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!



A Beautiful Mistake

We all mess up occasionally; it’s part of learning. But when a mistake is made in the front garden, it’s impossible to miss. Continue reading “A Beautiful Mistake”

Good Looks Aren’t Everything

Despite the routine calendar of a gardener; when to sow carrots, when to earth up first early potatoes and when to turn your compost heap, no two growing years are the same. This year, several crops I’ve been growing seem to be weeks ahead to where they were this time last year. I  grow my chillies, peppers and aubergines on the kitchen windowsill and tend not to plant them into their final growing position until the second week in May. However, both my chilli and pepper plants have grown so big, they’re blocking out the natural light into the kitchen and have already got flowers on them. Pepper Collage

In the polytunnel my Cosmos bipinnatus (Rubenza) are already producing flowers, but out on the plot, there’s still no sign of my carrots! Not that I’m worried, it just adds a little more variety to the growing season and keeps me on my toes.

It’s an exciting time of year, the squash seeds have germinated, the different bean varieties are breaking through the soil and I seem to be growing more varieties of sunflowers than I know what to do with. But they’re all welcome, and I will find a final home for them all. Cosmos Collage

There have been a few crops I’ve grown on the polytunnel which normally, by now, I would have planted out. This is a changeable time of year, where one minute the shorts are out as we bask in the warmth of the sun, and the next we’re donning fleeces and thermals as we wipe the icicles from our noses in sub-zero temperatures. Therefore, a few extra weeks in the warmth of the polytunnel will hopefully give them an extra spurt of growth.

However, this was the weekend to plant out my brassicas.

I had two beds cultivated and ready for them. They’re nearly identical, the only difference is that one bed was enriched with green manure last autumn. So having split my cauliflowers (Mayflower), cabbages (Duncan) and broccoli (Calabrese) equally, I’ve planted them in the beds – keen to see if the green manure has any effect on this year’s crops.1brass

When growing brassicas, I always plant them a bit deeper to the soil line they’ve been previously growing in. As these crops grow large heads, all that weight rocking throughout the season can cause the roots to be pulled up and kill the crop. It’s then a question of watering, mulching and placing brassica collars round them. And the final act of security is to net them. Despite the good looks of a Cabbage White Butterfly, their offspring can devastate a brassica crop. So I’m taking no chances.

Although we may dream of having that Chelsea Garden Show garden/allotment, where everything looks perfect, crops are uniform, soil is of the finest crumb and there isn’t a beastie in sight, in the real world, pests and diseases are part of a gardener’s life. I try not to use chemicals, so it’s going to be netting to deter the worst of the seasonal invaders, hopefully, striking a healthy balance on my plot. Afterall, these pests were here before me.2shed

My allotment may not win a Gold for its good looks, but it’s all about the taste and making sensible choices not to pollute the land with toxins. AdeSignature