Can the Moon really affect your garden? Do plants grow better when planted or pruned during certain phases of the moon?

Many people believe that the lunar phase can make or break a garden. It's called Gardening by the Moon or Lunar Gardening.

Native American tribes were hunters, fishermen and gatherers and well as farmers.  They observed the seasons and their natural surroundings and how it related to the phases of the moon.  They named the full moons according to what was happening in their region at the time.

The full moon names most commonly used today were first used by the Algonquian tribes of the northern and eastern regions of North America. When settlers first arrived here from Europe they learned the names, and their meanings, from the local tribes and we still use them.

Other native tribes, in what is currently the Pacific northwest and southwestern regions of the US, had slightly different names for the full moons based on the different climates they lived in. But because the country was settled by white men from east to west, the Algonquian names stuck with us.

The Pocono Mountains were originally occupied by the Minisink, Paupack, Lenape and Shawnee tribes, among others. {Before they were murdereded or driven out by the European settlers. But that is another story.} We recognize the Algonquian moon names because they did.

Many of our local municipality, river and lake names come from the original native names. Lake Wallenpaupack comes from the Lenape word walinkpapeek which means "the stream of swift and slow water or deep and dead water" depending on which historian you ask. Mahoning means "at the salt licks."

This site is dedicated to gardening in the Pocono Mountains. The word Pocono was originally Pocohanne means "river or stream between two mountains." My all time favorite has to be Mauch Chunk. In tribal language is was Machk Tschunk which meant something along the line of "mountain of the sleeping bears."

January - Wolf Moon

We don't hear them anymore, just the occasional coyote. But Native American tribes would have heard the wolves howling. The packs needed to communicate over long distances when hunting and you know how those howls carry in the dead silence of winter.

February - Snow Moon

February is traditionally the snowiest month of the year across the Midwest, upper Mid-Atlantic and New England regions. Global warming is changing that a little. Maybe we should rename this one the Ice Storm Moon.

March - Worm Moon

The spring rains arrive and the worms become more active. The Robins arrive as the earthworms start coming to the surface of the thawed ground.

April - Pink Moon

A pink wildflower called Moss Pink begins to bloom now. I'm pretty sure these are a wild version of, what we call today, creeping or ground Phlox (or phylox as it is commonly misspelled).

May - Flower Moon

Many wildflowers, and weeds, bloom around this time. Today many gardeners recognize this as the day after which it is safe to plant your tender annuals out in the garden.

It is a good rule of thumb not to plant annuals out before this date. But, as we saw in May 2009, you can have a frost after the Flower Moon.

June - Strawberry Moon

Strawberries ripen at this time. I doubt that they really called this "strawberry" though.

I have located a couple of different stories of how strawberries got their name.

  • Farmers add straw to mulch them & keep the berries clean and off of the ground. So we call the Strawberries.
  • The name was originally "Strewberries" because they looked as if they were strewn on the ground. The name then evolved into Strawberry because of changing pronunciation and speech patterns.

We know that the Naragansett tribe called them wuttahimneash (I apologize if that is spelled incorrectly) which means heart seed berry. So, originally it was most likely the Wuttahimneash Moon.

July - Buck Moon

The baby deer have been born and the herds have plenty to eat, both in and out of your yard. The bucks, male deer, begin to develop antlers at this time.

They start out covered in brown velvet and as they harden, the bucks will scratch them on trees and the velvet sloughs off. So sometimes you will see them with what looks like brown garland hanging from their antlers.

August - Sturgeon Moon

Sturgeon, a large fish that was commonly fished by native tribes in the Great Lakes and the Detroit, Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. Apparently August is prime sturgeon fishing time.

September - Harvest Moon

The main crops grown by native tribes, corn, beans, sunflower seeds and squash, were harvested at this time. Some believe that they harvested well into the night by the light if the full Harvest Moon.

Most people are under the impression that the Harvest Moon occurs in October. With modern farming practices, season extenders and selective plant breeding more harvesting occurs in October now than before.

October - Hunter's Moon

All the game animals would be at their largest during this time. They have had a whole summer and fall of eating their full. Now was when large hunting parties of Native Americans would track and hunt deer, bear and small game animals for food and skins to sustain them during the dark, winter months.

November - Beaver Moon

While the water still flowed, tribesmen set traps for Beaver. By now the cold weather had given the Beavers a lush coat of protective fur. Once the rivers and ponds froze over, the Beavers stayed snuggled in their dams.

They had to be trapped while their fur was thick so they could be skinned to make warm clothing and blankets for the tribe.

December - Cold Moon

Does this one really need an explanation?

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