Gardening with the Moon.

When I am gardening I find it incredibly calming and soothing to feel that I am working with nature. In these unsettled times particularly, it can be great a solace that the natural world keeps repeating its well-trodden patterns. Snowdrops are followed by daffodils, each reliably returning every year, and bringing with them fresh delight and wonder as Spring begins to unfold.

Something I’m really interested in, but haven’t followed too closely before, is gardening by the moon. It is a method that has been practised for centuries by many societies including the Celts in Britain, the Māori’s in New Zealand and the Ancient Egyptians on the Nile, and it is still employed by quite a number of gardeners today, so I’m fascinated to see if it makes any difference to my success and failures with plants this year. The full moon in April is appropriately called the Budding Moon, New Shoots Moon or the Seed Moon, which is encouragement enough so, armed with a copy of the Almanac I am ready to make a start on an intriguing experiment.

The underlying principle of this approach to gardening is that the phases of the moon not only control the rising and falling of the oceans’ tides, but also influence groundwater and even water inside plants. The theory taps into the moon’s magnetic pull on the earth as it waxes and wanes, so increasing and decreasing energy and thus directing us when to do various tasks.

So, whether you use this method or not, here is a list of jobs to do this month with a little bit of lunar guidance:

New Moon to first quarter 1st-8th April.

Rising vitality and upward growth. The energy gets stronger as the moon moves to the first quarter, so an ideal time to sow seeds of those plants that grow above ground and to prick out seedlings.

Pot-on houseplants, start watering them more regularly and feed fortnightly.

Feed and mulch roses.

First quarter to Full moon 9th-16 April

Energy continues to rise, so continue to sow seeds but not those of crops that grow underground.

Sow hardy flower seed in pots or direct to soil – keep an eye on frosts and cover if required.

Full moon to 3rd quarter 17th-23rd April

A ‘drawing down’ energy. Sow and plant crops that develop beneath the ground: root crops, bulbs and tubers (Lilies and Gladioli).

Split perennials.

3rd quarter to new moon 23rd-30th April

A dormant period with low sap and poor growth. Time for some garden maintenance, so prune early spring flowering shrubs (Forsythia, Viburnum tinus) and weed.

If the weather is getting warmer, then begin to harden off plants that have been propagated under cover.

Originally published in Focus magazine

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