Gardening: Lunar Tendencies 

The nighttime is the right time.

Dearest Beverly,

How the neighborhood mocks me! They laugh at my charts, they shun my calendars! They think their fertilizer is responsible for all that growth in their yards, when the real source hangs hugely over their heads. The biggest thing in the sky! They mock the moon! The moon, which affects oceans, winds and plants. And sometimes people ...

Beverly, my secret success in the yard is this: Ever since that wolf came through, I have been gardening by the moon. Perhaps you know of it. The phases of the moon affect the tides in the seas, yes, but also the rise and fall of water in the earth. It pulls at waves and plants. And the other planets do as well. (Forgive my handwriting — my skin itches so!)

Listen: In its waxing phase, the moon swells in the sky, pulling sap and energy up into the leaves and fruit. Some say the earth is exhaling. When the moon wanes, the lively energies of growth move into the roots. The earth inhales. So there are waves in plants as well, you see. Little oceans of green.

And you can divide the month into lunar quarters. The first quarter increasing is from the new moon to the waxing half, the second quarter increasing moves to the full moon, the third quarter decreasing moves to the waning half-moon, and the fourth quarter descends into the next new moon.

Let me take you through a month of lunar gardening, Beverly. Don't be afraid. Lunar gardeners still garden during the day. Well, most of them.

The first quarter finds me peaceful under the new moon. The tides rise, seeds burst their jackets, and I focus on aboveground plants. With the waxing of the moon, I prowl around, planting crops that produce seeds outside the fruit.

The second quarter brings more moonlight: I can see the bite marks on my hand, feel fur on my neck. I plant crops whose seeds grow inside the fruit, I nurture shoots, and if I want my lawn to grow faster, I push the mower around with hands grown large and hairy. And then the full moon is unleashed like a pregnant belly in the sky! The tides are high, the light is bright, everything peaks, the cycle is balanced. And I try not to dig up everything with rough paws.

The third quarter begins the waning: less light for leaves at night, and moisture is retreating into the ground. All the sap is down in the roots. Now I start digging! I plant root crops and bulbs, I do my transplanting. And because the moisture is below ground, I prune above with claws — ah, shears.

My itches subside in the fourth quarter. I weed. I prune. I compost. I harvest crops and rest. If I want to slow down my lawn, I mow now with small, delicate hands.

But Beverly, there's more! The 12 signs of the mysterious zodiac play a part, too, for each of them corresponds to a planet that has an effect on the earth. Each of these effects lasts about two days every month. This is true! And they fit into one of four elements.

Water signs are Cancer, Pisces and Scorpio: best for planting. (Goodness, it's already dark!)

Earth signs Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn are tied to roots and transplanting. (It's quite hot in my house — and itchy!)

Air signs Libra, Gemini and Aquarius belong to flowers: a good time to harvest. (The moon, it's so ripe!)

Fire signs are Aries, Leo and Sagittarius: best for weeding. (Yes, yes, I must dig! I must run!)

Chasing my tail,


Ms. Lardner disappeared soon after, leaving fleas in her couch, dainty paw prints in her yard and a delicious crop of snap beans. Many questions remain about this strange case, but folks in the area say if you go out on moonlit nights, you just might hear a wolf howling practical gardening advice.




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