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Satellite technology? Gardening by moon phases

By William Terry Kelley
University of Georgia

While global positioning satellite systems are a relatively new technology, humans have been using information for years from one ancient satellite: the moon.

Farming and gardening by the moon probably goes back to when dinosaur bones were tillage instruments. Some still believe that it really works. But when are the signs right?

The ancient theory divides the lunar month into four phases, or quarters. The first and second quarters the make up the light of the moon, the 14-day period when the moon grows from the new moon to the full moon. The third and fourth quarters are the dark of the moon, or the 14 days when the moon goes from full to the next new moon.

Signs

The 12 signs of the moon change about every two and a half days as it moves through the zodiac signs in the night sky. Examples are when the signs are in the breast, heart, reins, bowels, knees, thighs and head. Refer to an almanac to see exactly when these signs change.

Leo is said to be ruled by the heart and is a barren sign. Cancer is ruled by the breast, a fruitful sign. Fruitful signs are used for such practices as planting. Barren signs are best for things like cultivation. Prepare the soil in the light of the moon and cultivate in the dark of the moon.

Why prepare soil preparation during the light of the moon in a barren sign? According to the theory, when the moon is growing, it will cause the soil to remain loose and easier to turn. A barren sign indicates a period when weeds are vulnerable and more easily killed.

Fertilization depends on whether you use chemical or organic fertilizers, but always apply it during a fruitful sign. Apply chemical fertilizers in the light of the moon and organic fertilizers in the dark of the moon.

When to water

Irrigation is best during one of the water signs like Scorpio (the secrets) or Pisces (the feet) and in the light of the moon, since watering also makes your fruits and vegetables grow larger. This may hold as long as there isn't a drought during the other signs.

It's best to plant crops that produce fruit aboveground in the light of the moon. Plant crops that produce underground fruit in the dark of the moon in the third quarter.

The first quarter is best for planting crops that produce seed outside the fruit and the second quarter for crops that produce seed inside the fruit. Avoid planting in the fourth quarter. Always plant during a fruitful sign like Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces, Taurus, Capricorn or Libra.

After you've tried following Earth's original satellite, then you can decide for yourself whether it will help you grow a better garden.

(Terry Kelley is a Cooperative Extension horticulturist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

(Terry Kelley is a former University of Georgia Cooperative Extension horticulturist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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