground as needed but
nothing ever blew me away production-wise. Then I started reading about
growing by the cycles of the moon. It made sense to me. The
gravitational pull of the moon effects so many things, why not also
plants? Also the moon offers reflective light that can be absorbed by

The first thing you will need to do is determine your area’s average
first and last frost dates. Almost all plantings are first based off of
these dates. There are several resources online to help you find this,
but the most inclusive list can be found here through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website. You want to choose the dates under the 10% columns.

The next thing you want to do is figure out when your seeds will need to be planted. Johnny’s Select Seeds
has a spreadsheet that you can download that will help you determine
the dates. The downside of this spreadsheet is that it only works for
summer vegetables. Now that you have your planting dates for your plants
it’s time to determine when during the moon cycles you should start
them. For transplants that will be planted indoors or in a greenhouse
you can choose the closest corresponding moon phase either before or
after the given date on the spreadsheet. If they are direct sown seeds
you’ll want to choose the closest moon phase after the date. To find out
the moon phase dates you can check the Farmer’s Almanac moon phase calendar.

So what gets planted when?

After the full moon: Moonlight is decreasing, but because of the strong gravitational
pull, there is more moisture in the soil. Transplanting and planting
root crops is favorable during this time.

What to plant:Beets, Carrots, Onions, Garlic,
Parsnips, Turnips, Rutabagas, Potatoes, Peanuts, Celeraic, Leeks,
Radishes, Salsify, and any other root crop. Bulbs, perennials, and
biennials are good to plant now too.

After the 4th Quarter: Decreasing moonlight and gravitational pull make this a resting period.
It’s a good time to cultivate, harvest, transplant and prune.

After the new moon: Increasing gravitational pull and moonlight create equal root and leaf
growth. This is a good time for planting above ground crops that produce
seeds outside the fruit. What to plant: Broccoli,
Cabbage, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower, Lettuce, Chard, Spinach, Grain
crops (including corn), Artichokes, Bok Choy, Cardoon, Celery, most
Herbs, Greens, Kale, Kohlrabi, etc. Cucumbers also like this phase
though they are an exception to the rule.

After the 2nd Quarter: The gravitational pull is lessening but the moonlight is increasing. This is a good time to plant above ground fruiting crops. What to plant: Beans, Peas, Squash, Tomatoes, Eggplant, Tomatillos, Berries, Melons, Gourds, Okra, Peppers, etc.

My friends in college used to call me a Renaissance woman. I was always doing something crafty, creative, or utilitarian. I still am. My focus these days, instead of arts and crafts, has been farming as much of my urban quarter acre as humanly possible. With my husband, we run Dog Island Farm in the SF Bay Area. We raise chickens, goats, rabbits, dogs, cats, and a kid. We’re always keeping busy. If I’m not out in the yard I’m in the kitchen making something from scratch. Homemade always tastes better!