In Sustainable Farming

Gardening by the Moon CalendarPreparing for March 20th

Due to the tilt of the Earth in relation to the sun, an equinox is when day and night are of equal length which results in our seasons. The moon calendar is based on the different phases of the moon, and did you know that you can plant for spring according to this calendar?

Spring is generally considered the period between the vernal equinox and the summer solstice. Culturally, the vernal equinox is symbolic of rebirth, renewal, and growth and in certain countries, it is tradition to plant gardens during this time. This is the time where we anxiously await fresh plants to bloom and everything seems greener. However the timing of these changes varies depending upon location. In the Northern Hemisphere, the vernal equinox typically occurs around March 20 and in the Southern Hemisphere, around September 22.

The Spring Awakening: Vernal Equinox

Temperatures rise in the hemisphere that is tilted closer to the sun. The ground that freeze or frost during the winter months soften. Warmer temperatures soften the earth, making it more yielding to plants. Also during this time, spring rains help infant seeds take root.

The expansion of rainfall in spring may bring some flooding due to melted snow. Spring may also boost storms, as warm air from the equator combines with still-cool air farther north or south.

Moon Calendar Planting

What is gardening by the moon? There are three techniques for planting by the lunar cycle. The Synodic, or waxing and waning cycle, the Biodynamic cycle, and the Sidereal.

  • The Synodic (waxing/waning) cycle includes dividing the Luna cycle into four quarters. This cycle takes 29.6 days to complete and assigns the plants into the following four categories: root crops, foliage, crops with seeds on the outside, and crops with seeds on the inside. The plants are then assigned to the quarters or phases of the Luna cycle according to what suits their growing characteristics.
  • The Biodynamic cycle is a more detailed method using Zodiac signs as a method of positioning to the moon; which creates a more accurate way of planting. Crops would be planted where the actual positioning of the Zodiac signs were in the sky when the moon passed through them.
  • The Sidereal cycle is very similar to the Biodynamic cycle except only the moon’s orbit around the earth is used to define the best times to sow and harvest.

Want to learn more and see a guide to gardening by the moon calendar? To find your region’s moon-favorable planting dates, The Old Farmer’s Almanac has a handy map and planting guide.

How will you celebrate this year’s vernal equinox?

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