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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about lunar gardening. The ancient practice holds that different plants grow best at varying points in the lunar cycle.


TOOMEY: Look up in the night sky this week and you won't see much moonshine. That's because it's the beginning of a new moon, a phase when the moon is almost directly between the sun and the earth and mostly hidden in shadow. Now, you wouldn't think this information would be important to a gardener, and usually you'd be right. But some gardeners use the lunar cycle to decide what to plant, and when. The theory goes that different plants respond to different amounts of light. The practice isn't new. The ancient Romans, the Celts, and the Maori in New Zealand, all planted by the lunar cycle, regarding the moon as a protector of their crops. Today, lunar gardening has become a science for some, who believe that plants growing above-ground, like tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers, usually flower best when there's more night light. Those that grow below-ground, like potatoes, onions, and turnips, can sprout with less. Whether lunar gardening actually works is still up for debate, but some theories involve the forces of gravity, light, and magnetism. In recent years moon gardens of another sort have taken root. These decorative plots are designed to look their best in the bright lunar light. Night bloomers, like moon flowers and angel's trumpets, are popular choices. They blossom like any other flower, but only after the sun goes down. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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