First, find the best moon phase for your crops. If they are annual plants that produce above ground you will want to plant in the first or second quarter, preferably close to the time of the new or full moon. Root crops are best planted just after the full moon.
Secondly, find the astrological sign of the zodiac that best represents your crop. Roots are favored by earth signs of Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn; leafy crops are best planted in Cancer, Scorpio or Pisces; flowers are best in Libra, but also Gemini or Aquarius; and seed crops such as fruits and nuts may be planted in Aries, Leo, or Sagittarius. Some consider the fire signs to be barren and dry, and not the best for planting, so you can experiment and see what works for you. This information can be found on other calendars sometimes, or in an ephemeris, which will tell you the moon ingress (goes into a sign) or last aspect (leaves a sign) in Greenwich Mean Time.
Of course, you must be in the right season to get good results. Each type of seed has preferences of air and soil temperature for planting, which overrides the benefit of lunar cycles. See this chart to find out preferred growing temperatures.
If you want to get the most out of your season, especially if it is a short one, you will want to start seeds in flats in a controlled environment, and have them ready to go in the ground when the weather warms up. To calculate when to start seeds you need to know when your average last frost dates are. You can find that out from USDA frost maps, which provides general guidelines. For a more accurate date, contact your local agricultural extension, university or master gardeners program. Remember that these dates represent an average, and you may experience frosts after these dates as well.
Once you know your frost date, you will want to know how many weeks it takes to grow to transplant size (see chart). Starting at your last frost date, count backwards the number of weeks you need. Next, look for the nearest favorable moon phase, and then to the perfect moon sign. Some adjustment may be necessary, pushing that date up or back to accommodate a particularly frost sensitive plant, or a warmer year than normal. A plant can always be potted up and held until the outdoor temperature is right.
To calculate when to start a fall garden, work from the first expected frost date, counting back the number of weeks needed to reach harvest. In mild winter areas, hardy crops can be planted a month or two later. They need to get some good growth before the cold weather sets in, then they will reward you with an late fall or early spring harvest.
If all those instructions seem too complicated, then let us figure it out for you!
This calendar gathers all the moon planting information-- and much more valuable gardening advice-- into one easy to read format.
The calendar is available in three different versions for your specific climate, and each month shows the garden activities and planting list appropriate for your growing season. Gardening by the Moon will keep you on track all year long, and you will have more abundant harvests than you ever imagined
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