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One for the vine: pruning and the moon

It’s sometimes starless here, sometimes bible black; and on those still nights you could hear an olive drop. At the new moon – as it is today, 20 January 2015 – the valley’s dogs will know it’s time to settle down on this dark night.

Our knowledge of ‘country life’ – in Ireland, England and Spain – is limited. We know what a goat looks like, can identify the odd flower or bird and would even recognise Bill Oddie if he walked past (here he is performing with Chris Stewart many years ago). But our understanding of how to cultivate things in accordance with moon cycles? No chance. It sounds a bit like…astrology?

Grape memories

Grape memories

Today, our gardener friend pruned metres of grape vines; it was the right moment to do it, following a waning moon. Everyone knows the moon’s gravitational pull influences the tides and, it seems, moisture in plants – the planting (and pruning) of grape vines at certain times of the year has been practiced since ancient times. New plants need gravity of a waxing moon to pull water up to aid growth while pruning after a waning moon helps stop, among other things, pests doing their thing on newly-cut canes.

This website sums it up well (edited):

The lunar month is divided into two basic moon activities: waxing and waning. The beginning of each process is designated by the new and full moon. A full moon occurs when the moon is 180 degrees opposite the sun, in position to receive sunlight over the maximum volume of its surface. A new moon occurs when the sun and moon are so closely aligned that it is impossible for the moon to give off any reflected sunlight.

Waxing occurs in the period between the new and the full moon; waning, the activity between the full and the new moon. The waxing moon phase is a good time to encourage plant growth and proliferation. The waning moon phase is a useful time to control plant growth and keep down garden pests.

Traditionally, gardeners have been advised to sow seeds at the full moon, perhaps because our ancestors discovered that seeds germinated more rapidly then. 

The waning moon phase is associated with harvesting. Over centuries, farmers found that apples, cabbages, potatoes and onions store better if harvested at the waning moon, when water content is decreased. Fruits or vegetables meant to be eaten immediately are at their best when gathered at the waxing moon. And tomatoes have been found to ripen most satisfactorily when harvested at the full moon, when water content is highest.

So, even though today’s activity was about pruning, we get the gist of it. [Update: moon cycles]


Getting the snip


If anyone gardens according to the the moon’s cycles, we’d love to hear from you. Does it work? And do you know Bill Oddie?

Related posts:

Making the cut – almond trees

Wisteria pods (photo)

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All about Granada, Órgiva, La Alpujarras, Las Alpujarras, Andalucia, Spain – tapas, history, local guides and more.


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