Gardening by the moon

April 27, 2009 by  
Filed under At Home, Food & Nutrition


Not actually by moonlight, but using the phases of the moon. Something old and gnarled countrymen – actually my previous landlord in Burwash’s very old gardener – have been doing this for years, as have herbalists who gather plants at certain moon phases. However, it’s not something you would associate with a couple of our major food retailers – Tesco and M&S. It’s certainly something that you might want to investigate if you do any growing of your own vegetables, or fruit and flowers for that matter, and it uses something called the biodynamic calendar.

It divides days into roots, leaves, fruit and the senior product development manager at Tesco no less definitely gives it credence. For instance, if he is organizing a wine tasting he avoids root and leaf days and has it on a fruit day. Although risking sounding like an old hippie, he is very clear that if he that wine tasting on a root day then it alters the taste of the wine, making it worse, but if it is on a fruit day it tastes at its best. Nor is he alone as M&S wine buyer Jo Ahearne, said this week that “We swear by lunar cycles at M&S.”

As they are in business to make a profit, you have to give them credit for admitting to something which sounds odd – but that they definitely see a benefit to. To give you a heads up, this week Thursday and Friday are the days best for attending to fruit plants, (including tomatoes) and Saturday and Sunday are root days so good for root vegetables and apparently composting as well.

Where do the phases of the moon fit in? Well, the waning moon draws energy downwards and inwards, so a good time for planting whereas a waxing moon draws energy upwards and outwards, which is a better time for harvesting and picking. To save you gazing at the night sky and wondering, there is a very handy website which gives you each month the moon phases and biodynamic calendar. If it comes up in German – as it did when I went online – you just click English and then the white button next to it which resets it. The German word for reset isn’t in my vocabulary – but eventually I worked out that’s what it meant:

Given up smoking? Take up gardening!

If you know anyone who has recently given up smoking, or is thinking of doing so, then there is some great news on a really substantial benefit if they will also take up a very specific form of physical exercise. Former smokers can decrease their risk of developing lung cancer by up to an amazing 45%, and if they also reform their diet they can reduce their risk even further. These findings came out of a study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research’s Sixth Annual International Conference in Philadelphia this month.

Researchers studied 3,800 women and men using a pairing system that sorts people according to smoking status. Therefore, smokers with lung cancer would only be compared to smokers without lung cancer, with the same pairing taking place for former smokers and those who have never smoked. Researchers compared those who had not developed lung cancer based on a variety of factors including exposure to secondhand smoke, dust exposure, family cancer history, personal respiratory history, diet and exercise.

The ‘exercise’ that is credited with this decrease in risk is gardening, because apparently that is one of the few activities that people with lung cancer report doing. So the former smokers who gardened reduced their lung cancer risk by 45% percent, while current smokers who gardened reduced their risk by 33%. Hopefully they were also growing their own vegetables because eating four or more salads a week reduced their risk by 67 percent, and for those still smoking who gardened and chomped on the green stuff they reduced their risk by 71% Time to get out the garden spade, rake and dibber and get planting.