Alice Spenser-Higgs
2 minute read
1 Mar 2014
8:00 am

Gardening with the help of the moon

Alice Spenser-Higgs

March should be one of the busiest months in the vegetable garden.

BUDGET BEATER. An old bath and washbasin find new meaning as pots for parsley, lettuce and cabbage.

Over and above harvesting, it is the best time for planting root crops and cool season crops for winter and into spring. By coincidence – or maybe not – today is a new moon. Gardening according to the moon, is an ancient garden practice that synergises garden tasks like planting, weeding, watering, pest control, and harvesting, with the stages of the moon.

The benefits may be more anecdotal than documented but there is something about gardening in tune with the elements. It is a way to get closer to nature.

In South Africa, the best known lunar guide is drawn up by Ilona Thorndike – and according to her guide for March there is no time to waste.

Today and tomorrow, as well as Wednesday and Thursday, are the best days to sow or transplant leafy green vegetables. That means sowing lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage and other Asian greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, celery, kohlrabi, spinach and Swiss chard.

PRETTY AND PRACTICAL. Grow spinach among the flowers.

PRETTY AND PRACTICAL. Grow spinach among the flowers.

On the lunar chart these days are indicated as fertile and, being a waxing moon, it is also a time when plants increase in vitality. That means that germination should be successful. Also, one can sow hot (pungent) veggies, such as onions, spring onions and radishes on Monday and Tuesday. If that is not possible, diarise Saturday March 23, and Sunday March 24, as well as the last weekend of the month for sowing these veggies.

It is interesting to see that the days indicated for sowing leafy greens are “fertile” days and that composting, mulching and soil preparation activities also coincide with these days. This makes sense because all these vegetables need fertile, well-prepared soil, whereas onions (“Texas Grano”) and spring onions that don’t have such high nutrient demands are planted on so-called “barren” days.

That leaves root veggies (beetroot, carrots, parsnips, turnips) and the best time for these is during the waning moon, from Monday March 17, to Friday March 21, as well as the following Monday and Tuesday.

It is during this phase that the growth of the root system is given priority. The root mass increases and this also aids absorption of nutrients from the soil. Between the planting of leafy and the root vegetables there is a week – and in that week the major activity is harvesting, trimming and weeding; all activities that tidy up and make space for new crops. The lunar logic is certainly sound.