Lit Moon In The Night Sky
quarter moon
(Image credit: Marcus Vegas)

Farmer's Almanacs and old wives' tales are rife with advice about planting by phases of the moon. According to this advice on planting by moon cycles, a gardener should plant things in the following way:

  • First-quarter moon cycle (new moon to half full) - Things that are leafy, like lettuce, cabbage, and spinach, should be planted.
  • Second-quarter moon cycle (half full to full moon) - Planting time for things that have seeds inside, like tomatoes, beans, and peppers.
  • Third-quarter moon cycle (full moon to half full) - Things that grow underground or plants that are perennials, like potatoes, garlic, and raspberries, can be planted.
  • Fourth-quarter moon cycle (half full to new moon) - Do not plant. Weed, mow, and kill pests instead.

The question is, is there anything to planting by phases of the moon? Will planting before a full moon really make that much more difference than planting after a full moon? There's no denying that the phases of the moon affect all sorts of things, like the ocean and even the land, so it would make logical sense that the moon phases would also affect the water and land that a plant was growing in. There has been some research done on the topic of planting by moon phase. Maria Thun, a biodynamic farmer, has tested planting by the moon cycles for years and claims that it does improve planting yield. Many farmers and scientists have repeated her tests on planting by phases of the moon and found the same thing. The study of planting by phases of the moon doesn't stop there. Even respected universities like Northwestern University, Wichita State University, and Tulane University have also found that the phase of the moon may affect plants and seeds. So, there is some evidence that planting by moon cycles can affect your garden. Unfortunately, it is just evidence, not proven fact. Other than a few cursory studies done at a few universities, there has not been a study done that can definitively say that planting by moon phase will help the plants in your garden. But the evidence on planting by the moon cycles is encouraging and it certainly can't hurt to try. What do you have to lose? Maybe planting before a full moon and planting by phases of the moon really does make a difference.

Heather Rhoades
Founder of Gardening Know How

Heather Rhoades founded Gardening Know How in 2007. She holds degrees from Cleveland State University and Northern Kentucky University. She is an avid gardener with a passion for community, and is a recipient of the Master Gardeners of Ohio Lifetime Achievement Award.