Gardening by the Moon Through the Years

Gardening by the Moon has changed a lot since Caren Catterall’s first 20 page woodcut calendar in 1998! From a single version created for her friends and neighbors in northern California, to today’s 32 page lunar almanac & planting guide with its multitude of season, time zone, and format options, take a little tour through Gardening by the Moon history.

covers, 1998 to now

some calendar spreads from over the years

The 20 page 1998 calendar was printed from woodcuts in silver ink on purple paper and included a four page introduction to lunar planting but no monthly activities. There is a lunar transit across the bottom of the calendar days but it is not yet marked with the hours.

The 28 page 2000 calendar was illustrated using collograph prints, printed entirely with blue ink, and priced at $10 even. Still calculated for a northern California climate, it had a two page introduction to lunar planting and the basic format we use today. The monthly activities (called “Garden Chores” at this time) are abbreviated compared to today’s calendar, but you can see where the publication is heading. Planting lists, broken up into vegetables and flowers, are included.

The 2008 calendar is the next complete calendar in our archive after 2000, and a lot has changed in 8 years! The 28 page calendar is four dollars more expensive at $13.95 and features a very official looking barcode as well as full color printing on the top art pages. The lunar transit bar now has vertical hashmarks to show the hours. At this point the calendar is available in the same three season lengths we offer today and has the first version of the season length map on the back cover. The text of the two page introduction to lunar planting won’t change again until 2023.

Caren’s last Gardening by the Moon! Maxx and I are so grateful to her for trusting us to carry this great project forward, to help all of you plant by the signs and to bring lunar gardening to new gardeners.

Maxx’s and my first calendar—it was quite a slog! Not only did we have some trouble transferring files properly from Caren’s computer to Maxx’s, but we got incredibly ill for three months right in the middle of making and editing the calendar. But we got through it together and although we didn’t want to change too much right off the bat we did make a few additions and improvements, some of which are:

  • lightened calendar background to improve readability
  • rewrote intro to lunar planting
  • added Central Time and mobile-friendly download options
  • introduced fully recyclable calendar & shipping materials
  • added information specific to seedsaving and herb gardening to monthly and daily activities
  • corrected errors in planting lists and daily activities
  • drew new season map based on updated frost date data
  • union printed in the US!

Now that we know the ropes a bit better, we wanted to go all-out and bring you the best calendar we could possibly make. A labor of love (and many, many hours of cross-referencing spreadsheets and books), the 2024 calendar is longer than ever at THIRTY TWO pages, every one of them full-color, recycled, recyclable, and sporting a silk coating which enhances image quality and increases paper durability—and takes all manner of writing utensils, from colored pencils to ballpoints to permanent markers, beautifully.

  • brought full color printing to bottom calendar grid pages and brand-new moon phase and eclipse art to each day
  • added recyclable coating to paper to increase durability and image quality
  • expanded planting lists and added “Herbs” category
  • fixed spreadsheet errors to increase accuracy of transit times (thank you James!)
  • incorporated a three-step editing process into our yearly workflow, greatly reducing typos and other mistakes
  • added to-the-minute times for moon entering and exiting signs
  • removed recommendations for petroleum products in monthly activity lists & replaced with earth-friendly practices
  • added new monthly activities, especially to Short and Medium Seasons
  • added seed story or other plant ID to each month
  • NEW six-page introduction to lunar planting

Price Changes Over Time

Even though sometimes it feels like 1998 was last week, it’s been nearly 30 years—and three recessions—that Gardening by the Moon has been in print! And inflation, of course, is relentless.

From 2000 to 2022, the price rose less than six dollars, and Maxx and I are proud to carry on Caren’s budget-friendly tradition, and are committed to bringing you a information-dense, high-quality product at the lowest price we can. Unfortunately the calendar we inherited in 2022 was losing money year over year. We decided to keep the price the same for our first year at the helm, but in February 2023 as we began the wholesale process for the 2024 calendar, we had to raise the price to $19.95.

Chart showing price rise of $10 to $19.95 over 30 years

We hate doing price hikes and hope not to do another for quite some time. We don’t plan on doing such a big one again, ever. You can see from the chart above that Caren barely moved the price at all from 2008 to 2022, something I really appreciated when I was her customer! And from the chart below, you can see the price of paper has risen 25% in the last 2 years alone, to say nothing of the price of fuel, shipping, postage, insurance, utilities, computer equipment, research, and everything else that goes into creating, printing, and delivering a calendar of this type.

Chart showing price of paper per ton from 1998 to 2023. It looks to have roughly doubled in that time.

Maxx and I spent hours in meetings debating the price change—Maxx insistent that we had to have something to show for all our hard work, me just as insistent that raising prices while everyone is dealing with skyrocketing grocery bills is mean, Maxx reasonably pointing out that we too have grocery bills, and so on—but what finally decided me was just… looking around at other calendars. Plenty of garden calendars with JUST plant photography cost $20. We have gorgeous plant photography, of course, but along with that we bring you gardening information. Hours and hours of work each year go into calculating lunar transits and providing daily gardening recommendations for each of the three different season lengths, bringing you the best, most accurate, most extensive lunar almanac and garden planting guide available anywhere in the US today.