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Moon phases have impact on gardening

Ahhh, warmer weather and rain have been replacing snow, causing daffodils to bloom around the county. This must mean spring is on its way. Accompanying spring is, of course, spring planting. What does that have to do with astronomy? Well, that’s what I hope to share with you today. I have heard my parents and grandparents talk about planting “by the signs” but I never fully understood it.
According to the Ohio State University Extension: Planting by the signs is a fairly straight-forward operation. You plant above ground crops such as lettuce, peas, tomatoes, etc. when the moon is waxing (growing) from New to Full Moon. 
Underground crops (beets, radishes, carrots, potatoes, etc.) are planted when the moon is waning from Full to New Moon.  However, true gardening by the signs is a little more complicated. 
The lunar month is divided into four phases or quarters. The light of the moon is the 14 day period (first and second quarters) when the moon is growing from the New Moon to the Full Moon. The dark of the moon (third and fourth quarters) is the following 14 days – from the full moon to the next New Moon. 
On its 29-day journey around the earth, the moon passes through all twelve signs of the zodiac. These signs are divided into four broad elemental groups: either Water, Earth, Air, or Fire.  These signs classified as Water or Earth signs are generally considered optimal for planting and pruning for growth. Air and Fire signs are classified as barren signs and are generally suitable for weeding, tilling the soil, and pruning for control of growth.  
So what are these phases and signs used for? Prepare the soil and cultivate during barren signs. Always fertilize during a fruitful sign. Plant crops that produce above ground in the light of the moon. Plant crops that produce underground, such as potatoes, by the dark of the moon.
But this leaves one part unexplained – what about when farmers talk about planting in the feet and the head? Should I push the seeds in with my toes? Stand on my head after planting? Thankfully the answer to those questions is “no.” The phrases “in the feet,” “in the arms” and “in the head” refer to the zodiac signs. There are 12 signs of the zodiac each in force for at least two days every month, and sometimes three to fill out the 30- or 31-day months other than February. 
The signs start at the head (Aries) and work their way down the body to the feet (Pisces) and then start over again in a continuous cycle. And, remember it adds up to 28 days, so the signs don’t fall on the same day each month. One month may end with Aries (the head) ruling and the next one begin with Pisces (the feet) in force. 
Each sign “governs” a part of the body. Most have discovered there are four signs particularly suited for all kinds of planting: Scorpio, Pisces, Taurus, and Cancer. You can remember the four with the acronym: Signs Plant Thick Crops. 
Beans and peas should be planted in Gemini (the arms) during the light of the moon. The sign rules the arms and beans are supposed to grow “as long as your arms.” Aries (the head) and Leo (the heart) are killing signs. No planting should occur on days falling under the influence of these signs, they should be reserved for killing, deadening or cultivating. 
Virgo (the bowels) and Libra (the forearms or reins) are flowering signs. If you want to plant flowers for the blooms, do it when these signs are in force. Avoid planting vegetables in Virgo or Libra since they spend more time blooming than setting fruit, unless it’s the blooms you’re eating. 
Please keep in mind that phases and signs do not – and make no pretense to – replace good gardening practices. You still must pay attention to weather reports, soil temperatures and moisture levels, days to maturity on packages, last and first frost dates. If you follow phases and signs judiciously, say, and don’t cultivate your garden, it will be a failure.
Each plant or seed has an air and soil temperature it loves. Find that out and plant accordingly – in the right phase and sign – and with proper care you (or the deer!) will be richly rewarded! For more information you can also visit www.plantingbythesigns.net.