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.

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