Lunar planting

Hunter’s MoonHunter’s Moon

As vice-chair of the recently formed Aldersbrook Horticultural Society, Jane Karavasili has been asked to present a talk on planting by the moon. Here, she offers some insight into her lunar experiences.

Once in a blue moon, hunters moon, blood moon. The moon is in our vocabulary, affects the seasons, the tides, the timing of our religious festivals and, apparently, even the taste of wine. The moon is vital to our survival, yet tends to be taken for granted. An orb we are so familiar with and yet know little about.

Are you, like me, living locally, and perhaps occasionally might glance on a clear evening in late summer at a gleaming harvest moon hanging spectacularly over Wanstead Flats? You think: "How lovely, why is it like that?" Then move on.

Fifteen years or so ago, I was given a book about planting by the moon. As a keen gardener with allotments to maintain I had never made a connection as to how the lunar cycle may affect what was being planted. All I knew was that crops might spectacularly fail for no obvious reason or, despite care and attention, just not thrive.

Out of curiosity, I gave it a try. If nothing else, the notion of putting plants divided into fruits, roots, flowers and leaf in at particular times of the month was useful for advanced planning. Over time, to much interest and pleasure, I found a higher rate of success with crop production and plants surviving even very dry summers. Of course, experienced gardeners, sceptics and scientists would say that this was just coincidence, good soil structure or correct planting, and they are correct.

But the theory behind lunar planting (or biometrics) is simple enough. The level of groundwater ebbs and flows, not unlike the familiar tides of the sea. A root plant, such as a carrot, is encouraged to grow down as the level of water falls. Conversely, a fruit plant, like a tomato, will thrive if the roots have easy access to water as it rises from below.

The concept of planting by the moon has been used for thousands of years and there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence of this being a highly effective method of growing. Like much anecdotal evidence, this has yet to be definitively proved by science. However, if it was good enough for my Ancient Greek ancestors, who am I to argue?

There are a number of variations to this theory and for the very keen, you can become quite an anorak! Personally, I try to keep it very simple, and when there is a big 'X' on the day of the month due to a partial eclipse, I have a break from the garden.

While undertaking research, I have been astounded at how vital the moon is to our planet's survival, and how little I know. I don't pretend to be an expert, just a keen plants person who finds lunar planting useful and would love to share my findings. You may even find an answer to why the moon looks like a balloon over Wanstead Flats.

Jane's talk will take place at Aldersbrook Bowls Club on 8 January from 7.30pm (visitors: £5). Visit

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