By The Light of the Moon

Did anyone happen to catch a glimpse of the Super Blood Wolf Moon last week? We caught it as it neared fullness last Sunday evening, before it took on its red hue (needless to say we didn’t fancy getting up at 5am to see it in its full bloody splendour!), but even then it was pretty astonishing.

If you’ve been following us on Instagram lately, you’ll know that we’re lucky enough to witness the most incredible sunrises from our new home, as it faces eastwards. The same can be said of the moonrise, and last week’s full moon was particularly spectacular. Rather thrillingly, my brother bought us a telescope for Christmas, so we got it out last Sunday and faffed around with the lenses until we got a decent view. I took the above picture by placing the camera lens of my phone over the viewfinder on the telescope and snapping away. I’m sure there are more professional methods to get a full moon close-up, but I was quite happy with how it turned out!

Staring at the moon got me thinking about biodynamic planting – has anyone ever tried it? It sounds rather intriguing. It involves (among many other things), sowing and harvesting crops according to the phases of the moon as, much like the power it wields over the tides, the moon is also thought to exert an influence over the water in the soil and inside plants. By working with the moon phases, it is believed that crop yields will improve. It may sound a little bit like hippy claptrap (and Ade has raised a doubtful eyebrow whenever I’ve mentioned it previously), but those who do garden using biodynamic methods swear by it. It’s also nothing new. Farmers have planted according to the phases of the moon for thousands of years.

There are many other elements to biodynamic gardening; the position of the planets are also thought to have an effect, and certain preparations are used to enliven the soil. It’s one step on from organic gardening, where the gardener treats the garden as a whole, integrated, living organism, made up of many elements (plants, soil, animals, etc.), and it is thought that by harmonising these elements in a holistic way, you can support the health and vitality of the whole.

Although we haven’t even built our new vegetable garden yet (and Ade is beside himself, desperate to make a start!), I’m keen to run some experiments later in the year, to see if there really are any benefits to biodynamic methods.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear if you’ve tried it!



New Year, New Challenges

Sound the trumpets, send for the messenger, release the homing pigeons. It’s official – I’m self-employed! Film editor/director, garden presenter, gardener.. and tea maker.

This week, I’ve worn out the soles of my boots going door-to-door, posting garden flyers in letterboxes, all in the hope that someone will require my gardening services. Peeking into other people’s gardens has given me the chance to look for ideas, and think about how I might be able to make their green spaces sparkle.

Then early yesterday morning, I packed a knapsack, and headed for the bright lights of old London Town. On behalf of Suttons Seeds, I was guest presenting on Michael Perry’s Garden World on QVC, talking about the Charlotte Russe Mulberry Standard and Grafted Turbo Veg. I’m thrilled this has become a regular gig for me, as I get to talk about the thing I love most – plants. As always, it’s great to spend time with the talented Michael Perry, someone who has supported Agents of Field since the very beginning.

Back at home, I’ve been beavering away, converting one of our rooms into my edit suite/office. Whilst I may have given up my London career as an editor/director, I’m still putting myself out there, freelancing. From garden shows to interviews, to my previous television promo work.. I’m up for hire!

Meanwhile, out in the garden, things are looking bare. After removing over a dozen half-dead conifers, and giving all the remaining trees a good prune, the template is set. The conifer logs will season for a year, and then we’ll use them in the woodburner. Also, when time permits, I’ll build a log store from the panels of the old garden shed I took down last November.

There has been some hard landscaping as well. Bases have been laid in anticipation of the arrival of both my new Vitavia greenhouse and spanking new garden shed. Already, I can visualise what the final kitchen garden will look like, and I can’t wait. But I’m all too aware that the growing season, despite the recent frost, is slowly starting to stir from its winter slumber. Time is short, so I need to build my raised beds, and get them filled within the next few weeks. Day in, day out, I’ve been out in the garden with my tape measure taking measurements, changing my mind and starting over again. Finally, I think I may have my blueprint.

But there have been some unforeseen garden expenses. With the conifers gone, I realised just how much the rear garden fences and posts had rotted, so I made the decision to replace them all. The section sits behind the ‘soon to be’ kitchen garden, and will be partially obscured by the new greenhouse and shed. Nevertheless, I’m not a fan of your average garden fence, so I’m currently looking at evergreen shrubs to cover them. At the moment, I’m swaying between cherry and Portuguese laurel. I know laurel can be a swine to keep in check, but I think I can handle its pruning demands, what do you reckon? All shrub suggestions welcome!

As always, I’ve sown my chilli, pepper and aubergine seeds already as they can take a while to get going, so giving them as a long run as possible is always a good idea. Also, this ‘January sowing’ was something introduced to me by my beloved Dad. So, now he’s gone, the tradition seems more significant than ever. Although a bittersweet experience this year, I know if I hadn’t have done it, Dad would have come back and haunted me, rattling his fork and trowel in the dead of night… Haha, the sod!

So three weeks into the new year, and I’m spinning more plates than I know what to do with. But the spinning is good for the soul, and it’s slowly putting the smile back on my face… Oh, and did I mention we’ve also got a house to renovate?