What are the lunar phases?
The moon waxes (increases) and wanes (decreases) over a period of about twenty-eight days.
This cycle from New Moon to New Moon is called the lunation cycle and is divided into four parts commonly called quarters or phases.
The best way to use lunar gardening techniques is to buy a moon phase calendar. Fortunately, so many modern gardeners use lunar planting, that calendars are generally available in good gardening shops in most areas. You can also buy then on-line. Other sources for Moon phase information are the weather page of your local newspaper, almanacs and gardening magazines.
FIRST QUARTER: The first quarter/phase begins at New Moon. Many calendars will show it as a blackened moon (dead moon) indicating that there is no moonlight to be seen on the first night since the moon lies between the earth and the sun. The New Moon is waxing and is a time for new beginnings that favour personal growth and in the garden it is time for germination. The Earth begins to breathe in.
SECOND QUARTER: The second quarter/phase starts about seven-plus days after the New Moon and ends with the Full Moon. The sun and moon are ninety degrees apart. The waxing powers of the moon are especially strong at this time – more births come into this world during this phase. This is the best quarter for planting tomatoes.
THIRD QUARTER: The third quarter/phase begins at Full Moon – the moon has covered half of its journey around the Earth. This is when the sun and moon are opposite and sunlight shines fully on the moon. Calendars often indicate this day as white full moon. The Full Moon stands for illumination, completion and unrest. Fertilize (organic) during the 3rd or 4th quarter when the moon is in a water sign.
FOURTH QUARTER: The fourth quarter/phase begins halfway (about twenty-one days into the lunation cycle) between the Full Moon and next New Moon. The sun and moon are again at ninety degrees apart and the waning powers of the moon are especially weak. This phase is a time of reorganization, reflection and riddling oneself of unnecessary things in order to make room for the coming New Moon. Cultivate the soil, weed the garden, employ pest management and remove unwanted plants.