This year, we’ve returned, cautiously, to the practice of gardening by the moon. This doesn’t mean nocturnal weeding, though we would benefit from a few more night patrols to catch slugs. Rather, it is the truly ancient gardening practice of sowing, planting; even weeding and harvesting, to the rhythm of the lunar cycle.
Lunar planting was largely sidelined by advances in soil science, though there is clearly some scientific rationale, as well as a healthy handful of earth-based spirituality, to it: after all, the waxing and waning of the moon affects tidal movements, sap rise in trees, female menstruation and indeed human behaviour. According to lunatics, you sow on the waxing moon as the rising waters encourage germination, and plant out after the full moon, as the descending energy “pulls” roots down.
All well and good, but whatever gardening you do, it’s hard enough to stick to a strict schedule, as the weather, garden developments, other joys and chores of life invariably combine to throw you off schedule much of the time. Which is why I’ve previously tried and turned from the moonlight: just one more complication you don’t need. Then again, there’s nothing like a challenge.
And so it was that on Thursday, as I was about to set off to celebrate spring in the tradition of the Belgian cycling Classics, I had everyone rushing around planting potatoes, shallots and salads that had been sat around like lemons in the waning window, watching the grapefruit moon extinguish.
Then next week, we’ll be sowing three weeks’ worth of seed – some 3,000 plugs. Trying to keep with the lunar rhythm is reminding me a little of when I took my two left feet to salsa classes. That said, and whether or not we detect any significant improvements in plant growth as a result of our efforts, there is a satisfying sense of reconnection and wholeness, in this working with lunar, as well as solar, energy. An occasional bit of mild panic is a small, perhaps a mandatory, price to pay for this.