I've been putting off gathering basil seeds, mostly just because I've been busy. But tonight is the full moon, and they needed to be harvested in the next couple days.
All those old gardener tales about planting by the lunar cycles have some truth to them.
There are two waxing (increasing) lunar quarters, and two waning (decreasing) lunar quarters. The full moon falls right in the middle.
During the waxing quarters, the pull of the moon raises the water table, and plants draw up water faster, making it a better time to plant.
The waning phase is better for pruning and weeding.
Some evidence also exists showing larger harvests among gardens planted following the lunar cycles.
Here's a quick guide to planting by the moon:
Quarter 1: The waxing phase that begins with the new moon is the best time to plant above ground leafy vegetables. Plants that respond well during this quarter include broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, celery and cauliflower. The water table is rising and the plants will take up nutrients and germinate quickly.
Quarter 2: The gravitational pull of the moon is less but the additional light theoretically aids leafy growth. Vegetables that respond well to being planted in this phase include those that form internal seeds like beans, peas, tomatoes and vine crops. The second quarter is also where vegetables should be harvested. This is when their moisture is at its peak.
Quarter 3: Just past the full moon, the water table is dropping and growth is slowing. This is the best phase for planting root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, beets and onions. It's also a great time to do any pruning in the garden that is needed. The cut ends will lose less moisture or sap during this period.
Quarter 4: A dormant period and no planting, harvesting or pruning should be carried out. This time is best used for weeding, turning the compost and other garden chores.
Tomorrow night, I'll be harvesting my basil seeds -sweet basil, Greek columnar basil, lemon basil and my new favorite, boxwood basil.
And feeling somewhat like a oldtime pagan out there, harvesting by the light of the moon.