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Italian Gardens and the Moon

How Italian Gardeners Use The Moon


time began human beings have been fascinated and bewildered by the presence

of the ever changing ephemeral moon that has been a constant presence

and sensual mystery in the night sky. From when humans began cultivating

their own crops they noted the subtle yet important effect that the

moon had upon the germination, growth and crop production of those vital


The Moon is the Earth’s only natural satellite and it’s close orbit

around our planet has had an intimate relationship with human’s survival

on this planet throughout history. Few countries can claim a more intimate

respect for the moon’s cycles and effects than Italy. Being a sea-faring

nation, with it’s roots firmly placed in the Mediterranean, Italy has

had to utilize the moon in almost every stage of it’s development. The

high seas were conquered using the moon and stars as a chartable guide

for calculating direction, weather conditions and tides etc…

A nation that has always had a very

close link with crop production, wine making and fishing has always

had to optimize those pursuits by utilizing every means at it’s disposal.

The early

Greeks had a very close relationships with the stars and the Moon, being

so close to the Earth, it was soon noted as having a strong influence

on almost every aspect of human existence. From the emergence of a seedling,

the movements of the sea to human behavior and reproduction almost all

natural occurrences are controlled, influenced and almost dictated by

the moon’s cycle. The word menstruation is derived from the Latin word

mensis (month), which also relates to the ancient Greek word mene (moon)

and therefore also the origins of the English words month and moon.

Even to this day wine producers in Italy do not risk harvesting and

placing their precious product in barrels on any but a waning moon,

as they know that the wine would only curdle and be ruined if they ignored

this rule.

New evidence suggests that even rainfall is dictated by lunar cycles

and patterns of rainfall are affected by the moon’s presence, causing

warm, humid periods, which clearly have an impact on crop production

and quality of life: http://www.springerlink.com/content/y863434183201m87/

Studies are now also taking place regarding a link between the moon’s

cycles and volcanic eruptions: http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/Outreach/AboutVolcanoes/do_tides_affect_volcanoes.html

In your Italian garden the moon can make a huge impact on the quality

of shrub, tree and vegetable cultivation. Plants producing their seeds

externally (like lettuce, cabbage, spinach etc) planted at the time

of a new moon generally do far better than those planted on a waning

moon, as growth above ground appears to be stimulated by the presence

of the New Moon.

A New Moon

However it is generally considered better to plant root crops that

produce their seeds internally (tomatoes, peppers, beans etc) during

the second quarter (when the left side of the moon is illuminated).

Whereas plants that produce underground (root crops like carrots, beetroot

etc) generally do better if planted during a waning moon.

The various phases of the moon

Every 28 days or so the moon completes it’s orbit around our planet

and, from the Greeks, Romans to the modern day Italian, it’s effects

have been noted for centuries. Isn’t it about time we responded to this

fact too?

By Jonathan Radford

Ecologica Jonathan Radford

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