Planting by the Stars - Research
Across history and cultures planting by the Sun, Moon, planets, and
stars has been the norm, with shadowy vestiges lurking in our modern
Almanacs. The first calendar was probably written by Hesiod 800 years
BC. There is much traditional lore, some still extant, and more recorded
by the likes of Pliny the Elder in his massive History
of Nature, Cato, and
Bacon. Dr Rudolf Steiner inspired new work in 1924 via his lecture cycle
called the 'Agriculture
The most substantial work in the experimental tradition is the ongoing
research begun by Maria Thun in 1952. It is her work which, though inspired
by Dr Rudolf Steiner, departed from the few indications he gave, mainly
based upon synodic cycles, to pursue her own empirical findings. She
noticed the correspondence between the elemental assignment of the constellations
(earth, water, air and warmth) and the four parts of the vegetable plants
(root, leaf, flower and seed). Her publications can be found in the literature
section of this site. This has been developed in many directions - such as the work of Hans Bruinsma in Holland, primarily with potatoes.
Before Maria Thun's research, other Steiner-inspired research
was undertaken by Agnes Fyfe and Lili
Kolisko. This concentrated on the
phases of the moon (Synodic cycle)
governed by the relative positions of the Sun, Moon and Earth.
Since Maria Thun's work was first published there have been supporters
and detractors, 'popular' and more rigorously considered, who have made
their own trials and evaluated her work. Several of these are available
on the web.
Kollerstrom and Staudenmaier in 2001 reviewed both
supportive and dismissive research and concluded their paper saying;
"In the 1990s, discussions in print of the biodynamic
calendar in Europe, America and New Zealand, have alluded to the
experiments conducted by Spiess as having tested the Thun-hypothesis
and failed to replicate it (e.g., N.Z. Biodynamic Association 1989;
Llewellyn, 1993). Enjoying widespread publicity, and published by
the Forschungsring of the German biodynamic movement, the Spiess
results have worked to discredit biodynamic calendars.
It appears, however, that although the experiments were well designed,
this was not matched by a corresponding care in the data analysis. There
were two other radish trials, which Spiess performed in 1979 and 1980,
over 30-day periods, where in the first case yields increased by a factor
of seven from start to finish of the experiment, and in the second case
they more than doubled. But, in experiments conducted over only one month,
containing such large seasonal trends within the data, it is unrealistic
to expect low-amplitude sidereal rhythms to be detectable. The Dottenfelderhof
farm near Frankfurt, where the trials were performed, is in a quite highly
industrialized area of Germany, as could here be relevant.
While the Spiess sowing trials and methodology had commendable
features, use of parabolic curves to model the seasonal trend was
inappropriate, and the alternative here used of moving averages to
model the seasonal trend gave Y2 element-means of considerably smaller
standard deviations. Results published to-date suggest that the 'Thun-effect'
is a testable and verifiable hypothesis. The current analyses endorse
Spiess's general conclusion that 'lunar factors' may have a practical
significance for agriculture."
Hartmut Spiess, mentioned in the conclusion quoted
above, says in his paper,
'Lunar Rhythms and Plants':
Today it is known that there exist more than six hundred
organisms which reveal a link to lunar rhythms either in
their reproductive cycles or in their feeding habits. All
scientifically proven cases show a dependency upon the
rhythms of the synodic moon
or the cycles of the tides, which are governed by the moon. The following
plants, for example, respond in their metabolism to the lunar
synodical rhythm and are mentioned in the literature:
and water uptake in beans; root growth in beans and sunflowers; respiration
in potatoes, carrots, and sunflowers; growth rate in cress and various
wild plants; absorption of nutrients in Sudan grass and corn;
DNA formation in potatoes and formation of cytokinin
in seaweeds (literature survey: Spiess, 1994; Endres and
Schad, 1997). Recent findings show an effect of lunar
rhythms on the germination and rate of growth of tropical
trees. The percentage of germination and successive
rate of growth were highest when seeding took place two
days before full moon (Zuercher, 1998). Furthermore, the
magazine Nature published observations which showed
that tree trunks expanded and contracted in conjunction
with the cycles of the tides (Zuercher et al, 1998.) ....
.... Scientific Investigations of Moon Calendars
In the 1970s and 1980s several Ph.D. dissertations in Germany
and Switzerland, as well as results of experiments
made in Austria became available on the effects of the
In the majority of cases an influence upon plant growth could not
be verified (see Spiess,
The latest results addressing these issues come from
for Biodynamic Research. (Ext link) Systematically
controlled seeding experiments over several years were
undertaken at the Demeter-certified Dottenfelder Hof in
Bad Vilbel under varying experimental conditions, using
five different plant varieties with the intent to study the
effects of lunar rhythms on the growth and quality of the
selected plants (see Spiess, 1994).
The plants clearly responded to primary growth factors,
such as changing warmth, moisture, and length of
day during the course of the year. The effect of lunar
rhythms in these comparisons, lasting over several years,
could only be detected after a trend adjustment of the
results by way of polynomial regressions. The findings in
general could not confirm the advice given in the Thun
calendar Working with the Stars. On the other hand, it was definitely
shown that crop species responded to the moon rhythms in different
One can also learn from related investigations; Laurence
Edward's (ext. link) painstaking
research (The Vortex of Life, Lawrence Edwards, Floris Press, Edinburgh
1993) emerged from an understanding of projective geometry (Projective
Geometry by Lawrence Edwards, Rudolf Steiner Institute, Phoenixville
1985). Edwards wanted to see if Nature produces geometrically precise
forms. An early finding was that Mother Nature certainly was not slapdash
in her creation of, for example, eggs and buds. Pursuing this, Edwards
found that certain parameters in the form of such 'path curves' varied
over time whilst remaining faithful to the basic geometry. Plotting
the variation of this parameter over time for individual buds produced
a graph which revealed a statistically significant correspondence with
the relative positions of Earth Moon and one other planet. (Which planet
depended on the species being measured.) The phenomenon was a rhythmical
elongation and relaxation of the buds during winter, like a dance with
Dennis Klocek (Ext
link) has found that he can anticipate long-term weather patterns,
particularly indicative of droughts and floods. The meridional flow
of troughs and ridges of pressure, which bring equatorial weather towards
the poles and polar weather towards the tropics, correspond to planetary
alignments, and are principally related to a terrestrial projection of
the lunar nodes. From these points Klocek uses Kepler's work on
harmonics (45 degree and 72 degree) to plot intersecting 'jet curves'
which reveal the crucial sites. He is predicting a serious drought in
the USA in summer 2007. Let's see!
The following (and, indeed, much of the hard work of finding the research
on this subject) I have taken, with permission and gratefully, from the Planting
by the Moon 2000, calendar by Nick Kollerstrom;
Jagadis Chandra Bose (1858-1937)
studied the sensitivity of plants to minute levels of energy amassing
much evidence of responses to subtle stimuli.
- Bradley et
al and Addreley et al reported the results of 50 years
of rain fall analysis in the same 1962 issue of Science. in contrast
to the tides which peak a day after new and full moons, rain fall peaks
2-3 days later.
- The Earth's magnetic field, protecting us from the Solar winds, pulsates
to the monthly rhythm. It is strongest in the days following New
Moon. Bose showed the attunement of animals to these fields as demonstrated
by their growth and direction of flight. Birds use
magnetic field lines and star constellations for their migration.
- Thunderstorms peaked two days after full moon, and sharply decreased
after new Moon. (Analysis of 23 years of US weather stations records.)
- In contrast hurricanes and typhoons were 20%
more likely to occur after both new and full moons.
- The former editor of the New Scientist, Dr
Bernard Dixon concluded
that,'There seems little doubt that the lunar cycle influences the
life processes of plants.'
- Padua university demonstrated that growth as well as germination
reflects the synodic cycle. Giogio
Abrami measured stem lengths of various species, and applied corrections
for daily temperature differences.
- North-western University in Illinois demonstrated 35%
higher water absorption in beans just before full Moon compared to
new Moon. Confirmation of
this was attested by Dr Jane Panzer of Tulane University. Interestingly
these remained in a diminished form if the pinto beans were sterilised,
and further diminished by pasteurisation. Germination also showed this
monthly rhythm in her studies .
- Dr Harry Rounds at Wichita State University noted sharp
falls in stress hormones in men and mice (!) at full and new Moon.
Potency changes in similar cardio accelerator plant extracts were found
at the same periods.
- DNA structures were found using X ray analysis at the University
of Paris to change over the synodic cycle. A carbohydrate storage structure
was more developed at new moon and a flowering and growth structure
was emphasised at full moon.
- Over a million hours of potato oxygen-absorption (proportional to
metabolism) was monitored by
Professor Frank Brown. Potatoes and carrots were kept in the dark in
controlled temperature, moisture and pressure. The daily maxima were
at the Moons rising and culmination, and waxed and waned with the synodic
- T.M Lai observed potassium
and phosphorus absorption by corn seedlings. Phosphorus (root nourishing
and acidic) was absorbed maximally at full Moon and minimally at new
Moon. Potassium (flowers mainly and alkali) were absorbed minimally
at full Moon and maximally at new Moon.
- Harold Burr at Yale University School of Medicine recorded the
electrical potential in tree trunks. He found that fluctuations were
the same for all trees in a large area, and these were unrelated to
changes in the atmospheric pressure, humidity or weather. For 9 years
he then monitored a single Beech and showed the synodic rhythm peaking
at full and new Moons. This rhythm was complemented by a weaker sunspot
Oehmke in Frankfurt installed counters on beehives. Traffic increased
100% at new Moon compared to full Moon.
- At Lyons University, DR E Graviou showed that even apparently dormant
tomato seeds use some respiratory oxygen in controlled light and temperature.
the Maxima were at new and full Moon.
- The average length of the female human
menstrual cycle in 29.5 days.
The most common is around but 27 days but, overall, the mean is indistinguishable
from the synodic month. The average human
gestation from conception
to birth is 266 days, exactly 9 synodic months.
- Pliny told his audience to geld hogs, steers, rams, and kids with
Moon is waning.
- US studies of
1000 operations in one hospital. For all those which had bleeding
complications he noted the Moon's phase. Full Moon complications were
400% more than new Moon ones. Doctors in one German hospital will not
perform elective surgery at full Moon!
- Kollerstrom (Ext
link) analysed 14 years of race horse first 'coverings' (aka synods
or matings). Success clearly peaks at full Moon, around 10% higher
than new Moon.
- Kollerstom reports
the anecdotal experience of an Australian company's tomato harvest
which peaks two or three days before and after full Moon. These tomatoes
are fuller in colour irrespective of the weather in the preceding
- South American timber is
given a moon stamp with the phase of the moon at which the timber was
felled. Waning Moon timber preserves better and cuts more easily than
waxing Moon timber. French law from 1669 until the Revolution
required timber only be felled in a waning Moon.
- Podolinski considers
the hay to benefit from the same phase.
- Even Aquarium
trout reach peak weight just before Full and New Moon. Zoologists
at the University of California noted that Salmon swim down river at
new Moon to avoid predation - apart presumably from those informed by
- There is much more - see the literature if this is not enough.
If any of you have related work we would like to compare notes.