According to those who think the phases of the moon are a critical influence on gardening and other activities, a gardener should plant vegetables the following way: first quarter moon cycle (new moon to half full) –vegetables that are leafy, like lettuce, cabbage and spinach, should be planted; second quarter moon cycle (half full to full moon) - vegetables that have seeds inside like tomatoes, peas, beans and peppers; third quarter moon cycle (full moon to half full) -vegetables that grow underground like beets, potatoes, carrots, and onions; Fourth quarter moon cycle (half full to new moon) - don’t plant, but rather cultivate, harvest, prune and transplant instead.
However, the question remains: Is there anything scientific to justify planting by the phases of the moon? Will planting before a full moon really make that much difference? Those who plant according to moon phases say it only makes sense that the moon affects all sorts of things like the ocean and the land and so it’s only logical that the moon phases would also affect the water and soil a plant is growing in. There are some farmers who have been planting by moon phases for years and claim doing so improves plant vigor and yield. Wichita State University and Tulane University have reported that the phase of the moon could affect plants and seeds.
Despite the testimonials from varied sources, there is still no scientific data to validate that planting by moon phase will help the plants in your garden. Here in our coastal climate, where cold, wet spring weather often gives gardeners the chills, soil temperature, and moisture content seem to be of greater concern when it comes to planting than phases of the moon.
We have just noticed some of the new leaves on our pear tree have turned totally brown. We are worried it may be a fungus disease that will spread to other fruit trees and ornamentals in the garden. Can you give us any clues?
If the foliage on your plants looked healthy up until our warm temperatures in early May, then I suspect that the damage you are seeing is from the intense heat. Leaves will often lose water faster than roots can absorb it. In fact, water loss doubles as temperatures rise from 40 to 58 degrees F. It doubles again as temperatures rise from 58 to 76 degrees F. and doubles yet again as temperatures rise from 76 to 94 degrees F. In all probability, the scorched leaves simply could not absorb water as quickly as they were losing it in the intense heat.
Intense heat can produce a variety of symptoms in addition to scorched leaves. Depending on the plant variety, intense heat may also result in yellowing of leaves, wilting and even leaf drop. The extent of damage will depend on a number of factors, including the amount of water present in the plant leaves and roots, shading available to the plant, whether the plant was over-fertilized with nitrogen, the general health of the plant, and reflected light and heat from surrounding surfaces like walls and pavement. Even though some plants look totally scorched and appear to be dead, in many cases they will survive. Scorched leaves will eventually be replaced with new growth next spring. Other plants like perennials will continue to produce new foliage this growing season.
The most important thing for now is to provide adequate water to speed the recovery process. Make sure that sufficient water is applied to thoroughly wet the entire root zone. One of the best methods for doing this is to use soaker hoses. For prized plants and larger specimen shrubs, placing the hose on the root mass and letting the water trickle for several hours will also do a good job of soaking the root zone.
On a final note, remember that frequent, shallow sprinklings do little to alleviate drought conditions.
Our neighbor told us that since we had a large apple crop last year, we should expect a small crop this year. Is this true?
Occasionally certain fruit trees, such as apples, bear heavily one year and sparsely the next. This is called “biennial bearing.” The spring-flowering buds of most hardy fruit trees have actually been formed during the previous summer. Therefore, an especially heavy crop one year may prevent adequate bud formation for the following year.
Biennial bearing is difficult to alter or correct. However, you can induce a return to normal yearly fruit production by early and heavy thinning of the fruit during the year in which the trees are producing their large yield. WSU horticulturalists recommend that within 30 days after bloom, fruit should be thinned to leave only 3 to 5 fruit per yard along the branches.