Most of us, especially women, know the moon is responsible for more than just eclipse gazing. Throughout history, maize farmers planted their crops closer to the full moon. Why is that? Well, naturally, they discovered they yielded larger, healthier crops. Gaye Boshoff, a freelance designer and produce supplier from HoneyMoon farm, had been sowing her seeds in moon cycles for years, also noticing that her veggie crop was improved. She decided this knowledge should be made more easily accessible to other gardeners, and together with additional planting information on microclimates, created the Moonbloom Food Planting Calendars. We caught up with her to find out how planting with the moon actually worked and what other tips she had up her sleeve for beginner gardeners.
First, how the moon affects your veggie patch
The moon actually influences our planet in 3 scientific ways, namely water, gravity and light. During the period when the moon is waxing, in other words growing brighter, the gravitational pull on the Earth’s water is the greatest. 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.
The 4 main moon planting cycles in gardening lore
To begin planting in alignment with the moon, first you must understand these 4 phases.
1. New moon to first quarter
Here the moon is beginning to wax and is in a semi fertile period.
- An ideal time to plant crops that produce their seeds outside the fruit
- Also most suited to sowing or transplanting leafy annuals, where we eat the leaves or stem
2. 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
3. Full moon to last quarter
This is 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 will be affected.
4. Last quarter to new moon
This is the most barren period as the gravitational pull on the Earth’s water is at its weakest. Do not plant during this period., weed and rather get rid of pests instead.
- Best for weeding and rather get rid of pests instead
So, how did the idea for Moonbloom arise?
Life is busy, being a mother, graphic designer, honey, free range egg and seasonal veg producer. Through the years I have planted my seeds in sync with the cycles of the moon together with the seed rainfall planting calendar which has contributed to my successful harvests. However, I felt the need to produce a good concise planting calendar that could assist me and other food growers throughout South Africa that encompassed all of this information.
How does the Moonbloom calendar work?
Moonbloom is a month-by-month South African scientific moon cycle and climate zone calendar. A list of vegetables and herbs to sow, plant and transplant in each climate zone of SA is featured at the back of each month’s leaf, so make your notes on what to buy, plant or do and place on your fridge with the magnet or share with your gardener. It is practical and easy to use.
How can following the calendar improve my vegetable crop?
The calendar is beneficial in creating a healthier organic crop where pesticides do not necessarily
have to be used, it increases plant strength, survival and the yield is far greater.
The 5 main mistakes people make when they start herb and veg gardening
1. Overeager: Don’t go big, start small, even if it’s in a pot.
2. Poor Soil: Don’t plant in any soil, replace or replenish it with lots of good compost which will be your veggies food for a while.
3. Not mulching: Especially when it comes to food growing. Mulching helps a lot to keep the nutrients and water in the soil. Collect mowed grass and place on the prepared bed at least 5cm thick. Don’t worry your seeds or plants will find a way through.
4. Poor sun exposure: Not planting in a sunny spot is a big underestimation – your vegetables need plenty energy to grow.
5. Insufficient watering: It’s best to give your vegetables water in the mornings and at the base of each stem – keeps disease away.
If I was just starting out, which 3 crops are the most rewarding to grow?
If you’re growing from seed, I would suggest these 3:
Spinach – an easy grower, you can pluck and eat from it for a while
Baby tomatoes – a never ending salad delight, but beware the bushes get big and can take over your garden.
Carrots – as long as your soil is fine for about 30cm deep, you’ll have the most beautiful, delicious carrots – can’t get enough of them.
Now is the time to reinvigorate those tired veggie patches and if you’ve never taken up gardening and are curious to explore the world of home-grown herbs and veg with a Moonbloom Planting Calendar to guide you, then we’ll be here with heirloom seeds, sunscreen and cheering waves.
There are few things as rewarding as growing your own food. Here’s to discovering that joy on your own journey to greater well-being.