Gardening with the Moon: Doing the Deed – using 501

So … you feel you’re ready to go for it …

Looking at the Star Calendar, you find …

  • the time of the month when the Earth is breathing OUT
  • then, within that, for the relevant days for the part of the plant you want to help – e.g. LEAF for lettuces.
Sunrise over Dunkery Beacon
Dawn …

Now … The Bad News … you have to do 501 very early in the morning …

Now, here comes the really bad bit … the ideal is that you should begin stirring half an hour before sunrise and apply the prep within two hours after sunrise

OK. I heard that scream!

Yes, there really is such an hour as dawn, it’s actually quite nice and the birdsong is fantastic. So are the sky, the colours and the clouds. And you only have to do this about 6 times a year. Yes … I am trying to get you on side J. And just imagine those delicious veg and fruit, those gorgeous flowers, that fabulous scent your hard work is going to produce.

If you can’t quite manage dawn you still need to have got the preparation onto the plants by 09.30 at the latest. This does give you a bit of leeway as it would mean you begin stirring by 07.30. But really, the earlier you can begin the better. Around midsummer dawn is about 04.00 which is a bit serious but it really is worth it.

Mistakes …

The possibility for mistakes is somewhat compounded by the need to spray 501 so early in the morning – preferably very early in the morning. Lots of us are still comatose and not really thinking straight in the wee small hours! Have a wake-up coffee before you try to think when doing a 501, make sure you’ve landed back on the planet after a night’s dreams so you don’t make a hash of it.

Friends …

This is another moment when friends make all the difference! A car-load of friends arriving with croissants, fresh bread, Danish pastries and other goodies and coffee makes all the difference to how you feel. And, as a group, you’re more likely to keep a check on each other against making mistakes, someone can yell “NOT the lettuce !!!” when it’s a fruit day J. Even if you do screw up a bit, there’s friends to laugh and cry about it with. So book in those friends to come and help!

Stirring 501

You need …
  • Prep 501, Horn silica
  • the same plastic bucket you used for prep 500, from the household store, will do perfectly well for the 501
  • the same wooden stirring stick will do too
  • a fine sieve – you can make one easily from a small plastic funnel and a double layer of nylon stockings/tights
  • a plant sprayer which forms a fine mist (it must not have been used for other materials such as pesticides or herbicides) – not the brush this time!
  • friends, coffee, croissants, pastries, chocolate …
  • water – as for the 500 stirring. Remember, Don’t buy bottled water, it should come from the land where you live …
  • clock + alarm, to get you up in time!
  • Warm the water up to blood temperature.
    • Boil it up about a quarter of the water in a saucepan then pour that into the rest of the bucket.
    • Test it for temperature by putting your elbow into the bucket – like mother used to do to test the bath water for the baby. If it’s comfortable to your elbow it will be comfortable for the plants too.
    • Take a quarter teaspoon of 501 from its storage jar and sprinkle it into the water
    • Decide with your friend(s) how long you are each 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.
    • Stir vigorously in the vortex-chaos-vortex cycle for one hour (no less) as for 500
    • When the hour is up strain the liquid through the through the funnel-and-stocking-sieve contraption
    • Then, sprayer in hand, venture out into the dawn and spray the relevant plants with the 501 – use the plan so you don’t miss anywhere.
      • You put the 501 on only the relevant plants for the day you are working – this should be in both ornamental and veg beds, rockeries, bog garden, everywhere that has plants relevant to the day; include the lawn if it’s a leaf day and fruit trees/orchard as well as fruit beds if it’s a fruit day.
      • It does matter, a lot, if you splash the wrong plants!
    • Don’t save any left-overs in the bucket! Like the 500, the 501 goes off after a couple of hours so is no good any more. You may find you’ve enough to go round twice so that the plants get two helpings. But don’t save it, it’s like love and bread … you have to make it fresh each time J.


When it’s all done stagger back indoors and either have breakfast with the friends or go back to bed.


I use 501 in the winter as well as the summer. I use it on flower days to help the early hellebores, viburnums, winter jasmines, snowdrops, celandines, winter aconites, dafffs, all the spring flowers come on well; and on fruit days on the holly, ivy and mistletoe in the autumn to get them going well for Yuletide too.

Gardening with the Moon: Planning to use 501

Make a list of the plants that need spraying the day before, especially while you’re new to this. You’ll have so much to think about a list will help keep you focused. Planting the veg in the BD groups helps enormously.

This table is to give you an idea of which plants to use 501 on, and on which day, but it’s not comprehensive. Why not make your own table and add to it as you wish?

Leaf Flower Fruit
Salad leaves lettuce rocket etc, Cabbage Kale Spinach Chard Cauliflower Broccoli Purple & green Sprouting Calabrese Tomato Cucumber Courgette/zucchini, squash, pumpkins Peas & Beans
Herbs whose leaves you use like mint, sage, oregano, thyme, tarragon, marjoram, fennel Edible flowers like nasturtiums, calendula, rose petals, day lilies, geraniums Fruit & nut trees, like apples, pears, cherries, peaches, plums, hazel, walnut
Ornamental grasses, variegated leaf plants, hostas, etc All flowers & flowering trees, like ornamental cherries Things like holly, spindle, guilder rose, firethorn Chinese Lantern

So … looking at the Star Calendar, you look for …

  • the time of the month when the Earth is breathing OUT
  • then, within that, for the relevant days for the part of the plant you want to help – e.g. LEAF for lettuces.

Then  you organise yourself to do the 501 spray on the relevant day.

501 for Root plants

This is different … Remember, root plants, in biodynamics, are those of which you use/eat the roots

  • you do Root plants – in the afternoon – on a root day when the Earth is breathing IN … quite the opposite way round to all the others! This is for … spuds, carrots, beetroot, swede, parsnip, turnip, horseradish, onions, garlic, etc.

Tip –  I do the dahlias as I lift them, helps them to store and flower well the following year.

You do root plants just before they are ready to harvest. This “finishes” the plant, helping it to come to its best, it also increases its storing or standing capacity.

When to use 501 …


–         Just when the leaves are coming in spring

–         Between pickings for leaf plants like kale and lettuce

–         At any time the plants look stressed

–         After a drought for leaf plants, including the lawn, to help good recovery


–         Just as the flower buds are forming for flowering plants, including broccoli, cauliflower, flowering cherries, mock orange trees, etc.

–         At any time the plants look stressed

–         Again when you want a 2nd or 3rd flowering for flowers like roses and geraniums, spearlets of broccoli etc


–         Just as or just after the petals have fallen so the fruits are beginning to form for fruit plants

–         At any time the plants look stressed

–         Just before harvesting the fruit

Gardening with the Moon: Prep 501 – horn silica

Harvest !!!

This time I’m talking about using the horn silica preparation 501, the other spray-prep. Where 500 was for the soil and everything in it, the critters and plant roots, 501 is for all the parts of the plant above the soil, the leaves, flowers and fruits.

  • NB – we use it on root vegetables too but in a very different way. I talk about that in the section on Planning to Use 501.

How does 501 work?

At first glance Prep 501 is a bit more complicated to use than the horn manure. It’s easier to go wrong, whereas it’s really quite hard to go wrong with the 500. You need to understand a bit about how it works.

From the Moon-perspective, 501 is all about the Earth breathing OUT whereas 500 is all about the Earth breathing IN. the other way around from 500. the two spray preps are complimentary and, together, they work with the full cycle of the moon. Once you get this clear in your mind the rest tends to fall into place.

  • So, the stirring is done in the morning … the time of day when the Earth is breathing OUT … not the afternoon as with 500
  • And it’s done during the time of the month when the Earth is breathing OUT … not the time when she’s breathing in as for 500
  • 501, horn silica, helps the parts of the plant above the ground instead of the parts below the ground as with 500

Additionally, prep 501 is very specific and does exactly what you ask it to do … this means you have to get it right too! It works closely with the star energy the moon is focusing on that day. Let’s do that in layman’s language.

Lettuce … the part you are most interested in, the part you’re going to eat, is the leaves. You want the lettuce either to heart up nicely or to continue giving fresh leaves if it’s of the cut-and-come-again variety. Either way it’s the leaves you want. The same goes for other plants like hostas, grasses (ornamental or lawn) and any plant grown for its foliage. Whereas with a rose or broccoli you want the flowers; with a tomato or holly or spindle tree you want the fruit; with potatoes and beetroot you want the root. You use prep 501 to enhance that part of the plant.

  • So, to use 501 to help the lettuces we look in the calendar for a Leaf day when the Earth is breathing out.
  • And we work in the morning.

OK. But if we go gaily splurging about with that paintbrush we might well hit other plants beside the lettuce, plants in which we want to enhance features other than the leaves. What will happen to the tomatoes, say, if we spray them with 501 on a leaf day? I did once, sprayed the broccoli on a leaf day – great leaves but no broccoli! Not what I wanted at all. Or, another time (early on in my biodynamic career!) I was off to do the tomatoes on a fruit day and I accidentally hit the lettuces as I was dashing about. Oops! All the lettuces promptly bolted, went to seed! Bother! It was very annoying!

You see what I’m getting at … 501 is very specific, it does exactly what you ask it to do so if you spray the plant on a fruit day, it encourages everything it touches to fruit, to go to seed. If this isn’t what you want then you have a minor disaster on your hands. Nothing that can’t be fixed by re-sowing if it’s veg, or waiting a bit and doing it right for perennials … but still a darn nuisance. So you have to be careful, check your Star Calendar to make sure you’re doing the right plant on the right day.

Predicting the Future

Call it analysis of trends, divination, speculation or anything else for that matter, predicting the future is something that occupies a lot of people’s attention. What we do now depends a great deal on what we imagine the consequences might be. Sometimes our collective imaginations seem woefully lacking. We’re collectively rather good at imagining wonderful things, and loathe to see the dangers. We don’t want to hear what our self indulgence is going to cost, or to believe that we can’t have everything, gift wrapped in plastic.

Who could have predicted that the banking system would go so wildly wrong? I did. I was saying years ago that the levels of personal debt weren’t sustainable, that the mortgage situation wasn’t clever. I didn’t know about the house of cards built on these things, but I can say with confidence it did not take a genius to see where the problems were. It does not take a genius to figure out that you can’t have an economic system based on ideas of perpetual growth when you only have finite resources, yet politics and business run on as though infinite growth is both possible and desirable.

I’ve worked with fortune telling over the years, and the one thing I’ve learned as a certainty is this: We shape the future in the present. Every decision made today informs the options we have tomorrow. Often in ways that we don’t imagine. The smallest choice can have the most enormous fallout. And then there’s all the things we choose not to do, and all their consequences. Each one of us is helping to shape what the future might be, closing down some possibilities, opening up others.

The biggest mistake you can make, as an individual or at more collective levels, is to imagine that what you do now won’t limit what you can do later. The future is not some distant shining thing where it’s all going to be just fine. The future is born of now. What exactly are we shaping? What will this moment give birth to? What will it kill?

If we borrow money, resources, options from the future, we have to pay that back sometime, or our children do. If for the sake of the financial present, we take more than any of us can afford, and we delay fixing expensive problems, we will pay, and pay again, and pay with interest. Debts do not go away if we put our fingers in our ears, close our eyes, sing loudly and pretend we owe nothing. And not just the financial debts that are causing so much difficulty, but our borrowings from the environment, from a planet that is not going to be able to bank us indefinitely if we go on consuming like this.

Every choice we make is an ethical one. Even the small decisions that do not seem important. Every single thing we do has consequences. We are shaping the future, now, with what we do, and decline to do. Frankly that worries me. I see too many individuals, too many politicians and other folks in positions of power, so obsessed with immediate gain that they are blind to longer term costs. We are going to have to pay. Our children and grandchildren are going to have to pay. The planet and every other living thing on it is going to be made to pay for our greed and short term attitudes. We are shaping the future now. And really, we need to get this right.