Biodynamic Course

I’m running a biodynamic course over 6 Saturdays in 2011 – Working with the Moon & Stars

1.      16 April – Using the Calendar. This first Saturday gets you going with understanding the basics of biodynamic gardening, what it is, what it does and how to work it.

2.      21 May – Prep 500. Using the horn manure preparation. We make the preparation today, bring a jam jar with lid and you can take some home for your garden

3.      18 June – Prep 501. Using the horn silica preparation

4.      23 July – Cow-Pat-Pit. Making and using this starter preparation

5.      1 October – Horn Stuffing. Making horn manure, preparation 500

6.      12 November – Composting. Using the compost preparations
Cost: £45/day or £250 if you book all 6 days together

Venue: Archenland – details of how to get here sent when you book

Time: 1030-1600

Lunch: bring a dish to share with everyone

Contact us to reserve a place for the series – get going with biodynamics, it’s organics with Oomph !!!

Wye’s Women

Elen Sentier & Jennie Russell-Smith

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Compost in the early winter

Paul beginning the leaf mould process

Paul is composting like there’s no tomorrow! And doing leaf mould. At present it’s just about getting the heaps together. We’re using Mausdorfer to each layer for now, when the heaps are big enough we’ll put the preps in and leave them to cook until March/April.

Again, we’re a bit behind – due to my shoulder op, Paul’s got to do all the other work until Midwinter as I’m not even allowed to push a mop around the kitchen floor. However, we’ll get there and we know we can rely on the preps to speed the compost along.

With leaf mould, if you run the lawnmower over them, chop them up and, at the same time, add a bit of grass in with them, the leaves go a hell of a lot faster. If you then add cow-pat-pit or Mausdorfer, then the compost preps, the whole thing can be ready by next autumn which is pretty good for leaves. As we’re putting both starters and preps on the leaf mould this year we wonder if it might even be ready before then – we’ll keep you posted here.

Elen Sentier

behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat …

Wye’s Women Elen’s Books Rainbow Warriors

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Veg Beds in November

Stirring 500 with a friend

I’m a bit stymied on this work this year because of the shoulder operation. It was very successful but it means I can’t do any heavy gardening – like turning over the veg beds – until February. I’ll just have to manage! It will mean the beds will have to be done all of a rush in the late winter though.

I managed to get some winter crops sown before I went into hospital and am allowed to do light weeding so I can keep the beds clean, no competition for my precious veg. the chinese greens are doing well, wonderful, tough plants they are that get going and keep going very well. The perpetual spinach will be sine too and the overwintering sprouting, broccoli, caulis et al are doing OK. The swedes and parsnips are amazing size already. As we’ve had a couple of frosts now they’re all very good to eat – winter stews are being added to the cookathons!

I didn’t get much winter salad into the poly tunnel before I went into hospital so I hope to get some going indoors and then gradually put it out for the spring. It’s far too cold to germinate out there now! As we’ve got leaf days in the NPT on Thu/Fri I hope to use them to sow some winter salad. I’ve been collecting old plastic boxes that the supermarket veg comes in for planting tubs, they’re very good and often already have holes in them, all I need now is something to stand them in to catch the water … a good hunt round the kitchen and scullery should find me something.

I also use the cardboard inners from toilet rolls as root-trainers – they come with the loo-roll and will decompose in the soil when the plants are transplanted so there’s no need to disturb the roots. Or to spend pounds on posh plastic (which won’t decompose and cost loads in energy to produce as well!) root-trainers from magazines and garden centres. I’m afraid I don’t subscribe to the spendaholic method of getting us out of recession!

I intend to sow some very early tomatoes, peas, beans – as I didn’t get the outside ones in the ground before hospital either! – for cropping in the polytunnel and greenhouse early next year. Not having had a greenhouse before I’ve not been able to do this for a long while, this year will be a bit of an experiment to see how it goes – have high hopes.

Elen Sentier

behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat …

Wye’s Women Elen’s Books Rainbow Warriors

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New Strawberry Plants

Strawberry Albion

Gardening with the Moon and Stars still involves all the ordinary work J.

This month I’m catching up with the soft fruit. We needed new strawberry plants so I decided to go for a new breed – Albion ever-bearer – rather than just taking runners from the old plants as I have been doing. The originals came from a friend, and to him from his Dad, and so on down the historical line. They’re good strawberries, and I still have them in a side bed, but they’re the old style that just fruit Albion and have the fruit for 3+ months every year.

The plug plants have just arrived and been stored in a bucket of earth through the cold weather we’ve just had here. It’s still cold but the sun’s come out so I’ll be out there doing over the strawberry beds preparing to plant up the plugs over the next couple of days – making the best of the weather.

As part of this I’ll be giving the beds a dollop of prep 500, horn manure, along with compost, some well-rotted cow manure, rock dust and wood ash. There’s not a root day between now and the weekend but we begin the Northern Planting Time (NPT) today which means the Earth is again drawing energy down into the soil for the roots. Doing 500 in the afternoon, in the NPT even if not a root day means I get 2 out of 3 right and will help the beds and the plants along.

Today is a flower day, as is tomorrow, then it’s leaf until Saturday when It’s fruit from the afternoon on, and through Sunday. I won’t be planting up the strawberries until the weekend as I want to do them on a fruit day to enhance conditions for the new plug plants, give them the best chance of doing well. But I can certainly get their bed ready for them.

As we go into the NPT today I can do the work in the right season. What I’m aiming for here is to get as many things on the side of the new plants as possible so I’m going to

  • Plant them on their own day, fruit day
  • In the afternoon
  • In the Northern Planting Time

o   The last two are both when the Earth is pulling energy down into the soil which will help the roots establish well – vital for you plants being transplanted

I’m very much looking forward to eating the strawberries next year! Planting them now, in November, in the late autumn/early winter means they have six months to establish themselves and get to good fruiting size for next summer. You can plant strawberries, all soft fruit, in the spring but don’t expect much of a harvest from them in their first year if you do, they haven’t had time to get going. Planting now gives a better harvest next summer.

Elen Sentier

behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat …

Wye’s Women Elen’s Books Rainbow Warriors

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