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3345231197_4a21b7c54b.jpgWalking on the Moon

On July 20, 1969 Apollo 11 crew members Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first humans to walk on the moon.

With the 40th anniversary of this first moon landing currently in news, I thought it would be interesting to investigate what’s known about the effects, if any, of the moon on plants….so that you don’t have to.

(By the way, if you haven’t seen In the Shadow of the Moon yet, it’s definitely worthwhile viewing.)

Planting and Gardening by the Moon: Legit or Lunacy?

Some people firmly believe that the phases of the moon affect seed germination, plant growth and flowering.

The effect of the moon on planting times is stated as a matter of fact in such popular publications as The Old Farmer’s Almanac and books such as Gardening and Planting by the Moon 2009: Higher Yields in Vegetables and Flowers, and, of course, calendars such as The Biodynamic Sowing and Planting Calendar 2015.

Others, however, consider such notions as prime examples of “New Age freakery”.

But is there any scientific evidence to support the idea that the moon elicits such effects on plants?

A few minutes with Google leads to sites such as this, this, and this. Such websites seem to be long on folklore and astrology and short on any scientific evidence, except for occasional vague references to university studies (unfortunately with no specific citations provided).

The Effects of the Moon on Plants webpage does, however, provide numerous explanations for reported lunar effects on plants. Here only the citations are provided, but that’s a start.

Delving into the Scientific Literature

A good place to start turned out to be a brief review on the subject written in 1946 by Dr. C.F.C. Beeson (see ref. 1 below).

Dr. Beeson introduced the subject this way:
The literature on the moon and plants can be assigned to two groups: one comprising reiterations of peasant beliefs, myths and rules, both ancient and modern, and similar unsubstantiated statements; the other comprising experiments supported by numerical data capable of statistical analysis. This second group consists of (a) experiments mainly of the anthroposophical school, which demonstrate the existence of lunar effects on the growth of plants; and (b) experiments of professional horticulturists and foresters, which prove that there are no such effects, or that, if they do exist, they have no value in agricultural practice.

2171728529_1ed93d76e3.jpgThe experiments Beeson reviewed from the so-called “anthroposophical school” (a.k.a., Biodynamics) were primarily those of Lily Kolisko, published in 1936.

More recent examples of work from biodynamic investigators include, for example: Evidence for Lunar-Sidereal Rhythms in Crop Yield: A Review (PDF) and Can lunar cycles affect the taste of wine?.

Obviously, the biodynamic folks have an axe to grind regarding lunar effects on plants. So, I can understand why scientists may be skeptical of their results. (see here, for example)

But is there recent research (since Beesons’ review) from professional plant scientists (non-biodynamic) that have studied the question of the moon’s effects on plants?

Yes!

Next Time: Scientific evidence regarding the effects of moonlight on plants. (The information may surprise some of you skeptics.)

References
1. Beeson, C.F.C. (1946) “The moon and plant growth.” Nature vol. 158, pp. 572-573. (PDF)

Walking on the Moon – The Police

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