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Savannah Thomerson
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I am planning/writing up a lengthy blog on this topic right now and wanted opinions from any and all who would like to offer them. We are from rural Kentucky and now live in another part of rural Kentucky and our families are very strong-minded about the importance of planting by the signs, or doing anything by the signs so it seems. Setting fence posts, cutting hair, slaughtering, and so on....


I'm currently doing a wee experiment of my own. I planted a polyculture a few days ago when the signs were in the bowels (this is apparently a big no-no) and I'm going to plant the exact same things in the same space when the signs return to the good parts and see if there's a noticeable difference or not.

It makes perfect sense to me as a believer of everything operating together as one living thing....but, yeh - I'm looking to get as many stories or opinions, advice, experiences, anything. I've read the stories from the folks in the Foxfire books and heard tales from neighbors, now I'm here if you've got anything you want to throw in...please do
 
tel jetson
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what signs?
 
Savannah Thomerson
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Heh


Constellations, position of the moon, and the like. You can google "planting by the signs" for a lot more info, though your reply is also good. I assume you've had fine success and do not use these signs!
 
tel jetson
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ah.  lots of cloud cover for long periods of time here, so the night sky is fairly often obscured.

the signs I watch out for are swelling buds, various species flowering, leaf fall, insect activity, evidence that rain is on the way, &c.  basically, clues from established plants or critters about seasonal changes and local climate.

astrology isn't for me, but to each each's own, I guess.
 
Savannah Thomerson
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Just last night, a local fellow and his family came by to visit. We were talking about planting by the signs (it's a very common OLD practice in these parts) and I was asking his opinions/experiences etc. just as I'm doing on this forum now and he told us a story about setting fence posts in the ground when the signs were bad and how they would seem sturdy as could be but weeks later you'd just be able to pull them right out of the ground.

My grandmother was also talking recently of how when she planted when the signs were wrong, the strangest things would happen with the plant wilting and/or it's roots coming up out of the ground and so on....then re-planting it when the signs were good and it flourishing and doing just fine.

Hehe ~ yes, indeedy - it's all very interesting to me. I never shut a door on anything until I mess around with it enough

Cheers!
 
Andreas Brevitz
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I think of permaculture as a science, or perhaps the result of ethics combined with science. I'm sorry if this will make you upset but I think you should seriously think/read about the science behind such experimentation, in general study the scientific methodology. I think you will find that your experiments are not scientific and that your conclusions will be shaded by the placebo effect. Really, what I'm saying is: the experiment you would be undertaking would not be a proper experiment. I tell you this in the sincere hope that you will redirect your energy and lust for knowledge into something that is worthwhile. And please remember that I don't claim to know what is worthwhile, my claim is that science knows what is worthwhile. This is my opinion and you asked for it! =)
Good luck!
 
Savannah Thomerson
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AndreasBrevitz wrote:
I think of permaculture as a science, or perhaps the result of ethics combined with science. I'm sorry if this will make you upset but I think you should seriously think/read about the science behind such experimentation, in general study the scientific methodology. I think you will find that your experiments are not scientific and that your conclusions will be shaded by the placebo effect. Really, what I'm saying is: the experiment you would be undertaking would not be a proper experiment. I tell you this in the sincere hope that you will redirect your energy and lust for knowledge into something that is worthwhile. And please remember that I don't claim to know what is worthwhile, my claim is that science knows what is worthwhile. This is my opinion and you asked for it! =)
Good luck!


No offense taken in any way, my friend! I value every individual's right to be human and (thank goodness!) we're not all the same I like what you said, actually. Thank you!
 
John Polk
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Personally, I do not believe in astrology.  I can understand how the phases of the moon, and alignment of the planets could possibly have an impact on plant performances.  I also know what effects weather has on performance.  Especially with annual plants, if I waited until the moon was at the proper phase, the planets were properly aligned, and the weather was right, there would be years when nothing would get planted.  Weather (which is a true, and well studied science) only offers so many windows in which to get your plants started with a reasonable chance of a bountiful harvest.

Astrology is based on hundreds of generations of observations and human interpretation of its effects.  There may be some basis for it, but it is all interprative, rather than based on proven fact.

Solar storm activity, fluctuations in magnetic fields, and many other phenomina could also play a role in flora/fauna performances.  When I feel the weather is right, I just go for it.  Maybe I'm not taking full advantage of all of the forces, but I am putting food on the table.

 
Savannah Thomerson
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Aye, I am in the same boat really... I see how it could possibly enhance growth, et cetera....buuuuut if you were to follow (like my grandmother follows) this chart put out by T.E. Black - there's only about 14 days of the month when planting is supposed to be successful.

But, as I said before, I love hearing different people's takes on things. Hopefully someone will read this who has indeed practiced this for some time and has personal feedback!

Cheers!
 
Vickie Hinkley
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I use the Farmers' Almanac online -

http://www.farmersalmanac.com/calendar/gardening/

My late husband used the book version - which also included "good weeding" days - which I swear was accurate!

Sometimes I feel addicted to it - wanting to plant on baron days because it's convenient but I resist. I would love to do a similar experiment - but odds are slim I'll get around to it. Will love to hear how the experiment goes. Maybe pictures?

I don't call it signs or astrology - as in "what's your sign?" Although I'm sure phases of the moon would qualify as astrology...

Farmers' Almanac: "Gardening by the Moon Calendar is determined by our age-old formula and applies generally to regions where the climate is favorable."

I used to scoff at my husband, but when I could easily pull weeds on weeding days that would otherwise put me on my butt, I became a believer. My brain, still wanting logic, explains it this way: If the sun and the moon, can move the oceans, then seems logical they are strong enough to move "mountains."
 
Tyler Ludens
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AndreasBrevitz wrote:
my claim is that science knows what is worthwhile.


In my opinion, science can not tell us what is worthwhile, because "worthwhile" is a value judgment and so it is subjective.  Science is a method for observing and trying to understand the world.  It can tell us how to study something in a more objective way, but it can't tell us what is worthwhile to study, in my opinion.   
 
Savannah Thomerson
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Vickie wrote:
I use the Farmers' Almanac online -

http://www.farmersalmanac.com/calendar/gardening/

My late husband used the book version - which also included "good weeding" days - which I swear was accurate!

Sometimes I feel addicted to it - wanting to plant on baron days because it's convenient but I resist. I would love to do a similar experiment - but odds are slim I'll get around to it. Will love to hear how the experiment goes. Maybe pictures?

I don't call it signs or astrology - as in "what's your sign?" Although I'm sure phases of the moon would qualify as astrology...

Farmers' Almanac: "Gardening by the Moon Calendar is determined by our age-old formula and applies generally to regions where the climate is favorable."

I used to scoff at my husband, but when I could easily pull weeds on weeding days that would otherwise put me on my butt, I became a believer. My brain, still wanting logic, explains it this way: If the sun and the moon, can move the oceans, then seems logical they are strong enough to move "mountains."


Spot on, Vickie. Spoken so very well, thank  you
 
Savannah Thomerson
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:
In my opinion, science can not tell us what is worthwhile, because "worthwhile" is a value judgment and so it is subjective.  Science is a method for observing and trying to understand the world.  It can tell us how to study something in a more objective way, but it can't tell us what is worthwhile to study, in my opinion.   


Agreed

 
Brenda Groth
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interesting stuff on that in the foxfire books..not sure which ones
 
Savannah Thomerson
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Brenda Groth wrote:
interesting stuff on that in the foxfire books..not sure which ones


Yes indeedy Brenda! It's the first one, actually. I've been reading the tales from those folks, too. It's just like talking with family, though....old Appalachian people
 
                        
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Neat thread.  I'm a young "new-age" farmer wanna-be in south-central KY this year.  A neighbor (~69 years old) remembers his grandfather telling him about the signs.  He has told me plenty of stories during downtimes (storms, heat, night) about numerous things- a definite correlation was with the fence posts!  This neighbor remembers as a kid his grandfather wanted a fence put in.  Well, his brother and he put the fence in, thinking their grandfather would thank them and be so proud.  Their grandfather thanked them, but told them it was useless to have done that work because they did it in the wrong sign, and soon enough it would be crooked.  This neighbor says sure enough, it wasn't long before the fence posts were twisted this way and that.

My teenage years I was very skeptical of astrology (as I knew it- "what is your sign?".  In recent years I've grown curious.  In relation to agriculture I feel it must have some merit.  Agriculture is a tradition learned from the ancients, and their various ways of understanding their world could be useful information in helping achieve success in practices we have inherited.

I don't have much more to add.  I wish I could say I have decades of experience, alas!
 
Jonathan Byron
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Calendar practices might be an effective way to organize one's life, even if there is certain overhead associated with them.  A calendar gives a structure to time, creates rhythms and the ability to observe patterns, it encourages certain thinking, observation, record keeping, etc.

But I think pedestrian factors like the risk of frost, soil temperature, and moisture account for most of our limited ability to predict success when planting. Focusing heavily on factors that ~might~ have a very very small role in germination and growth (or which might not) seems to be risky to me ... like putting too much faith in science, it can be just another form of pretending we understand when we really do not.

H Ludi Tyler wrote:
In my opinion, science can not tell us what is worthwhile, because "worthwhile" is a value judgment and so it is subjective.  Science is a method for observing and trying to understand the world.  It can tell us how to study something in a more objective way, but it can't tell us what is worthwhile to study, in my opinion.   


I agree, But what do we mean by worthwhile in this discussion?  Science cannot tell us if it is worthwhile to sit in the shade of a large tree and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the afternoon. But it can tell us if practices (like planting by the signs, homeopathy, magnetic fuel filter gadgets, etc) are effective, if they really do what some people claim.  And if such practices are not effective, is it worth our while to invest resources in them??

 
Leila Rich
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"planting by the signs" sounds quite out-there.
Planting according to the phases of the moon, not so much.
Over here, biodynamic farmers  keep a very close eye on the moon calendar.
As far as I know, planting at the right time makes a big difference.
I'm just happy if I get things in before it rains!
 
Andreas Brevitz
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Jonathan_Byron wrote:
... like putting too much faith in science, it can be just another form of pretending we understand when we really do not.

I agree, But what do we mean by worthwhile in this discussion?  Science cannot tell us if it is worthwhile to sit in the shade of a large tree and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the afternoon. But it can tell us if practices (like planting by the signs, homeopathy, magnetic fuel filter gadgets, etc) are effective, if they really do what some people claim.  And if such practices are not effective, is it worth our while to invest resources in them??

This is exactly my point. I don't think you could really put too much faith in science. Everything is theory, and if science hasn't figured a working theory out regarding planting by the signs and allignement of planets and such you would (hopefully) say: "Well, we don't know. Lets test it!"
There has been lots and lots and lots of studies about astrology. The scientific community has said: "No, thank you. It's not science."
And I understand what you say about subjective values. But actually, I think science COULD tell you if it is worthwhile sitting under the shade of a tree. Wouldn't it be a simple matter of a doing brainscans on people who were sitting there and seeing if they enjoyed it or not?
I believe there is no area in wich you can say: "Science can't go here." At least, if science can't go there, you can't either.
 
Savannah Thomerson
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kazron wrote:
Neat thread.  I'm a young "new-age" farmer wanna-be in south-central KY this year.  A neighbor (~69 years old) remembers his grandfather telling him about the signs.  He has told me plenty of stories during downtimes (storms, heat, night) about numerous things- a definite correlation was with the fence posts!  This neighbor remembers as a kid his grandfather wanted a fence put in.  Well, his brother and he put the fence in, thinking their grandfather would thank them and be so proud.  Their grandfather thanked them, but told them it was useless to have done that work because they did it in the wrong sign, and soon enough it would be crooked.  This neighbor says sure enough, it wasn't long before the fence posts were twisted this way and that.

My teenage years I was very skeptical of astrology (as I knew it- "what is your sign?".  In recent years I've grown curious.  In relation to agriculture I feel it must have some merit.  Agriculture is a tradition learned from the ancients, and their various ways of understanding their world could be useful information in helping achieve success in practices we have inherited.

I don't have much more to add.  I wish I could say I have decades of experience, alas!


Greetings kazron! I am from south central KY Fancy meetin ya here!

(Also - I wish I could figure out how to quote and reply to multiple people at one time, urgg)
 
Savannah Thomerson
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Ack...in response to the science discussion this thread has taken on: when I mentioned doing my own wee experiment perhaps I used that word too loosely

Obviously, the conditions are not controlled and therefore there's no way it can be a legit 'scientific experiment.' However, it's as simple as this: When I eat meat and dairy I feel like shyte usually - so I stopped eating them. There could be other factors that play into how I am left feeling, but I credit it to the meat and dairy. I suppose what I'm TRYING to say (ha - forgive me) is... if I notice some sort of DRASTIC difference between the plants (and the weather conditions have not been extreme) maybe I (PERSONALLY) will give it credit in my day to day life with growing plants. Clearly, I'm not going to run about tooting horns and saying "Plant by the signs! Plant by the signs! You are wrong if you don't! Grrrrr!"

Nah, none of that. Just a personal thing

Hopefully the placebo effect is not something I need to be concerned about as I am ENTIRELY unbiased. I don't want one outcome more than another, I'm simply a bit curious. I may not even complete the experiment, who knows.

But, I suppose what I was hoping to get from this thread was personal experience from folks relating to the topic.

Allrighty, off into the sunshine now, cheers!
 
Tyler Ludens
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AndreasBrevitz wrote:

And I understand what you say about subjective values. But actually, I think science COULD tell you if it is worthwhile sitting under the shade of a tree. Wouldn't it be a simple matter of a doing brainscans on people who were sitting there and seeing if they enjoyed it or not?



I guess so, if you think "enjoyment" equals "there is activity in the pleasure centers of the brain."  I personally think there is more nuance to life than that. 
 
Willy Kerlang
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The only thing along these lines I have ever heard is that one should plant root crops when the moon is waning and leaf/fruit crops when the moon is waxing.  I tend to be skeptical and to want good, solid scientifically backed reasons for the things I do, and I am always happiest when old folk tales or superstitions turn out to have a scientific basis.  In this case my research showed me very quickly that there probably was something to this for farmers who lived in times before irrigation became a possibility.  The moon "pulls" moisture through the soil just as it pulls the oceans one way and the other to create the tidal effect, and so, generally speaking, someone who simply stuck a seed or root in the ground and hoped for the best would likely see better results depending on how much moisture was available for growth.  But nowadays when all we have to do is grab a hose and soak the ground, this doesn't matter as much.

It might strike some people as sad that we've lost the old ways, and maybe it is... but I also like to remind people that back in the old days, slavery was common, disease was rampant, millions of people were burned as witches, and the richest guy in the neighborhood got to make all the rules. 
 
Tyler Ludens
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Willy_K wrote:
The moon "pulls" moisture through the soil just as it pulls the oceans one way and the other to create the tidal effect,


Does it really - that is, has this been scientifically demonstrated - or is it just one of those things that "stands to reason" ?  "If the moon pulls the oceans enough to cause tides, stands to reason it pulls moisture up through the soil!" 
 
                            
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It's not uncommon for people to stagger their plantings so that everything does not come ripe at the same time.  I mean don't plant all of your corn at the same time, but plant some each week or so.  If you go back and look at these gardens you will notice a corrolation between the weather and later growth--corn planted after it is warm will ripen faster than corn planted sooner but that had a cold snap--but no corrolation with planting by signs.

The one person I knew that tried to 'prove' planting by the signs works by stagering plantings just to prove it, didn't bother to water or weed that parts that were planted opposite the signs.  She 'knew' they wouldn't do well and so didn't waist her time on them.

Science can't always tell you why something works or does not, but it is easier to do a real experiment to show if something works or not.  Planting by the signs does not live up to the test.

 
Ben Walter
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I use the Stella Natura calendar...

http://www.stellanatura.com/index.html
 
Willy Kerlang
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:
Does it really - that is, has this been scientifically demonstrated - or is it just one of those things that "stands to reason" ?  "If the moon pulls the oceans enough to cause tides, stands to reason it pulls moisture up through the soil!"   


There has been extensive scientific research done on the subject.  Google Dr. Frank Brown of Northwestern University for starters.  He did a ten-year study, I believe. 
 
Tyler Ludens
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Willy_K wrote:
There has been extensive scientific research done on the subject.  Google Dr. Frank Brown of Northwestern University for starters.  He did a ten-year study, I believe. 


I have not been able to find a direct link to his research. Can you provide one?  Thanks.

 
John Polk
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Using science to either prove/disprove planting by the signs is unlikely to ever happen.  First of all, science has already dismissed astrological systems as mythical, and as such, unlikely to invest much time in studying it.  Secondly, if multiple seedings were spaced apart when the signs were favorable vs unfavorable, the differences in weather patterns that the crops were grown under would be sufficient to skew the results.

All that I can suggest is that if you believe it matters, then by all means, continue doing as you see best.  If you don't believe in it, just pick your weather, and get your plants started as soon as they can be expected to withstand the weather.

I hope that "both sides" have bountiful harvests, so that this question never gets answered.
 
George Lee
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....."RJ Harris, the head gardener at a private estate near Cornwall, England conducts his own experiments. Each year he cultivates a selection of crops in opposition to the best practices of moon-gardening methods. Crops planted according to the lunar cycle fare much better, he said... I've got a large area in potatoes. We've got some planted at the right time of the moon and some crops at the wrong time of the moon. The difference is so obvious and there for everybody to see," he said."

For the present let the moon shine brightly and the breezes of the spring blow gently, dying away from the gale of the day, and let the earth, who brings increase, bring peace. --E.M. Forster

Plants thrive in moonrock substrate as well. Check this. 
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7351437.stm


Peace -
 
George Lee
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Andreas Brevitz
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Well, I sort of feel ashamed this thread became so OT but then again, I don't. =) If there were to be an experiment done, you would obviously need to grow the plants indoors in a controlled climate so that variables like light, wind and humidity could be subtracted from the equation, so to speak. It would be very easy to prove this worked if you really wanted to. And bear in mind that one person making one study is not enough. What you would need for it to become scientific fact is several independent double blinded studies. You would then have to perform a meta-analysis, a study of the studies, and/or a systematic review to see what studies are up to standards and so on.

Keep in mind that I don't want to be a "bitch". I discuss this in a wholehearted effort to tell people what I understand to be the truth, I would like to see people do well and be well. I wish you good luck, Tyffdavi. I'm sorry I hijacked your thread!

If I were to speculate, wich we all seem to be doing in this thread, I guess the moon and it's position could really have some outcome to crop yield and such as it is a fundamental part of the natural systems allready. But I find it hard to see how the planets and stars could have an impact on the Earth. They are simply too far away. Note that I would not want to say if it is true or false (we need science to even come close to what is fact and what is not). I'm merely speculating at this point.
 
Vickie Hinkley
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Just for fun:

LIFE magazine - a minor blast from the past - 1963 - includes a lovely article on the Shaw of Iran. Pg 41 references Dr. Frank Brown..

http://books.google.com/books?id=lkkEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA47&lpg=PA47&dq=Dr.+Frank+Brown,+Northwestern+University&source=bl&ots=SDDduWWjEV&sig=7OaVp_hHh2WUJO2Y9ENqu6vMljI&hl=en&ei=y5vOTeSuKIG4sAPPsZGiCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10&ved=0CFMQ6AEwCTgU#v=onepage&q=Dr.%20Frank%20Brown%2C%20Northwestern%20University&f=false

Basic article on Lunar Gardening describes Dr Frank Brown's oyster experiment...

http://www.brighthub.com/diy/lawn-garden/articles/71509.aspx

RJ Harris book cover posted below.

National Geographic 2003 on Moon Madness {just kidding} references RJ Harris:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/07/0710_030710_moongarden.html


RJ-Harris.jpg
[Thumbnail for RJ-Harris.jpg]
 
George Lee
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If you've ever been on your open areas (on your farm) away from a forest environment you know the reflected light on the full-moon is immense. It's difficult to say confidently that the moon doesn't play a part in how your crop grows when you see such a spectacle.
 
                    
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tyffdavi wrote:

Hopefully the placebo effect is not something I need to be concerned about as I am ENTIRELY unbiased. I don't want one outcome more than another, I'm simply a bit curious. I may not even complete the experiment, who knows.

Allrighty, off into the sunshine now, cheers!



No such thing as being entirely unbiased
 
Paula Edwards
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It just seems to be very complicated to me. First there is the lunar gardening. This is easy and straightforward, I even don't need tables, just look outside.
But then it gets difficult. If I don't buy a new calendar each year, or let's say if I would be one of these oldtimers - how would they have known which sign we are in?
And then there are different methods, the Rudolf Steiner followers use a different  method and, I guess the Chinese, Indian or whatever culture uses their own method which is different. So what method to follow? And worse: we are Down under - do the same method apply at all? If I would look in the farmers almanach would I have to distract hours?
If the oldtimers used the method it is pretty sure to work they did not have anything to give away and they won't have followed nonsense for generations.
 
John Polk
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Why wouldn't they?  We have been killing our soils for generations with chemicals, and killing our weeds for even longer, despite the wisdoms that tell us that these are anti productive practices.
 
Peter Ingot
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My tuppence worth:

Maria Thun's work was scientific. Speaking as an agricultural scientist, her experimental design and stats are flawless. Either she fabricated all her data or there is something in this.

My feeling is that the moon has a significant effect, but it's not the only factor affecting planting, and not the most important one to consider.

IMO, when planting you should consider frost dates, weather, temperature and moisture of the soil and then consider the position/phase of the moon.

In a mild maritime climate, it may make a lot of sense to plant by the moon. In a continental climate where seasons change dramatically and fast, waiting 2 or three weeks for the optimum lunar date, might mean missing the week of dry weather for making the seed bed and two weeks of light spring rain and sun to get the seedlings established, which would probably outweigh any subtle influence of the moon.

I've seen people leave their tomatoes in the frost because "the moon wasn't right for harvest" and delaying tree planting till the bare root trees are in leaf to wait for the right moon phase.
 
Su Ba
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I normally avoid getting into these sort of discussions, because it's much like religion.....based upon personal belief.

But I shall go ahead and pose the question of my situation., just for the sake of thought and discussion. I live in a region where environmental factors can be significantly different over a distance of only five miles, the distance between my two farms. Planting according to the signs could result in possible success for one location while at the same exact time end in failure for the other. Quite honestly and realistically, I find that I cannot use the same planting schedule, techniques, and strategy for both locations. So why doesn't planting by the signs work for both locations equally well? Or does planting by the signs not apply to the tropics?
 
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