gardening by the moon Onions

Best Dates to Plant – How Can You Know?

I started onion seed the 15th of this month, which according to the Farmer’s Almanac was one of the two best days to plant root crops.

All 10 jugs are on my washing machine on the porch. Day time temperatures there are about 55 degrees and sometimes when it’s sunny — 60º F. That’s about perfect for quick germination.

Starting Friday the 10 day forecast is for temperatures close to 50 in the day and at nights from 29 to 44. That’ll be perfect for those then germinated onion seedlings to go outside under the protection of my little cold frame. I may even add an extra layer of protection over the seedlings until they get stronger.

(To learn how to start seed without buying indoor lighting or a lot of other stuff preview my Secrets to Seed Starting Success here.)

The Southeast is suppose to have more bad weather the first of February and March. I won’t like the job of bringing the seedlings back inside, but I may not have much choice if temperatures get severe and stay there for a while.

That’s where I stand with onions at the moment.

Have you planted your onions yet (assuming you’re starting from seed)?

Do you take advantage of planting on days that will give you the best results?

How to Tell Which Days Are Best for Planting

Years ago, I remember talking about this with a good friend (and reader). She asked me about it and I said it’s called gardening by the moon.

Instantly she exclaimed, “I’m not into dancing around naked in the garden by the light of the moon!”

I was surprised, but I couldn’t help but laugh.

Fortunately, for us all (and maybe our neighbors), moon gardening has nothing to do with gardening by the moon at night — either with or without clothes.

It’s about doing various gardening duties to correspond with the phases of the moon that give the best results. It’s a practice that’s been around ever since people have been growing food.

It’s a very easy way to increase your success in the garden.

Especially easy since you need do nothing, but look at the Farmer’s Almanac to know when the best times are. It shows two months for free online.  And it applies to anywhere in the world. Just copy and paste this url into your browser.

Another Way to Get the Information:

You can buy a moon calendar.

Most of them are for specific years, so you’ll have to buy again for future years.

There’s one that’s perpetual and with a little care you’ll have it forever. It’s a few dollars more than some others, but you save a bundle in the long run.

Using it’s easy. “Align the new moon symbol on the rotating wheel with the date of the new moon each month & follow the recommended activities each day—“.

You can find the date for the new moon each month by copying and pasting this url into your browser:

A Little About the Science-based Principles of Gardening by the Moon

Any of us who have lived or spent time on or near rivers or the ocean know that the moon affects the tides. The closer to the earth the moon is, the more pull it has on the tides.

This pull also has an effect on moisture in the soil and in plants.

When the moon is in position to pull the water in the soil higher, it helps seeds to absorb water and germinate more quickly. It also encourages growth of roots and leaves.

You’ll find that your seedlings and plants in the garden grow more vigorously from a new moon to the full moon.

While the moon is “increasing” plant things that provide fruits that are above ground. (peas, greens, tomatoes, berries, flowers, etc.)

As the moon decreases (from full moon to the next new moon) plant juices and other moisture goes to the roots. This waning (decreasing) moon is better for planting things that have their edible parts below the soil surface. (beets, onions, potatoes, carrots, radishes, etc.)

Those who are well versed in moon gardening, recommend that no planting work be done on the days of the new moon or the full moon.

Suppose Nature’s Best Time is Not Your Best Time

It can happen that the weather might not be suitable for planting. Obviously you can’t plant during a hurricane, blizzard, or other severe weather.

And what if your schedule won’t allow you to plant on the best days?

Then plant when you can. Better to plant than not plant.

It just gives you that extra edge if you’re able to plant at the “best” times.

Final Thoughts

If you’re into working with nature, planting by the moon is an excellent strategy to have.

The closer you get to following her lead, the more successful you’ll be.


  • Thank you, Theresa.
    My aunt always planted by the moon and always had great results. I wish I had paid more attention to her gardening techniques.
    Your explanation is the best I’ve heard. It makes sense.
    Nights here in the Black Hills (and some days!) have been well below zero, as much as 17 below. I dare say, however, that your weather, while not as cold as here, has not been good the past few weeks.
    This is the year I actually work on my garden in a dedicated fashion.
    Wish me luck!

  • My parents in southern Ontario never put anything into the ground before May 24 and it always worked well. I used that date for many years with success but the past 5 years or so nothing seems sure. I’ve been starting my seeds earlier each year because I really have no idea when it’s safe so I plant everything in plastic covered tunnels as soon as ground temps say I can and depend on protecting them when a bad time comes. It’s been a good time for learning how to deal with uncertain weather and I see the time when I will have much earlier crops than my folks ever envisioned. I also find that learning more about plants and how they work and/or like has contributed greatly. As always, thanks for your help.

    Ray Kent

  • Theresa,
    Thanks for the reminder of the Farmers almanac. I tend to forget many of the finer details of gardening life. I already planted some of my onion seed a variety that takes 130 days to mature. I am planning to start more onion seed soon with a variety that requires 115 days to mature.
    The first planting was on the 4th of Jan. it is relentlessly cold here in Kansas City area. We have gone primarily from very warm to very cold 2-3 times this winter. I do have the luxury of a small greenhouse but it is not auxiliary heated all I get is the sun which in most circumstances is more than enough except on cloudy and extreme cold days and nights.
    AS always I am excited about the prospects of my garden and getting your blogs this year.
    Here’s the hopes that all your followers and you will have the most productive gardens of your life this growing season.
    I look forward to sharing and getting shared information that is always very helpful.

  • Frank, the cold has been much more severe than what we’re use to. Usually if it gets in the single digits or teens it doesn’t stay there long and we’re fine. But those temperatures stayed around and it was a bit scary.

    And of course, I do wish you great success in your garden this year! I know you will do well.

    Glad you thought my explanation was good.
    But when I received an email from a reader asking me if that was how I planted and then I read Ray‘s email talking about the time to plant — as in starting the season — I realized I may not have been as clear as I thought.

    And yes, I plant by the moon cycles 99% of the time.

    Ray – thank you for that posting!
    You spoke of the date to plant — meaning the start of the planting season.
    I should have been more clear in the post that I was speaking of dates to plant after the season starts in one’s area.
    For example — somewhere in the world one could have possibly planted at the end of December 2017, but it would definitely not have been at my house since we were having severe cold AND
    it was too early for me to start seed inside. January starts inside seed germinating for me.

    Hope that clarifies for those who misunderstood.

    And Ray, I think many have experienced very unusual weather patterns over the past several years. (5 years sounds about right for here also) I think all of us will learn a lot because of it.

    Steve, glad you got those onion seeds started.
    I think you may find that you do better without auxiliary heat in your greenhouse.
    If you feel you need a little extra protection for your onion seedlings in severe cold, cover the with some row cover fabric. Maybe even two or three layers.

    Thanks for the good wishes. I return the same to you. I know you will do great!


  • Theresa~

    What an informative post. I have tried feebly to understand planting by the moon. I haven’t mastered it…
    Thank you for bringing a little more clarity.

  • Toni, even though it’s nice to really understand, it’s not necessary for success. Just go to the Farmer’s Almanac and plant on the days that it gives for the days to plant.
    That’s what I do.
    Do you already do that?

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