Astrologer Jane Struthers offers an introduction to lunar gardening, and tips to help you tune into the cycles of nature.

Are you a gardener who follows astrology? If so, you may be interested to know your garden could perform better if you plan your gardening schedule according to the path of the moon, through the zodiac each month.

So says astrologer Jane Struthers, whose latest book Moonpower offers an introduction to lunar gardening. Here, she explains the basics...

So, how does it work?

The basic principal is that the moon has a pulling effect on all water. This includes the sap in plants, which rises during the ascending moon and falls towards the roots when it descends.

When the sap rises, it's a good time to sow seeds; when it descends, it's time to do work that involves the plant's root system, such as planting seedlings, thinning them out and propagating by division or layering.

Lunar gardening tracks the 27.3-day sidereal path of the moon, which is its journey around the zodiac in relation to the constellations, not the path which consists of one complete cycle of the moon's phases, such as from one new moon to the next.

How do you work out which phase you're in?

The easiest way for newcomers to lunar gardening is to download an app such as Moon & Garden (iPhone and Android), which gives details of the lunar calendar and shows you what you should be planting and the jobs you should be doing at any particular time.

Where do signs of the zodiac come in?

Each sign of the zodiac belongs to a particular element - Air, Earth, Fire or Water. The theory behind lunar gardening is that as the moon moves through each sign, it transmits the energy of that element to the earth.

Whether you're digging the soil, sowing seeds, transplanting seedlings, weeding, hoeing or pruning, always do it when the moon is in the appropriate element for the type of plant you're tending.

Fire plants (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius)

These are plants grown for their fruits or seeds, including soft fruits such as strawberries, stone fruits like apricots and top fruits such as apples and pears, as well as tomatoes, cucumbers, chillies, peppers and beans.

Earth plants (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn)

These are grown for their roots and include carrots, parsnips, potatoes and onions.

Air plants (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius)

These are plants grown for their flowers, such as geraniums, violets and roses, as well as flowering bulbs and rhizomes. In the vegetable garden air plants include broccoli and artichokes, because their heads are flower buds.

Water plants (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces)

These are all grown for their leaves. Lettuces, cabbages, leeks and leafy herbs are in this category.

The idea is to only work on plants that belong to a particular element, or the soil in which the plants will be grown, when the moon is in that element. So, if you're just tidying up your greenhouse to prepare to plant out tomato seedlings, do it on a Fire day.

When should I harvest?

Harvest Fire element plants on Fire days, preferably when the moon is ascending, but not on Air days. Harvest root plants on Earth days but not on Water days. Air element plants should be harvested on Air days but not on Fire days, and Water plants are best harvested on Fire or Air days.

The moon's influence regulates the amount of moisture in the plants, so storing them at the wrong time can mean they will be either too dry when you eat them, or too wet when you store them. Make sure you check on the correct lunar phase for the best result.

Are there any times I should avoid gardening?

Don't do any gardening at least six hours either side of a new or full moon, and at least 12 hours either side of an eclipse, because the moon's energy is too strong and may adversely affect the plants and the soil.

Moonpower by Jane Struthers is published by Eddison Books, priced £14.99. Available now.