ENID, Okla. —
The moon has four phases, or quarters, lasting approximately seven days each.
The first two quarters are during the waxing or increasing in light, between the new and full moon. The third and fourth quarters are after the full moon when the light is waning or decreasing.
It is believed the moon’s gravitational pull influences moisture in the soil. Planting by the moon is an idea as old as agriculture itself, based in folklore and superstition, but there are scientific observations to back it up. The earth is in a large gravitational field, influenced by both the sun and moon.
The tides are highest at the time of the new and full moon, when the sun and moon are lined up with the earth. Just as the moon pulls the tides in the oceans, it also pulls on subtle bodies of water, causing moisture to rise in the earth, which encourages growth. The highest amount of moisture in the soil at this time, and it has been observed that seeds will absorb the most water at the time of the full moon.
At the new moon, lunar gravity pulls water up, causes the seed to swell. This factor, coupled with increasing moonlight, creates balanced root and leaf growth. This is the ideal time for planting above-ground annuals that produce their seeds outside the fruit. Examples are lettuce, spinach, broccoli, celery, cabbage, cauliflower and grain crops. Cucumbers tend to prefer this phase, which is an exception to the rule.
In the second quarter the gravitational pull is less, but the moonlight is strong, creating strong leaf growth. It is generally a good time for planting, especially two days before a full moon. The types of crops that prefer the second quarter are annuals that produce above ground, but their seeds develop inside a fruit, such as beans, melons, peas, peppers, squash and tomatoes. Lawn mowing in the first or second quarter will stimulate growth.
After the full moon, as the moon wanes, the energy is drawing down. The gravitation pull is high, creating more moisture in the soil, but the moonlight is decreasing, putting energy into the roots. This is a favorable time for planting crops, including beets, carrots, onions, potatoes, and peanuts. It also is good for perennials, biennials, bulbs and transplanting because of the root growth. Pruning is best done in the third quarter, in the sign of Scorpio.
In the fourth quarter there is decreased gravitational pull and moon light, and it is considered a resting period. This is the best time to cultivate, harvest, transplant and prune. Lawn mowing in the third quarter may retard growth.
Information provided by Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service.