New Continuing Ed course combines planting and astrology

On Wednesday, March 16, Wilton Continuing Education will offer a new course on agricultural astrology called Planting by the Stars.

Agricultural astrology is the practice of “choosing the time to plant and harvest crops according to the phase and sign of the Moon,” according to James R. Lewis’s 2003 book, The Astrology Book: The Encyclopedia of Heavenly Influences.

Planting by the Stars will be led by Nancy Powell of Westport, who became interested in astrology when she was a teenager.

“I wanted to know how anyone could know about me without having met me,” she said. “Then I found a few books written by well-known astrologers like Isabel Hickey and I was hooked.”

Defined as “the study of how the positions of the stars and movements of the planets have a supposed influence on events and on the lives and behavior of people,” astrology is something Powell has studied in her spare time for about 30 years.

“I’m not a full-time astrologer. In the last 15 years, I started taking on clients and have taught astrology for the past three years at Wilton Continuing Ed,” said Powell, who also offers private lessons to individuals and small groups.

Powell said she finds astrology “endlessly fascinating” because “there’s always something new to learn or research findings to apply in my practice.”

There are different schools of astrology — Western, Chinese and Jyotish being the most popular, she said — and there are astrologers who specialize in areas like financial investing, weather forecasting, corporate planning, and health problems.

Agricultural astrology, a branch of electional astrology, “may be the human race's oldest astrological practice,” according to Lewis, and is still practiced in some agricultural regions like rural Appalachia.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac regularly features agricultural astrology and even sells a Planting by the Moon’s Phase guide on its website,, that includes a chart with the best planting days based on the moon’s phases by vegetable and by region.

Planting by the Stars

In her Planting by the Stars class, Powell said, participants will look at a variety of planting aids, such as moon charts, scientific research and websites, and discuss “some old wives’ tales about when to plant what.”

“I’d like them to learn how some of the old knowledge that has been around for centuries is still valuable and we don’t need GMOs to have better crop yield,” said Powell, who looks forward to meeting the students. “I always learn something new from them.”

Powell said people should sign up for Planting by the Stars because it will be fun.

“I can’t guarantee larger plants with bigger flowers and tons of produce, but why not see if tomatoes planted during a new moon grow better than those planted during a full moon,” she said.

“Perhaps a sunflower really does grow better if the moon is in the constellation of Leo rather than Gemini, or maybe waiting one day to harvest until the moon is in Pisces will produce a sweeter watermelon. Let’s find out.”

Powell said the class is also for people with houseplants or container gardens.

Planting by the Stars will take place from 6:45 to 8:45 p.m. at Wilton High School. There is a $35 fee for the class, as well as a $5 materials fee, payable to the instructor. There is also a $10 discount for residents.

For more information or to register, visit