Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring Equinox & Planting with the Moon Cycle, Part 1: Cultivating the Soil

I would like to write a series of posts this season about planting according to the moon cycle and moon signs. This is a centuries old practice followed by farmers and those living close to the land and it extends to much more than just planting.  In reference to the moon's potent sway over bodies of water, Pliny the Elder, a first century Roman naturalist, said that the moon "replenishes the earth when she approaches it, she fills all bodies, while, when she recedes, she empties them" (The Old Farmers Almanac).  This gives us a guide for when to plant certain types of vegetables and fruit.  Just as the moon's gravitational pull determines the tides it also has an impact on moisture in the soil.  Tests have actually proven that seeds absorb the most moisture on a full moon ( Generally, plants that bear their fruit below the ground (root vegetables) should be planted when the moon is waning and those that bear fruit above ground when the moon is waxing.  There are much more detailed guides than this and some break the monthly cycle down into quarters to be even more exact.  I am going to start this series of posts with the cultivation of the soil that is necessary before beginning to plant for the season.  Today is the vernal equinox (or Spring Equinox).  The day and night are of equal length and this day marks the beginning of longer days and shorter nights.  It's a perfect time to begin preparing our garden for the onset of spring.  We have already seen Mother Earth starting to wake from winter slumber and come alive on our homestead. Chickens are laying eggs, goats are kidding, the ground is greening, fruit trees have started to bloom, and I even saw the first bluebird yesterday!  Today we are celebrating these signs of fertility and re-birth and hoping to be blessed with a fruitful garden this season!  This weekend we will be very close to the 4th quarter of the moon cycle, the moon is waning (heading from full to new) and the moon will be in Sagittarius.  The waning or receding moon is considered a dry time, especially the 4th quarter.  The "semi-barren" sign of sagittarius also makes this time particularly suited to preparing the bare earth for planting.  This is the time to kill any weeds, do any pruning, prepare your soil, and perform any other general management.  If you live somewhere warm and have already done this, the 3rd quarter of the moon cycle, which we are still in this week, is when it is best to plant crops that bear their fruit below the ground; carrots, radishes, and so forth.  It is also best to plant fruit trees during the 3rd quarter even though they bear their fruit above ground.  We will be planting some carrot seedlings in pots to celebrate the spring equinox today, which happens to fall into the 3rd quarter of the moon phase.  Every year I use this activity to have the children draw a parallel between preparing the physical soil and planting the actual seed and preparing their spiritual soil and planting a "seed" for some kind of personal growth inside themselves that they can nurture for the rest of the year.

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