Tag Archives: veg

GWM – Sowing Root Crops

Today is a root day in the northern planting time, the last for a little while so I’m sowing turnip ‘Golden Ball’ and radish ‘Rosa’ in plugs. It’s great to get started on the new year.

I’ve just got my seed compost together. My mix is

  • 2 parts molehill-earth
  • 1 part leaf mold
  • 1/2 part sand
  • 1/2 part well-rotted manure

I sieve the lot together and keep in an old potato bag in the scullery where it’s free from frost and handy to use. I use vermiculite to cover the seeds, lets in light and has nice volcano-energy.

Before I use the compost it gets a treatment of Prep 500 to help the soil-life and mycorrhiza, stirring up the energies so it all works well together.

Will keep you posted on how they do … 🙂

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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GWM – Beginnings for Spring

Another fantastic afternoon in the garden. Cleared the rubbish from the Alchemy Garden – about 5 wheelbarrow-fulls of good compost material, I’ll put that in the bin tomorrow. Also carved – I mean pruned! – all the honeysuckle, aquebia and climbing rose on the arched walk out from the french windows that borders one side of the Alchemy garden. Now I can see what I’m doing!

Lots of stuff coming up already, bulbs of course but also the beginnings of the herbaceous plants. The forget-me-nots are going great guns, tough little buggers but so lovely when you get that haze of blue in a few weeks time. Pruned the roses too. Everything seems nice and healthy.

The nettles are doing well! When and where don’t they? Lots of hand-weeding there to come but I need the soil to be a little less frozen to make it easier!

We did the 12 days stirrings of 500 from 26th Dec to 6th Jan, including all the flower garden as well as the fruit and veg. You can sense the vigour it’s given to the soil and the soil-life.

We’re in a no-no period right now so clearing up is all that should be done at present as the soil-beings are cheerfully working away and don’t want us to interfere! However,  Sunday thro to Wednesday are all root days in the Northern Planting Time so I hope to get some early seeds sown then. Will post what next week. Will do a 500 stirring again too on one of those days. I usually do one to prep the seed compost before using it, so likely Monday – have friends round on sunday but the might like to stir so wait and see. Collected mole-hills yesterday – the best seed-growing material when mixed with sand. You don’t need rich soil for seeds as the seeds have all they need within them. Potting on you need more food.

My robin-friend from yesterday came to supervise my work – she said I was doing OK (wipes sweat form brow!). it is so delightful to have a robin companioning me as I garden, very special birds – at least for me 🙂

Elen Sentier

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

Wye’s Women Elen’s Books Rainbow Warriors
My profiles: FacebookWordPressYouTubeAmazonTwitter

GWM – Biodynamic Inspection

GWM BD Inspection

Archenland, our home, is Demeter certified so every year we are inspected to make sure we are still working along sound biodynamic lines and principles. We had our annual inspection today.

Having Richard, the inspector, round is always delightful if rigorous! We know him well but that doesn’t stop him asking poking questions and making sure we actually walk our talk – which is just how it should be. The Biodynamic Association, Demeter, is always concerned that all its members actually do practice biodynamics and do it properly. They give us a set of forms to complete which ask questions about …

  • Our land
  • What we grow
  • What outside input we do – like manure, compost, rock dust, calcium, lime etc.
  • What seeds we use – they must be at least organic and preferably biodynamic
  • What animals we keep, if any
  • What our crop rotation is
  • How wildlife friendly the garden is
  • What our pest control systems are
  • What composting we do
  • And … the most important … when we have put the preps on the garden during the past year

The fundamental part of biodynamics is putting the preparations on the land and in the compost. If you don’t do this you’re not working biodynamically. The planting calendar is secondary to using the preparations. We keep records in the diary of all the stirrings we do and which beds – particularly in the case of prep 501 – we spray. It’s very useful to us as well as necessary for the inspection.

Paul also keeps detailed records of what goes on each bed, each year, in terms of  …

  • Cow manure
  • Horse manure
  • Chicken manure – quite rare for us to be able to get
  • Pig manure – currently scarcer than hen’s teeth but I would like to use it, am hopeful to have a source for 2011
  • Homemade weed and vegetable compost
  • Bokashi compost & juice
  • Worm compost & juice
  • Basalt rock dust
  • Calcified seaweed & liquid
  • Local authority green manure
  • Leaf mould
  • Cow-pat-pit preparation
  • Liquid manure
  • Comfrey juice
  • Nettle tea feed
  • Nettle tea aphid killer
  • Horsetail tea fungus treatment

It’s a long list but it’s all good stuff!

Richard-the-Inspector likes to walk round the garden too – interesting this time as it was, as he put it, a winter wonderland out there with best part of a foot of snow covering everything. He wasn’t able to see much but did scrape off some snow and note the good condition of the soil beneath, commenting on the good use of organic matter to retain soil friability even under these harsh conditions. We can still dig leeks without breaking them!

Richard is interested to hear how we’re finding using the rock dust – we’ve been doing it for nearly four years now – and pleased that we notice how the veg beds that have had it produce stronger, healthier plants than those that haven’t. It really seems to add to the good effect of the preparations. We were talking about how there is no “magic bullet” but learning to work all things into an integrated whole makes the difference.

Mind you, the one thing we would never drop is doing the preparations, on the soil, the plants and in the compost heaps.

We’ve been doing more cow-pat-pit and Mausdorfer this past couple of years, partly because I’ve been in and out of hospital so much with the joint-replacement operations. This has meant not only has Paul had more to do in the garden but less time to do it in because of looking after me. Using these multi-preps – each of them contains all 6 of the compost preps – has helped get compost made and, by using cow-pat-pit directly on the land, has improved the beds without all the hard work of digging in compost. Richard asked if that meant we weren’t bothering with compost. Oh no, we said, we’re still making it and still find using real compost makes even more difference than just using the cow-pat-pit, but you always have to adjust your life to your circumstances and do the best you can. The two multi-preps have made it possible to do more biodynamics than we would have otherwise been able to because of me.

That’s something that Richard understands – doing the best you can.

Demeter isn’t the Spanish Inquisition! They very well understand that Life happens. Part of Richard’s job is to know when the people he’s inspecting really are doing their best and went they’re skiving. I strongly suspect that the number of skivers in BD is extremely small but I would never say we are a perfect lot without any failings!

People who decide to go for biodynamics, like most organic gardeners, do it because they feel it in their hearts not for any other reasons. We do it because it makes our hearts sing … and there is no better reason in the world for doing anything.

It was a good, thorough and rigorous inspection … we passed muster 🙂

Gardening with the Moon – Snowbound

Last time I was here I began with snow … and it’s here again now. We had a brief respite for a couple of days and then back came the snow. Yesterday, midwinter’s eve, saw the snow return, today we got some more. Hardly any folk on the road, which was good and a lovely pub lunch to celebrate Midwinter’s Day.

Well … back to gardening … there’s not a lot one can do in the snow so I’m back to planning again. We got the Stormy Hall biodynamic seed catalogue yesterday so there’s been some quality time by the woodburner with a pot (or 3) of tea and the questions …

  • What do we like eating?
  • What grew well this year?

I find those two are the best way to begin planning for next season’s growing. They’re followed by …

  • Which beds can be easily covered to exclude butterflies laying their eggs on brassicas?
  • How much polytunnel/greenhouse space have we got?

Biodynamics, organic or just plain ordinary, these four questions are fairly fundamental.

I was sorting seeds back in the autumn and came to quite a lot of conclusions but those still need refining. My next job is to go back over seeds we still have left from this year, I’ll want to know the following …

  • which are likely to be viable still?
  • which varieties did we like?

So planning is about bringing lots of things together.

I plan biodynamically though, like this …

Roots Leaves Flowers Fruit
Potatoes Spinach Cauliflowers Tomatoes
Parsnips Cabbage Broccoli Cucumber
Swede Brussels sprouts Purple sprouting Peppers
Turnip Kale Green sprouting Runner beans
Onions Leeks Calendula French beans
Beetroot Lettuce Geraniums Broad beans
Carrots Rocket Sage flowers(salad) Peas
Florence fennel Parsley Lavender Courgette
Mizuna Aubergine

That’s a reasonable list for our veg patch. Now I have to sort it into classes.

Butterflies Polytunnel Quick crop Succession
Roots Onions 

Beetroot

Carrots

Leaves Cabbage 

Brussels sprouts

Lettuce 

 

Lettuce Spinnach 

Cabbage

Flowers Cauliflowers 

Broccoli

Purple sprouting

Green sprouting

Cauliflowers
Fruits Tomatoes 

Cucumber

Peppers

Courgette

Aubergine

Broad beans 

Peas

I find this sort of planning very useful. It helps me to decide which beds to put what veg in. I do use rotation but not exclusively or religiously as I find it more helpful to work as above, planting in the biodynamic groups and then within what needs which sort of conditions for optimum growth.

However you decide to do you planning do take advantage of the season and do some.