Seasonal Tips:March,April, May6th March 2020
Autumn Reflections: seasonal tips and jobs6th September 2020
Summer is a glorious time in the garden, a feast of delights, tender summer crops, and soft fruit galore.
Practising biodynamic mindfulness and daily observation, together with regular use of the biodynamic calendar and sprays, including Equisetum will help you and your garden glow with health and well being.
Gabriel Kaye, the BDA’s Director, and life long biodynamic practitioner adds:
“In a biodynamic garden we are looking to create healthy and harmonious relationship with the balance of nature while still getting the specific vegetables, fruit and flowers we want to feed ourselves and brighten our house and garden. Here, I’ve found frequent use of the biodynamic sprays really helpful:
- The biodynamic sprays (soil activator Horn Manure and plant heath giver/sunshine tonic Horn Silica) will give the garden and plants a real boost if used frequently. The soil activator is helpful when sowing, re-sowing and planting out at anytime over the summer, especially in dry periods. Best used at least monthly in transplanting time on a Root day – late afternoon/evening time. The plant health support that is the Horn Silica is an early morning spray, to be used before the sun gets hot (before 10am latest, earlier better). It helps in grey or damp periods bring in light qualities, it helps plants find their true nature and ripening, so good on green vegetables on Leaf days, on roots on Root days, etc. If doing a general ‘healthy garden’ application then a Flower/light day is good. Also very good to help the courgette family combat mildew attacks that often come from the stress of irregular watering rather than too much damp.
- In periods of drought use the preparation sprays in alternation in the evening as the light goes down. Also hoe regularly late in the day so the dew can penetrate the soil. As we explain below, hoeing for leaf plants on Leaf days and so on helps the strengthen the plants’ nature too so makes it more resilient.”
Planting Calendar: essential summer know-how
The beginning of June is an excellent time to transplant seedlings/young plants. Key dates are:
– 1st – 2nd June: Coincides with Root days – this will really help plants get established in their new place or new bigger pot.
– 21st June – 4th July: an extended window of opportunity; make the most of it, especially when the weather is favourable.
Be mindful…The Maria Thun planting calendar also gives indications of unfavourable planetary activity. These are times when gardening is best avoided, or e.g. a good time to apply preventative measures. Key dates here are:
– 3rd June / 5th June: The perigee moon (when it is closest to the earth) occurs on 3rd June, and the full moon is at its peak at 7pm on 5th June.Their combined effect is the ‘watery ‘influence of the moon will be particularly strong; this makes it a good time to apply the equisetum spray as a fungal preventative
– 4th – 6th June: this shows as a grey block in the Maria Thun planting calendar, and indicates unfavourable planetary activity. Sowing, planting, hoeing etc. is generally best avoided – but an ideal opportunity to practice ‘slow gardening’, to take time out, be mindful, and simply be in your garden rather than do. Take a stroll, for example, and really notice the changes, the health of your plants, or find a nice spot and sit and relax and send your garden some gratitude for all it gives.
Enhancing your plant health and vitality with hoeing
Maria Thun advocated the benefits of hoeing on the most favourable day for your crop type (i.e. hoe of a Leaf Day for leaf crops, Root Day for root crops etc.) to assist with your plants vitality. Maria Thun explains it can be very useful, especially if you were unable to sow your crop on a favourable day, as this will help to ameliorate this.
For fruit crops: To enhance your fruit crops then there are plenty of Fruit days in June: 7th – 8th June; from 8am 16th June; 17th June; 25th – 8am 27th June.
For leaf crops: hoeing would be most beneficial from 8am 13th – 3pm 14th June; from 5am 15th – 7am 16th June; from 8am 24th – 10pm 25th June.
Want the healthiest continual supply of salad leaves? Then choose Leaf days to sow your successional supply.
Leaf days in July are: 2nd – end of 3rd July, and from 12noon 10th – end of 11th July, are both two strong Leaf periods; slighter further into the month, 21st July is also favourable.
Harvesting your crops on the most favourable days in the planting calendar has shown to have a significant effect on keeping quality and flavour.
Strawberries are ripening so are best harvested on Fruit days, as are your early courgettes, French beans and broad beans – as they all belong in the fruit category of plants.
Fruit days in July are: from 7am 4th July ; from 8am 5th July ; from 4pm13th – 3pm 15th July.
There is another strong Fruit day period on 22nd July – 3pm 24th July
If you are harvesting your root crops, eg onions, beetroot, garlic, carrots etc then Root days are of course the most favourable – check your calendar for the best days.
Sowing dates for green manures these are best sown on “Leaf Days” – see below and check your calendar.
Harvesting soft fruit, choose Fruit days
Fruit days in August are: 10th -11th August; 18th – 9pm 20th August; and 28th – 4pm 29th August.
For seed saving: for fruit plants – use Fruit days as given above; for seeds of leaf plants use Leaf days, especially in the second half on the month, these being 17th – 12noon 18th August; and 26th August.
Similarly, harvest seeds of flower plants on Flower days – see your calendar.
NOTE: World Biodynamic Day, Sat 30th & Sun 31st May. This is an opportunity to connect with biodynamic farmers and gardeners everywhere and join in the annual global application of the soil activator/ horn manure Saturday evening, and the horn silica on Sunday morning
Mix n’ Match (Intercropping)
The peasant-pottager approach advocated by Kim Stoddart in the Climate Change Garden is a great way to maximise space in small gardens. Bee hero and botanist Dave Goulson, in his book The Garden Jungle, or Gardening to Save the Planet, is another fan. As he comments, not only do you get more harvests from the same patch but “there are fewer pests as they have to work harder to find their host plants.” A few of his suggestions for intercropping we wanted to share are:
- Plant lettuce in between rows of potatoes in spring, which can be harvested before the foliage gets too big to smother them
- Plant out young squash and courgette plants in May among garlic and onion sets, which are harvested before these really put a spurt on.
- Radishes between runner bean wigwams (small salad plants such as misticanza and rocket would be other possibilities)
- Plant strawberries under blackcurrant bushes
News flash: As we went to press, spotted this tweet from Dave Goulson about scientific study about companion planting borage with strawberries to increase yield
Paul Rainger, the BDA’s Communications Director, and keen gardener shares his thoughts for getting the most out of your garden
“As we move past June’s summer solstice, July and August usually grow hotter and drier and the watering can becomes your constant companion.
Using the biodynamic calendar is a tool I’ve really come to appreciate when sowing, and find it helps to ensure deeper roots and greater resilience. The risk of a late frost has passed by June. Although there are crops you can sow into August like spring cabbage, beetroot, chicory, radishes & turnips, I find June is the last busy month for sowing and transplanting. My best tip? I love to keep sowing salad crops like rocket and mixed salad leaves in old window boxes, on a leaf day in biodynamic planting calendar, to give a continuous summer supply.
Feed: Many plants are greedy as they grow most strongly, so now is the ideal time to try making your own feed from comfrey or nettles. A mixed comfrey and nettle tea is highly recommended as it gives you a good balance of macro and micronutrients. The nettles bump up nitrogen levels and the comfrey bumps up phosphorus. Plus, in the UK comfrey and nettles are very abundant.
Put nettles in a sack, immerse in water and cover, stirring every couple of days for 10 days. Add an equal quantity of fresh comfrey, torn up roughly to the sack and stir every two days for another seven days. For foliar application dilute 6 parts water to 1-part feed. For root feeds it can be used 3 parts water to 1-part feed.
Check: Your brassicas daily to wipe off any yellow or white butterfly eggs or pick off any caterpillars.
Carry on: nurturing your biodynamic compost heap. I have a compost bin that I constantly top up with garden debris, so I keep a small 100g bag of the biodynamic Mausdorf Starter handy and just sprinkle in a little more from time to time as I am topping the bin with new material.
Harvest : If like me, you autumn sow and overwinter your broad beans, onions and garlic, then you may be harvesting these by mid-June. Spring sowers may have to wait a little longer.
When picking salad crops, do so in the morning, store immediately in recyclable plastic bags in the fridge: this will keep the leaves turgid and at their freshest peak
Once picking the later veg, like green beans and courgettes, the age old advice is pick little and often to keep plants flowering into September is still the best!
Contemplate:Take time out to observe and contemplate what you are growing and the nature around you. Whatever form of relaxation works for you. I’ve got a hammock.”
Making a different salad every day from leaves of whatever salad plants are in the garden, supplemented with a few choice savoury extras on top, is the best thing ever to liven up your taste buds and really tune into seasonal eating.
- Lettuce: soft buttery butterheads, Baby Gem, and Lollo Rosso provide an excellent foundation for mixed green salads – the trick is to tear a few leaves to add bulk to your daily collection of other saladings.
- Misticanza: the gardener’s cut -and –come- again instant crop of salad leaves at a fraction of the cost, and much tastier than you will buy. Bulk out with lettuce leaves
- Edible flowers: a few edible flowers add piquancy and delight Favourites for summer include marigolds, nasturtium, borage, rocket and herb flowers – e.g. chives, thyme, mint, oregano, anise hyssop.
- Herbs: Chervil, dill, French tarragon, mint, coriander, basil (lots!), fennel, sorrel; fried sage leaves add a savoury crunch
- Fresh pea shoots: the easiest of all: sow marrow fat peas, and harvest when about 5 cms tall.
Let fennel, coriander, dill and chervil set seeds and harvest the seeds whilst still young and green. Delicious.
Fresh dried herbs: These have all the flavour of the fresh herb, and works especially well for parsley, oregano and mint. Strip the herb from their leaves, chop finely on a large wooden board, spread out thinly and leave to dry. Keep in the fridge.
Monty Don was waxing lyrically about Swiss Chard in a recent programme of Gardeners’ World. It’s one of the best and most versatile and prolific greens you can grow: pasta dishes, quiches, tarts, pies, soups, shredded finely, massaged with salt and eaten raw; or briefly boiled and tossed in live oil, garlic and chilli , no cook should be without it. Follow Monty’s advice and sow in June/July and it will last right through until next May. Brilliant for beginners, this chirpy video from Grow Veg shows you how
Another cook-gardener’s must-have. Homegrown broad beans are a luxury to be treasured. They can be picked at any stage, and also freeze exceptionally well.
- If you have lots, in Italy, the tiny down covered pods, no bigger than your little finger, are eaten raw and considered to be a delicacy.
- Once the pods fill, check them regularly: they should be bursting tight and the pods have a little residual wooliness, inside the scar on the bean will be white or green not black. This is when they are at their most tender and sweetest.
- As the pods get stiffer and shiny the beans get larger, tougher, more floury in texture and starchy in flavour. For salads and pasta dishes, once cooked, it’s a good idea to remove the skins.
- Finally, Broad beans and pasta are a marriage made in heaven.