When considering where to begin to establish crops for harvest there are endless aspects to consider. Sun exposure, slope, and soil type are key details to examine before choosing a plot to plant. Once these aspects are in place, and taking into consideration the type of crop, it’s time to plant. But this too proves to be a bit more involved than you might have expected. There are many planting methods each of which include physical limitations, environmental impacts, and perhaps even the cosmos.
The first major distinction in planting methods exists between direct and indirect planting (also known as transplanting). Direct planting is when seeds are planted into soil in which they will remain in from germination through harvest. Indirect planting is when seeds are first planted in small containers, flats, or beds, and as they germinate and mature into seedlings and then to plants. They are slowly transferred to larger containers until they reach their final destination in a garden or farm field. Direct planting is most often used for grains, corn, cucurbits, and root vegetables, where indirect planting is most often used for more delicate and high maintenance plants like peppers, tomatoes, and ornamental annuals. While plant size does not always correlate to plant health, transplanting does give plants an opportunity to develop in more careful environments. Apart from transplanting seeds when they become seedlings, propagating is another form of transplanting. Potatoes, mint, and strawberries propagate naturally, with each individual plant being able to create more plants from the one. Others, like hostas and poppies, can be divided or cut to create more plants. Neither planting method is better over the other, but rather depends on the crop, your financial feasibilities, and the timeline for when you want to harvest.
Once you have decided the planting method, there are a few other key criteria to keep in mind. The first crops that can be planted in early springtime include greens like lettuce and kale, onions, potatoes, and corn. Next, crops like broccoli, artichokes, and asparagus can be planted. Once temperatures become warmer and more stable around May or June, most other crops like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant can be planted. Some cultivators rely on natural phenomena to know when to plant, such as frost at night or forsythia blooms during the day.
Another method includes relying on the moon phases to dictate which crops are ready for planting. Most sources cite the water content in plants being impacted by the moon the same way ocean tides are. So, a full moon would be productive for planting when water is being pulled upward. Sap in trees receding during New Moon phases offers some potential proof of this. Others cite the natural circadian rhythm in plants being tied to light from the sun and moon. Others still believe that moon light also impacts certain insects, and revolving planting around moon lit nights will impact plant health. In general, it is believed that the New Moon phase is productive for planting leafy green and flowering annuals, the First Quarter phase is productive for grains, grasses, and crops like tomatoes and squash, the Full Moon phase is productive for root crops, bulbs, and perennials, and the Last Quarter is not productive at all, but a good time to mow, prune, compost, or weed. Harvests should also be done within the Full Moon phase. Each phases lasts between 6-8 days within a month. While moon planting does have plenty of sceptics, the Farmer’s Almanac does use this type of information to make planting suggestions, and when in doubt the Farmer’s Almanac is a great place to start!