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Thursday, Oct 23, 2014
South Shore News

Gardening by the moon


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I firmly believe gardening by the moon is a good idea. But I have two problems. The first is that it can be confusing and the second is that it’s inconvenient.

Even the terms waning and waxing of the moon can be confusing. Let me try to explain. From the night of the full moon – the brightest – until the night of the new moon – the darkest – is the waning of the moon. That means it’s getting darker every night.

The waxing of the moon is from the new moon until the next full moon. Actually, there is some dark and some light in both. In this phase of the moon it’s getting lighter every night.

Gardening chores best done during the waning of the moon of which we have only a few more days until March 1, include:

• Planting root crops, carrots, radishes, potatoes and such, also biennials and perennials.

• Dividing your perennials.

• Spreading compost and organic fertilizer.

• Mowing your lawn to retard growth.

This is also the best time to kill weeds or to thin out plants.

Here are some chores for the waxing of the moon from the new moon to the full moon that will be best done after the next new moon on March 1:

• Planting above-ground crops, annual flowers, vegetables we grow for their leaves or their fruits, including lettuce, cabbage, beans, tomatoes and such.

• Taking cuttings from plants you wish to propagate. This is also the time for potting rooted cuttings.

The main inconvenience with lunar gardening is that sometimes we are ready to do something and realize it should have done in another phase and we don’t want to wait two weeks for the right time to come around again. Even further muddying the issue are admonishments like never planting on Sundays or the day of the full, new, first or second quarter moons. For the life of me I don’t know why. Our windows of planting time are too short and sometimes we’re too busy to bother even checking what the moon’s doing. We’re lucky to get the chore done at all, let alone at the best time.

You can garden a whole lifetime without worrying about the moon. But I still think that, if you can match your chores to the right time, it will help and possibly explain why sometimes certain plants root well and other times they don’t root at all, why sometimes radishes grow tall and not to root and other times you get lovely radishes with just a few leaves.

If you really drive yourself crazy, you can go further into lunar gardening by planting by the signs of the Zodiac. I have a long and fine book on “Astrological Gardening” by Louise Riotte on the subject. I’m still trying to understand the part about the moon before I move on to the planets.

Today’s pick is the tree of gold or golden trumpet tree, which is blooming now or will be soon. It’s one of the most spectacular of all our flowering trees. The large clusters of trumpet-shaped flowers and brilliant yellow on this otherwise leafless tree are a sure sign of spring. There are many species of Tabebuia. Most are deciduous, at least one that’s evergreen, and some with yellow, pink or white flowers. Certain species bloom a bit later than others. I started mine from a cutting.

Stewart, Florida, has these planted all along its streets, and they are a sight to see when in bloom. Unfortunately, the blooms come and go quickly. Tabebuias are related to the jacaranda, flame vine and trumpet vine. All need sun. They have high drought tolerance and medium salt tolerance. They are said not to survive heavy frosts but mine has never been even nipped and it’s been growing for at least 15 years.

Now’s the time... when some folks rake up and bag their leaves. In my opinion it’s better to use them as mulch or compost, but if you don’t want to do that, be sure to bag them in small enough bags and volume so you can carry one in each hand a good way. They get heavier as they take up moisture before the recycling truck comes around and those hard-working men have to heave hundred of bags. Be merciful and pack them lightly. Also, put them out near the street well before collection day. Sometimes old gardeners stop to get them.

Monica Brandies is an experienced gardener, freelance writer and author of 11 gardening books who can be reached at monicabrandies@yahoo.com. Her website is www.gardensflorida.com.

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