First Nations communities didn’t have calendars so to speak and relied on moon cycles to dictate certain aspects of their lives. One of these was Traditional gardening practices, undoubtably many other duties and tasks could be included but for simplicity’s sake we’ll just deal with gardening and the deer spirit, more on that later. In our last post we described how the monthly cycle of the moon can be split into 4 quadrants, each related to a certain plant type as well as one rest period. We can start with the Full moon.
Full moon is the time of the root. If you think of the waters of the Earth and the influence of tides, difficult to ascertain here in the prairies but influential none the less you’ll find a correlation between a “spring” or high tide and both the Full and New moons. The planting, growth and harvests of root crops should occur during this phase.
First quarter or waning moon is the time of rest. Rest for growing plants not for growing people. Garden maintenance, harvest and pruning for a whole week including tool construction and garden props such as climbing aids and digging tools.
New moon is the time of the leaf. This relates to all plants without a fruiting body or protection of their seeds by use of a pod. Leafy veg like lettuce, spinach and teas as well as grains. The new moon shows the way for planting and harvest for these types of plants.
Last quarter or waxing moon is the time of the bean. This category, the fruiting plants encloses squash and melons, beans and berries, anything that produces a protected seed. As the moon gains strength you should plant and harvest this type of plant.
Traditional gardeners live close to the land, know the language of nature and go all year round. The cycles of the moon provide a workable schedule that is used to keep tasks and tabs in line with the growth of the world around you. As we are learning First Nations knowledge is a deep pool an entire understanding of the complex relationships in nature, the perception of a simple cycle is quickly replaced when you realise that for each of these relationships hundreds more exist. All life is dependant on interaction and next post we will begin the story of the Deer spirit and how people can learn gardening methods from this wisdom.