This past week weekend we stayed up past our normal farmer bedtime of 9pm for a the Perseid Meteor shower. The moon was new and the sky was extra dark which made for spectacular viewing. Each year at this time the earth passes through the dust and debris or the comet Swift-Tuttle which is the largest object known to repeatedly pass by the Earth; its nucleus is about 16 miles wide. It last passed nearby Earth during its orbit around the sun in 1992, and the next time will be in 2126. This week I'm grateful for space because when I contemplate it's infinitude it gives me a whole different perspective on my life here on earth.
As farmers we spend a lot of time with our heads down tending the soil. At the same time on our farm we try to tune solar and lunar rhythms and how they affect the growth of our crops. Farmers used to be tuned into this but many have left it behind in favor of technology and petrochemicals.
Fortunately for us we do not have to start from scratch and figure it all out. While we would love to do experiments, we simply do not have the time. There have been researchers who have dedicated a lot of time to experiments in the garden and we use the information they provide as a basis for our work. Its really exciting when you start to see connections between sky and earth. Of course we approach this work with a healthy amount of skepticism. Over time we can say we have observed concretely how seeding crops leading up to the full moon improves germination, yields and shapes of the vegetables. We also pay attention to the phases of the moon and their impact on the storage capacity of vegetables. We harvest our storage vegetables if possible between last quarter and new moon when leaf and root growth are both declining according to the work of Alan Chadwick. I think it works because for example, we still have shallots from last year in our kitchen...meanwhile we just harvested this years shallots.
Jeff Schreiber has been farming organically for 10 years. In 2011 he started Three Sisters Community Farm with his wife, Kelly.