Sunday, September 30, 2012

Gardening by the Moon

I am going to try something different this garden season; I am going to follow the planting advice from the Farmer’s Almanac.

I’ve been meaning to do it for a while just to see if it makes a difference.  There are many who swear by it and do well with it.  I know several farmers who refuse to budge without it and it has played a role in my family too.  But the question remains, isn’t the farmer’s almanac little more than the same hocus pocus that astrology is based upon?  Isn’t modern science and our ability to predict weather much more reliable?

In the 70’s when I bundled myself off to Oregon State University to get my agricultural education degree, farming by chemistry was king.  Whether it was plant or animal, manipulating biology with chemical additives “freed” farming from the capricious behavior of Mother Nature.  Who needed the moon when you had Monsanto?  I cheerfully participated by spraying pesticides and injecting hormones at every opportunity.  Organic was how the old people farmed because they just didn’t know any better.

Ah, youth.

So here I am, the same age as my grandfather at my earliest memory of knowing how old he was, poring over the farmer’s almanac.  And it’s not just me.  It is astounding to me that since I graduated from college in 1981 that the world of agriculture is slowly starting to pivot back to the sustainable practices of my grandfather’s time.  Turns out that chemistry wasn’t the end all answer.

Now please, don’t get me wrong.  I am not going to sit here on my nice couch and bash industrial agriculture.  After all, it is through the use of chemical fertilizer and pesticides that have enabled me to live in the city and work in an office instead of out in the fields like my grandparents.  It is also because of the industrialization of our food supply that we can stop thinking about where to find food and actually discuss the quality of it.

As a gardener, and someone who is not dependent on the land to provide me an income, I have a lot more freedom to choose and to consider the impact I am having on my health, the environment, the economy, and my role in the community.  Through my own gardening practices I have seen the benefit of turning away from chemicals and delving back into the natural cycle of life.  I have seen my crop yields increase as I put down the sprayer and actually attract more bugs, and thus more pollinators, into the garden.  Every day I open the newspaper to read about new assaults on the quality of our food supply.  Whether it is from genetic engineering or contamination.  People are dying from eating cantaloupe and spinach.  Scary stuff.

So I have become an advocate of organic methods.  Which is exactly what my grandparents were doing when they farmed.  And now I am going one step further and am trying to garden within the rhythm and influence of the moon.  After all, if that big satellite can cause the ocean to be tidal, isn’t it plausible that it have the same influence on everything else?

I planted my root crops yesterday per the almanac.  Carrots need a lot of light to germinate.  Is it any coincidence that I planted them at the full moon?  Hmm.  Stay tuned.


  1. A few years ago, one of my friends got me a Farmer's Almanac. I tried to use it as much as possible, but there were some crops that I had to plant because the Almanac would say to plant during a certain time (such as saying that tomatoes should be transplanted in mid February or in mid April), and I just couldn't do it.

  2. I know what you mean. You definitely can't be a free gardening spirit under such tyranny! But I'm going to try it and see what happens.