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In Greek mythology, goddesses called Moon Spinners gathered light each day to spin the moonlight down to the earth.

It’s a romantic description of the moon’s magical effect on Earth.

The moon — 238,900 miles away — is locked in an eternal struggle with Earth. Our sun creates gravity that keeps the planet and moon apart.

Tonight, the moon is in a new lunar phase when the sun and Earth are on opposite sides of the moon, and the moon can’t be seen with the naked eye. By Tuesday, it will be a waxing crescent moon, and finally, the silvery white “Snow Moon” arrives on Jan. 21, according to the 2019 moon phases calendar.

Gardeners have been moonstruck since humans first began digging in the dirt with a stick. For centuries, gardeners have planted, cultivated and harvested by phases of this celestial body. And we’re still over the moon about the moon, says the Garden Media Group.

It’s one of their 2019 trends and “more than just a phase. Connecting with the phases of the moon taps into our deep desire to be in tune with nature,” GMG reports. Trend watchers point to the moon appearing in designs for everything from watches to wedding gowns, and people once again are looking to the moon for the best time to plant, prune, weed and harvest.

Are these age-old beliefs superstition and old wives’ tales? Maybe, but the laws of gravity show that the moon causes tides to rise and fall in the Earth’s bodies of water. The moon also impacts plant growth through geotropism. Positive geotropism causes roots to grow downward, while negative geotropism draws shoots up to the soil surface. If you plant a tulip bulb with the pointed end down, it will right itself underground and send its shoots upward.

Dig out or treat weeds when the moon is dark — a waning crescent or old moon, or from the day after a full moon until the day before a new moon, and supposedly they will never return.

“The Old Farmer’s 2019 Almanac” offers these ideas for moon-phase planting:

  • Plant annual flowers and vegetables that bear crops above ground during the light, or waxing, of the moon, or from the day the moon is new to the day it is full.
  • Plant flowering bulbs, biennials and perennial flowers and vegetables that bear crops below ground during the dark, or waning, of the moon, from the day after it is full to the day before it is new again.

The almanac provides a chart of moon favorable planting dates for seed starting. Iowa is in area 2 on the map and the list includes: Beans, April 15-19; cabbage, March 7-20 and April 5-15; carrots, March 21-31; onion sets, March 1-5 and 21-31; peppers, April 5-19; and tomatoes, April 7-19. A full list is offered in the almanac.

These are general guidelines and seeding should be based on the average last frost date. The Iowa Last Frost Date Map shows May 21-31 for Waterloo and Cedar Fall.

There are eight moon phases, although gardening is focused on the four quarters or phases — new moon, second-quarter moon, full moon and fourth-quarter moon. The first and second quarters are the waxing moon, while the last two quarters are the full to waning moon.

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Arts/Special Sections Editor

Special Sections Editor for the Courier

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