[Market-farming] ? about moon phase planting (Richard Robinson)

Richard Robinson rrobinson at nasw.org
Thu Oct 31 13:17:28 EDT 2013

On 10/31/2013 at 12:58:39 PM, Wyatt Jones wrote:
> Hmm since the ocean tides, a pretty powerful
> force, are greatly affected by the moon's gravitational pull I would have to
> dispute your claims here.  If the oceans are so greatly affected one would
> have to deduce that other elements would also be affected on the earth by the
> moons gravitational pull, not the least being the weather.  That said there
> ARE other factors you didn't even consider when considering how the moon
> affects the earth.  One VERY obvious effect moon phases have is the amount of
> nocturnal light apparent on the earth's surface. As the light decreases or
> increases it is not hard to see how that that would affect plant growth.   
> Saying the moon, and other
> extraterrestrial bodies for that matter, has no effect on the life forms here
> on earth seems very silly to me, one can argue the subtle elements of that
> influence but saying it has no influence ignores quite a lot.

Regarding tides, these are gravitational effects that are only significant in enormous bodies of water, due to the combined effect (and all combined in the same direction) of the moon on trillions of tons of water. Even bodies as big as the Great Lakes are essentially non-tidal: they are just too small. http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/gltides.html There are no tides in my teacup because the effect is dwarfed, by orders of magnitude, by the other influences at work.

As for nocturnal moonlight, well maybe, but the penetration of moonlight to a seed covered by a half inch of soil is going to very, very small. Any difference in light absorption by the seed will be dwarfed by the enormously larger differences brought about by whether it us sunny versus cloudy,for instance, on the day you plant. And since moonlight is just reflected sunlight, it's hard to imagine any important difference in the nature of moonlight that could produce an effect that could override the sunlight effect.

I think underlying all of this is that plants have had to evolve to cope with enormous short-term variations in their environment, meaning that seeds should be relatively resistant to environmental fluctuations unrelated to their most important needs: appropriate soil depth, adequate water, and appropriate seasonality. To say that a plant will do better in one phase of the moon means it will do worse in another. It's not clear to me what evolutionary advantage that sensitivity could confer, even if they were somehow exquisitely sensitive to some extremely weak (and as-yet unidentified) force. 

  Richard Robinson
  Hopestill Farm

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