Since men peered from their caves in ancient times and noticed the changing shape of the moon, there always have been those who believed the moon has a profound influence on the earth.
Pytheus, a Greek geographer who lived in the fourth century, was the first to record how tides were influenced by the moon.
In the 1920s, Austrian philosopher Rudolph Steiner proposed his theory of biodynamic agriculture, that the water present in man, animals and plants is similarly affected.
This idea was further developed in the 1950s by Marie Thun, and some who study the topic today are continuing to develop the theory.
Some garden experts claim the seed of vegetables whose crops are produced above ground should be planted at the time of a waxing moon - the period of increase from a new moon to a full moon - while root crops should be planted as the moon shrinks back daily until the new moon begins the cycle anew.
These experts believe this practice will produce healthier, better crops as part of environmentally sound farming.
Others dismiss this theory as nonsense and lacking in scientific evidence.
For those interested in further details, the new moon in its first quarter is not believed to have much influence, but the pull increases as the moon appears larger every night. Tradition calls for the planting of leafy greens during this time when germination is said to be most successful.
Vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, lettuce and spinach should be started now.
During the second quarter, the gravitational pull of the moon is weaker, but the additional light is said to promote growth, and this is the traditional time to plant farm crops.
In the fall months, the second quarter is harvest time because the moisture in plants is at its highest.
In the third quarter, just after the full moon, the water table is dropping and growth is slowing, making this the best time to start root crops such as onions, carrots, potatoes and the like.
The fourth quarter is a dormant period when the moon wanes back to new, and this is a rest period for gardener and garden.
Santa Claus generously stuck "Garden and Farm Almanac" in my stocking. I suppose he expected me to consult it for the appropriate phases of the moon. Unfortunately, after several attempts, I am still unable to figure out the wealth of information about the phases and transit of the lunar cycle.
Actually, it is easier just to look out of my bedroom window.
But I did learn something about the harvest moon, which is the full moon that falls closest to the autumnal equinox and gives the farmer more light to bring in the harvest. In 2012, this will be Sept. 29.
The hunters moon is the next full moon, in October, and gives hunters extra light to do their thing. Oct. 29 is the next hunters moon.
I saw recently the space program is sending vehicles to orbit the moon and learn what is inside by mapping its lumpy gravity field from orbit. There evidently is a lot to learn yet about the forces that affect earth from the moon.
Maybe they could send someone from the Farmers Almanac along on the next trip?
Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program.
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