Robert Guyton writes from his forest garden in Riverton where he practices what he preaches – gardening-wise – and grows fruit, flowers and vegetables using nature as his guide.
The Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand can be relied upon if you want to know where the moon is at, phase-wise. They'll tell you, through their website, whether the moon is full, new, in its first-quarter or last and on exactly which dates and times any changes of state will take place. I rely on them to have accurate information about the pale disc that hangs in our night sky and exerts her curious influence over us, even as we sleep. The Society won't, however, tell you what to do in your garden in response to the fullness or otherwise of the moon – that's something I attempt to do through this column.
To ensure that I'm passing on useful and trustworthy advice to you, I consult various calendars that are purpose-made to assign gardening activity to the state of the moon. They make very interesting and sometimes contradictory reading. Some are painfully detailed and specific in their recommendations, others ethereal and vague.
I use as my main source of moon-wisdom a small but perfectly-formed circular "ever-lasting" moon calendar that I bought at our local environment centre. Once I've consulted the Royal Astronomical Society to pin-point the full moon, I set my circular calendar and away I go, round the disc reading off the best times for the various gardening activities I need to know about. For example, I see that over the remaining days of August I need to be toning-down my gardening activities from the intensity of the past eight days of the First Quarter phase, and preparing for the coming full moon phase which will begin on the 27th and last through to the end of the month.
I'll be using that time to look hard at my garden; it's form and structure, the aspects that are successful and those that need change, and making a date in the coming month when the moon suits, to ring those changes. I'll move shrubs, divide perennials, prune overly-vigorous trees and sow annual vegetables, but not just yet. If you are going to take heed of the moon and her influences, it pays to keep to the calendar and not act against its advice, at least, that's what I have found in my own garden.
Certainly, cultures past and present have tied themselves closely to the moon's passage through the heavens and across our skies and time-tested the claims that have been made about her influence on all living things. September opens on the tail of August's full moon, and that means a relaxed start to the month for gardeners. Once the full-phase has passed though, you can sow root crops, en masse if you're a carrot-lover, or more discretely if you are not so rabbity in your tastes.
The next eight days are down-time for sowing but not down-tool time, as the best thing you can do during the Last Quarter phase that runs from the 3rd through to the 9th, is cultivate. Prepare and groom your soil, so that when the
month is passed the half-way point, you can sow and transplant into those wonderfully prepared soils without pause and problem, thanks to that earlier work. It's the new moon, beaming shyly down on all of us over those days, giving us the conditions that favour the sowing of seed, so we'd be wasteful and a little ungrateful not to use that time for those activities.
From the 16th right through to the 25th of September, plant and sow, sow and plant. You'll not regret it.
If you care to take more control over your gardening by buying your own "ever-lasting" moon calendar, you can order one at the cost of $6, which includes postage, by emailing email@example.com. By having your own calendar pinned to the notice board, as mine is, you'll render me a little redundant, but knowing that my readership is up-skilled, I'll sail into more nuanced, less prosaic waters with my column, and we'll find ourselves in very interesting waters indeed, as the months progress. n firstname.lastname@example.org
It's the new moon, beaming shyly down on all of us over those days, giving us the conditions that favour the sowing of seed, so we'd be wasteful and a little ungrateful not to use that time for those activities.