Gardening with the Moon: Using Prep 500 – Horn Manure

  • Timing – The stirring should be done in the afternoon or early evening, on a Root day when the Earth is breathing IN

As that may sound like complete gobbledygook it’s a good idea to do your first stirring after you’ve read the blog on Moon Cycles and got some idea of what I’m talking about. When you feel you know roughly what you’re doing have a go at your first 500 stirring. The garden will do better if you give the soil attention first – like in all organic practice, good soil makes good plants – so do the 500 first for the soil and the 501 for the plants later.

Look at your Star Calendar to find the right day to do the stirring.

NB – the day before, make a plan of how you are going to go round the garden spraying, especially while you’re new to this.

You need …
  • Prep 500, horn manure.
  • Prep 507, valerian juice; it’s one of the compost preps but you use it here, with the 500 to help warm up the soil and encourage earthworms.
  • a non-metallic bucket. Wood is very nice but very expensive, a plastic bucket from the household shop will do perfectly well; the point is to get the preparations on the land. Metal doesn’t seem to work so well in most people’s experience.
    • You want a smooth-sided bucket with no ridges in the bottom as they make the stirring difficult. The bottom should preferably be slightly smaller diameter than the top so the sides slope upwards and outwards. This makes getting a vortex easier.
  • a wooden stirring stick; I use a length of broom-handle about two foot long.
  • A small pot (plastic is fine, like a big ice-cream tub) that holds about 2 litres and that you can put the end of the stirring stick into to mash up the preparation before it goes in the bucket.
  • a 6-8 inch wide wall-papering or plastering brush – it needs to be wide and with fairly soft bristles that will absorb the water. And it must be NEW, not one you’ve ever used for painting or plastering! – from your local DIY shop and keep it, along with the bucket and stick only for stirring.
  • Water – ¾ of the household bucket will be quite enough for most gardens. Use rain or pond water, not tap water with all the “stuff” in it like chlorine and fluorine. If you have to use tap water leave it in an open-topped container in the sunlight for the day before you want to stir, so the chemicals can evaporate off. This biodynamic stuff needs a bit of planning as you can see!

NB – Try not to buy bottled water, it’s best from the land where you live. Rainwater is always good and has come direct to your land from the clouds J.


  • Warm the water up to blood temperature.
    • Put about a quarter of the water into a saucepan and boil it up, then pour that into the rest of the bucket.
    • Test for temperature by putting your elbow into the bucket – like mother did to test the bath water for baby. If it’s comfortable to your elbow it will be comfortable for the plants too.
    • Put a half a litre, a pint, into the small plastic pot
    • Take the required amount of 500, horn manure – use a thumb-joint’s worth in three-quarters of a bucket of water for the average town garden – from its storage jar and crumble it into the small pot, crush it with the stick so it begins to dissolve.
    • When it’s fairly well mixed pour the contents of the small pot into the bucket of warm water and rinse the pot in the bucket so you don’t leave any in the pot.
    • Decide with your friend(s) how long you are going to stir each go; Paul and I do ten minutes then swap over, so it’s ten minutes on, ten minutes off and we each get three goes at stirring in the hour.
    • Note the time on the clock !!! Begin stirring.
    • 15 minutes before the hour is up – after ¾ of an hour stirring – put about 10 drops of prep 507 (Valerian) into the mix and continue stirring until the hour is up.
    • Walk around your garden – use the plan so you don’t miss anywhere. You put the 500 on all the soil in your garden – flower beds, veg beds, lawn, fruit trees/orchard, fruit beds, rockeries, bog garden, everywhere. It doesn’t matter if you splash the plants too.
    • Don’t save any left over in the bucket, it goes off after a couple of hours and is no good any more. You may find you’ve enough to go round twice, or that some beds can get two helpings. But don’t save it, you have to make it fresh each time.

Gardening with the Moon: the Importance of Composting 2

Clay & Cation Exchange

Lots of gardeners have an inbuilt dislike of clay. This is a shame, clay is potentially the best soil in the world for plants but it does require some effort from us.

I’ve talked about colloids and how clay forms some of the very best colloids that have a huge surface area and so are very well able to provide nutrient for plants. Now I’m going to talk about how this happens.

Remember … electrical charges (like magnets) tend to repel each other so the particles are kept separate from each other, held in suspension retaining their vitality, colloids. If the charge decreases the particles snap back together and so lose their colloidal behaviour, they coagulate and so become dead in both inorganic and organic terms. This means they are far less useful to nourish plants. I’m going to talk about this electrical behaviour, it’s about particles called ions …

An ion is a particle with an electrical charge.

  • Positively charged particles are called Cations … pronounced cat-eye-ons, emphasising the first syllable.
  • Negatively charged particles are called Anions … pronounced ann-eye-ons.

Having negative + positive charge together means the two particles can stick together, it’s rather like static, when something nylon sticks to you. This ability to collect and hold other particles is one of the major ways nutrients are held in the soil so that plants can use them.

All organic activities are electrical phenomena that require an ion exchange and Cation Exchange Capacity – CEC – is vital to how plants get food and water.

  • Clay and compost, organic matter (humus), have negatively charged sites (anions) on them that enable them to attract and hold positively charged particles (cations).

This means they can attract and hold food particles for the plants.

  • The Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) of your soil is about how many negatively charged sites are available in it – the more the merrier because then it will attract and hold lots of positively charged cations-nutrients for your plants.

Clay soil is particularly good at this. Yes, I know, everyone groans when they hear the words clay soil but clay has the ability to hold the most nutrients of any soil and so is essential to getting a good growing medium in your garden. It does require some work from you though, to make it well able to do its job of holding nutrients and water in a form the plants can use. The work you do in adding organic matter is fundamental to Cation exchange … and thereby the plant’s ability to get nourishment from the soil.

Clay particles are incredibly tiny! They can’t be seen in most microscopes. Remember what I said about surface area and colloids, and incredibly tiny particles that stay suspended in water rather than becoming a true solution? Clay particles disperse evenly through water and other substances. They’re so small they can’t be seen individually, they can’t even be seen in most microscopes, and they can take weeks or months to settle out or they may never settle out but remain suspended in water.

How does clay come about?

Soil is made by the geological breaking down of rocks. Heating and cooling, freezing and thawing, wind and water erosion, rain and biological activity all gradually break the rock down to soil, the earth’s growing medium. NB – all rain is more acid than alkali which is why it’s better for plants than just watering, but the excess carbon dioxide we’ve pumped into the air over the past 50+ years forms carbonic acid as an unwanted and very corrosive extra. Another part of global warming.

The more rainfall a soil gets the faster it breaks down into clay. Young clays are made up of layers of silica and alumnia sandwiched with either potassium or iron. They only have cation exchange sites on their edges.

As the clays become “middle aged” the filling of the sandwich gets taken out by the soil life – like worms, micchoryza, insects, microscopic life that all helps to make up the body of Mother Earth. Plant roots take the sandwich filling too, it’s part of their food. All this feeding opens up lots more negatively charged exchange sites and so increases cation exchange capacity (CEC).

In elderly clay, the sandwich gradually gets filled up again with hydrated aluminum oxide and so loses its exchange capacity.

The Importance of Composting

It’s our job as gardeners to keep our soil’s CEC high. Remember, I said the surface area of just one ounce of humus is something like 5 acres? The number of cation exchange sites increases along with the surface area which, in turn, increases the CEC and so enables your plants to feed better. Humus, is vital to this process … that’s about making compost.

Organic matter of itself, dead plant material, doesn’t have much exchange capacity, it must first be broken down into humus – this is composting. The composting process needs the action of soil microorganisms, earthworms, fungi and insects. When none of these can do anything more with the stuff, as food, it has finally become that very small but very complex carbon structure – colloid – that can hold and release many times its own weight in water and plant nutrients.

  • The higher the humus level the greater the exchange capacity.
  • The only way to increase the humus level of your soil is to make loads of compost and add it to your soil.
  • Adding the BD preps to the compost to further increases this activity, improving the CEC even further, along with doing other things to help the plants.

It took me a while and several pots of tea to get my head around this but it’s worth making the effort. So much gardening “science” makes a lot more sense once you do … why we make compost, why adding organic matter to the soil is so good, all this sort of thing makes more sense once you realise the enormous effect colloids, clay and cation exchange has.

Ancient Calendar: Lady Godiva & more: July 10, 2010

My grandmother once told me that in order to get the attention of a man, and to get him to rethink something his mind seems permanently fixed on…a woman has to do drastic things.

Let Lady Godiva shed light to that. 


Most people think she was simply a famous painting, which I will show shortly, but she was much more than that. An actual person, she was married to a man named Leofric III, who was known as the Earl of Mercia AND the Lord of Coventry. Having pleaded with her husband many times, Lady Godiva on this day in Ancient History during the year of 1045 CE decided to do exactly what my Grandmother advised all women to do….take matters into her own hands and do something drastic.


Stripping down to absolutely nothing, Lady Godiva rode through the village in a desperate plea (or awakening) to persuade her husband to lower the taxes on all those living there.

Now some sources claimed that Lady Godiva had tried very hard to convince her husband before this, and that her ride was done so after he made a sarcastic remark such as, "I will lower the taxes only after you ride through the village naked." If that were the case, he had to eat his words, didn’t he?

Some sources also claim that Lady Godiva did not do this as a shock to everyone. That she ordered the villagers to remain indoors and to not look outside. Other sources claim that she did this in full view, where all could see her, as her two female lady attendants rode along side of her—with their clothes on that is.

In the end, despite how it came about or how it came to be, the taxes were lowered.


The Norse would have been celebrating their Goddess Skaoi or Skadhi, whjo happened to be the wife of Niord. She was the goddess of the Hunt.


The Goddess month of Rosea Ends.




Saturday is the day of Seatere, Seater, Saturn, and Loki—trickster of the Norse Culture.


Saturday is a good day to deal with matters and or invoke magical spells concerning:

A Gift of some sort, and or maybe something to do with your property?

Are you moving your home? Is someone else moving their home? Do you have matters concerning the elderly and or maybe you need to work on self discipline?


Remember that Saturday belongs to Saturn and the Element of Earth.





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Shades of Grey

Talking with my son about any ethical issue, it’s evident he sees the world in clearly defined hues of black and white. The vast majority of issues he encounters, James can confidently identify a right answer, and a wrong one. It is an advantage, for him, being seven. It gives him a certain confidence that adults lose, because all he has to go on is his sense of right and wrong, with none of the justifications, excuses and faulty reasoning we gain in later life.

Being that much older, I’ve learned to see the world in shades of grey. I understand that sometimes people do the wrong things for the right reasons, that everyone has different ideas of ‘best’ and so forth. That kind of grey scale James is moderately tolerant of. He accepts that everyone makes mistakes, and believes everyone should have the chance to learn and do better. As he himself is learning (and making occasional mistakes) this is entirely visible to him as an issue.

There are other excuses. I didn’t have time. It’s too expensive. I forgot. I didn’t think it mattered. Everyday justifications for failure. James doesn’t have a lot of time for those, I am finding. He expects better of the people around him. Fall short in that way, and he expects an apology at the very least, because to him these are at best explanations, not excuses. When it comes to choosing between right and wrong ways of being, none of the above really justifies a poor choice. Especially when we know we’re not doing our best.

Then there are the more personal justifications. No one is perfect after all. People act out of fear, insecurity, broken trust, pain, grief and a whole host of other unhelpful emotional states. Not with any kind of malice, but because wounded people cannot always see so clearly, their past colouring the present. This is the point at which our discussions get interesting. For James, this remains a black and white issue. He does not perceive any of these reasons as excuses. In part this is because he is seven, and he does not have much baggage of his own. In some ways, I think he’s absolutely right – no matter how grim your past, it is no excuse for mistreating others. However, bad experiences can shape our perceptions and make it hard to see what’s really happening, with wrong action resulting from misinterpretation. There’s nothing to be gained from getting cross with someone whose broken capacity for trust prevents them from seeing you mean them no harm.

Going through life, making our own mistakes and falling foul of others, we get some corners, and clarity knocked off. Once you’ve really cocked a few things up yourself, it gets easier to be compassionate towards others, if you are that way inclined. It also becomes easier to lower your expectations and assume that the people around you will underachieve, and let you down. To a certain extent, we tend to give each other permission to fail.

Rather than trying to teach my son about shades of grey and excuses, I am listening to him. I am remembering my own childhood clarity and the simple sense of right and wrong I once had. I come to that now with a better understanding that other people have different takes and priorities. There is a difference however between honourably negotiating over needs and beliefs, and imposing them. Some perspectives (full of hate, greed, jealousy and malice) can never be justified. Some ways of behaving are never ok, no matter what excuse is offered. It’s easy to get so lost in the shades of grey that you forget about black and white, but they exist too. It is so important to celebrate the good things and stand firm against that which is wrong, but how many of us do either from one day to the next? In this one, my son is the teacher, and I have a great deal to relearn.