Gardening with the Moon: Root, Leaf, Flower, Fruit Days – 1

I said in an earlier article – Gardening by the Moon – that the Moon acts as a lens to focus onto the Earth the energy coming from each constellation.

For instance, say the Moon is in front of the constellation of the Ram (Aries). This is a fire constellation and fire (as we’ll see later in the column) has to do with fruits, beans, strawberries, melons, holly berries, apples, all the pretty plants we grow for the berries as well as the berries and fruits we eat. While the Moon is focusing this energy onto the Earth from the Ram constellation is a good time to sow, plant and transplant, cultivate and harvest all fruiting plants. It’s also the time to use the spray preparation 501 (horn silica) to help the fruits come to their optimum but again, we’ll go into that later in the column J.

The following table gives you an idea of what to do when …

Use 500, Horn Manure, on the relevant plants on the relevant days, as necessary Use 501, Horn Silica, on the relevant plants on the relevant days, as necessary
13 Jun FLOWER Sow annual flower seeds; late succession broccoli, cauli, calabrese Weed/hoe cauli, broccoli, calabrese; & flower beds
14 Jun FLOWER to 8am GMT

LEAF from 9am GMT

Sow succession cabbages, lettuce, spinach, leaf veg; plant out foliage plants


Cultivate leaf veg & foliage plants


15 Jun Day off !!! The moon is having a day off! Days off are due to eclipses, relationship to the other planets. Clean the tools, MOW THE LAWN, go shopping 🙂
16, 17, 18 Jun FRUIT Sow seeds of fruit plants to grow on for next year; transplant seedling fruit plants cultivate fruit garden & orchard; care for holly, rosa rugosa & other ornamentals grown for their fruit.
19 Jun ROOT Sow and transplant anything; especially good for root veg; also MOW THE LAWN Cultivate anything; especially good for root veg; also MOW THE LAWN
20 Jun Day off !!! The moon is having a day off again. Days off are due to eclipses, relationship to the other planets. Clean the tools, MOW THE LAWN, go shopping 🙂
21 Jun ROOT
23 Jun FLOWER to noon GMT

LEAF from 1300 GMT

24 Jun LEAF
25 Jun FLOWER This is the cusp period I’ll be back with a new column

I’ll write more about this next time.
Elen Sentier
… behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat …
writer artist gardener shaman
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Gardening with the Moon – The Preparations

The Preparations …

  • The Preps are the corner-stone of biodynamics. Using the eight preparations is what biodynamics is about. They’re what Steiner originally gave at the 1924 lectures at Count Keiserling’s home and without them you’re not doing biodynamics.
  • It’s actually getting the preps on the ground, on the plants and in the compost heap that does the magic.

When added to good organic practice, the preparations increase soil and plant health and vitality, enhance colour, form, fragrance and flavour as well as helping plants resist pests and diseases.

We use the preps in conjunction with the Star Calendar, although this came later. The Star Calendar gives us the Moon-times, the best times to actually use the preparations. Although you can apply the preps any time their effectiveness definitely goes up an order of magnitude if you use them at the appropriate time. In cahoots with the Moon.

When Steiner gave the lectures he said he had given “the letters of the alphabet” and now it was up to those who came after him to make words, sentences, paragraphs, whole books even, out of the basic alphabet he had given. Maria Thun did just this, took Steiner’s ideas and work and built on them.

So, like all good science – all good magic too – nothing is set in stone but all is open to the powers of evolution, of growth. The Earth herself grows and learns and enlarges her consciousness as we learn and enlarge ours. We are part of her, she is made up of us. Knowing and understanding this is what wholeness and integration is about. You can take this idea of the oneness of all Life at any level you like, it works perfectly well at a materialistic level, just as it does at spiritual ones. The Gaia Principle works this way although Lovelock says he felt no need for spirituality in his life.

But the preparations are powerful stuff, even if nobody really knows yet why they work … you only have to use them for a little while to see for yourself how effective they are. There’s nothing like experience to convince you of something :-).

My first experience …

My own first experience of using prep 500 – horn manure – was of this ilk. My husband, Paul, went along to Steiner House in London to see what it was all about just after Yule one year long ago. They did a stirring of the 500 and he came home with a jam jar of dirty-looking brown liquid and a large wallpaper brush, trotted out into the garden and began flicking the stuff all over the shop. “Men!” I thought, “ah well, he’s not doing any harm.” He hadn’t told me anything about it or I might have recognized some of the ideas from what my dad and uncle used to do.

Me with Goldy & Star

The previous autumn I’d dug up the small patch of lawn in our little London terrace house garden. Being a plants-woman I’d no place for grass in such a small space. I’d stacked the grass, turf side down, under some black membrane to make topsoil for the following spring. Being in London meant we were on good old clay with only about four inches of topsoil before you hit the pan. Paul did another stirring at home the following month and I joined in this time.

Come the end of February I got out there with a fork to see how things were going and begin making the new flower beds. I stuck the fork in the ground, expecting to have to heave up heavy clay and it slid in, a whole spit’s depth. I forked it up and imagine my surprise when I found I now had a whole spit [a spit is the depth of the tines on your fork] of good soil where last November I’d only had London clay. All we had done to it was put the prep 500 on it a couple of times, nothing else, and we hadn’t had a hard winter so it wasn’t frost doing any of the work. It seemed the prep had somehow transmuted heavy clay into good topsoil. Wow! I was converted completely. However it did it the stuff was magic, we were definitely using it.

I later found this is one of the basic things using the prep can do. We’ve demonstrated it again here at Archenland where we were originally on heavy stagnoglay – anaerobic clay, not easy stuff to get in good nick. Getting the preps on the ground is what does the work. Doing it in time and tune with the Moon makes it really spin.

The picture is of our London garden – I don’t seem to have many of those easily to hand, will try to look out some more as it was very lovely, if tiny :-).

Elen Sentier
… behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat …
writer artist gardener shaman
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Gardening with the Moon – Spray & Compost Preps

Biodynamics is easy … I want to say this right from the beginning. It does not mean you have to spend many hours making strange brews or spend loads of money. All the preparations, ready to stir, and the star calendar are available from your local BD association.

The preparations are used in two ways …

  • spray preparations that are used directly on the soil and plants
  • compost preparations that (as their name suggests) work in the compost heap.

Both the spray preps are made using a cow’s horns as the container and are sometimes known as the “horn preps”. The compost preps are made in all sorts of things and are more complex to make. How is dealt with in the “Making the Preparations” chapter but, as I said above, you don’t need to do this unless you wish to. All the preps are available for sale, cheaply, through your national biodynamic association.

What you have to do is turn them into a form that the soil and plants can use and that’s what we’re going to do in this chapter. For both horn preparations, horn manure (500) and horn silica (501), you do this by stirring a very small portion of either in a bucket of water for an hour.

A handful of horn manure

You need only a very small amount of either prep. For the horn manure, a piece about the length of your first thumb-joint stirred into an ordinary household-size plastic bucket half full of water will do the whole of the average town garden. For horn silica, a quarter of a teaspoon in half a bucket of water will be quite enough for most people’s veg and flowers. It really is a case of less-is-more.

The preparations are not fertilisers to be sprayed onto the ground in great quantities. As you’ll see, you actually flick droplets onto the soil with a large wallpaper brush or spray plants with a fine sprayer. Using the brush may make you feel a bit silly at first, especially if your neighbours see you, but you really won’t care once you’re munching those delicious raspberries or vegetables, or enjoying the beautiful, healthy flowers.

The next blog will be about how to actually prepare and use prep 500 – the horn manure.

Elen Sentier
… behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat …
writer artist gardener shaman
My Blog
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Celtic shaman – Elen Sentier Statins: medecine issues

Visions of Faerie

It didn’t take me long, as a child, to realise that the cutesy creatures with wings weren’t the real deal. With access to folklore, I discovered a world of faerie folk and spirits of place that was neither safe nor cute. The Lords and Ladies, The Good Neighbours, The Little Folk. Offend them at your peril. Whether you think they are real or not, they act as representation of our relationship with nature, conveying the message that anything less than care and politeness could cost us dear.

For me, there are certain books that encapsulate my sense of what faerie is. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norris is a fine case in point. Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market and Yeats’ Stolen Child capture both the allure and danger. The suggestion of faerie will cause me to pick up a book and read the blurb. So many times I’ve put those books down again, able to tell that the author just doesn’t get it. More often than not, it’s the sheer otherness that isn’t conveyed. Faeries are not just humans with pointy ears and better costumes. In folklore, they are a race apart, with radically different attitudes and rules.

I came to Giselle Renarde’s ‘Secrets of the Solstice Sacrifice’ as an editor not a reader. (Just so you know I have biases). Renarde’s faeries are not part of some uncanny otherworld, but instead exist in our world, just beyond human perception but occasionally impinging on it. She makes them very much a part of nature, as a significant portion of faeries are (kelpies, piskies, pookas, boccans and so forth are very much in the world). However, she gives them a social structure more suggestive of the Shinning Hordes style faerie who troop between their mounds at Samhain and Beltain. It raises some interesting questions about how we designate an entity as spirit of place, or as fey. I suspect these are rather arbitrary, human ways of looking that don’t reflect the actualities all that well, but we are stuck with our human perceptions, language and understanding when it comes to dealing with that which is other.

The usual way of handling faeries in fiction is to send in a mortal character we can relate to – be that Janet of Carterhaugh in Tam Lin, or Thomas the Rhymer encountering the Queen of Elfland. These two tales pitch mortals against faeries, Janet rescuing the human Tam from captivity amongst the Fair Folk, Thomas enchanted by the Faerie Queen, but eventually returning to the world. It is, in many ways, the easiest way of exploring otherness in fiction – looking through the eyes of someone we can readily relate to. It helps to make the Shinning ones accessible, without bringing them too close.

Renarde takes the bold move of telling her tale from an entirely faerie set of perspectives. There are no human characters to engage with. She runs with two perspectives, characters who are both sympathetic, and very clearly not human. Part of the success of this stems, I think, from her very careful language use, having elements that take her characters away from human experience without making them unreadable. No mean feat, I would say. There’s also a dash of magic. Renarde isn’t a pagan, but she handles ritual and sex magic with a deft touch, creating scenarios I think the majority of pagans would find resonant (and sexy).

The language of faerie, of fey is used by, and about glbt folk. For a while ‘fairy’ meant camp, and probably gay, certainly if used in relation to a man. It doesn’t seem so prevalent as a term at the moment, but it’s out there, and I’ve known glbt folk who adopted fey names as an expression of self. To be fey, and other, may be to be gender-queer, and not part of the mainstream. Which means that it works on many levels to set a transgender tale in the context of faerie folk. Renarde’s faeries can wish themselves into being whatever they desire, so for most, gender change would be an easy option should they seek it. Renarde crafts some startling challenges for her characters. Even in a culture rooted in otherness, it is still possible not to be able to fit, and the journey to becoming who you are, is still a tricky one. This is a story that works well on a metaphorical level as well as being a good piece of folklore rooted fantasy.

Here’s the opening…

Y Tylwyth Teg, the fair folk, have lived on this mount since before there was a country to speak of. After a skirmish with y gwragedd annwn, the wee folk of the lakes and streams, our great-mothers and fathers, settled in these hills and became the gwyllion, good folk of the mountain. There were no human creatures in that time—only the fair folk, existing unhindered in our ways and travels. We used to ride the wild horses over hill and dale. These days, they’ve all been tamed and we’ve taken to riding wild pigs, errant dogs, and even ducks, if we must.

It’s out today from loveyoudivine, and well worth a look. – and there’s another excerpt over there too.