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!

 

 

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And Sow It Begins…

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful festive break and that 2019 promises to be a productive year for us all.

It’s been a surreal few weeks here at Agents of Field. The upheaval of relocating to the country and then the sudden, heart-breaking loss of Ade’s Dad just before Christmas has been disorienting to say the least. We’ve spent much of the last month shuttling back and forth between Suffolk and Bristol, Ade’s home city, which is an eight-hour round trip. We were apart over Christmas, Ade was with his family and I was with mine, so our time together in our new home has been limited. Everything is still in boxes and is likely to remain so for a while as the house needs a lot of work.

Our kitchen, outdated but more or less functional when we arrived here, is now in tatters, and its’s about to get a whole lot worse. Part of the mess is because we’ve moved the boiler, and replaced it with a more efficient combi-boiler, so cupboards and water tanks have been ripped out leaving gaping holes in the middle of the kitchen. But then there was also a near-fire which happened after a leaking kitchen tap (which we knew about) had been steadily dripping onto an electrical socket (which we didn’t know about) hidden behind one of the kitchen units. The water softener was connected to it and the plug had been quietly smouldering away for the entire time we’d been in Bristol just before Christmas. I came back here for a few days by myself, got up one morning and was greeted by smoke as I walked into the kitchen…. and this was, I’m not kidding you, about half an hour after I’d discovered the ground floor bathroom underwater. Yes. What an eventful morning that was!

But we’ve made a start on things at least. Aside from the new boiler, we’ve had the electrics fixed, we’ve knocked down one wall, built another, and had some new windows put in. And there have been some changes to the garden as well, but I’ll let Ade tell you about those when he’s back next week. We also managed to squeeze in a fun and festive radio interview with the lovely Ellen Mary on her Future Radio gardening show which you can listen to here. It was pre-recorded at the start of December, before everything went nuts, hence our chirpiness!

But now it’s January. With no new homegrown produce to cook with, and a kitchen I’m trying to avoid like the plague, I’m nudging my way into Ade’s territory as I rediscover my own green-fingers. I came across a couple of micro-green growing kits which we’d picked up as freebies at the GMG Awards last year, and decided to put them to use. I love growing micro greens – they’re quick, easy and it feels a little bit deviant to be eating your own homegrown salad in January in England!Β 

A five-minute job at most, Johnsons have simplified the task of growing micro-greens even further, by providing a kit which includes two growing trays which sit on a water tray, negating the need for any compost. You literally sprinkle the enclosed seeds onto a moistened paper towel placed in the growing trays, and that’s it. The perfect solution for anyone wanting to have a go at growing their own food, but who doesn’t have the time, the space or, as was the case with me this morning, who’s just feeling a little bit lazy!

Admittedly, I’ve never sown basil or coriander in January before, I usually grow pea shoots at this time of year and although the kit says the seeds can be sown at any time, I’m not holding my breath. I’ve never had much luck growing coriander even in summer. But I’ve popped the tray on a warm window sill and have given the seeds an encouraging pep talk, so we’ll see.

The first seeds of 2019 have been sown – let the games begin!