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March in the garden

Just came in out of the garden on this bright, sunny St David’s day, the small amount of tête-à-tête daffodils are in full bloom, as they should be.

The fruit trees especially our two pear trees buds are fattening up, the cordon gooseberries which I was growing in pots but have recently replanted them into the garden are now showing healthy leaf bud growth.

Everything in the garden is awakening after the winter sleep, that’s not to say winter has departed far from it remember Hurricane Doris, before I digress to some other topic, the main job that I am doing at the moment is feeding plants that I have growing in pots.

Now normal gardeners will be reading this (hopefully) and thinking why is he feeding plants in pots at this moment in time. Well I garden differently to any other that I have met or read about and on this occasion I am thinking like a plant. What does a plant want after its winter hibernation, just like a bear it wants food and that is what I have been doing to my outdoor pot plants.

You would probably say ok he’s been adding fresh compost as a top up and you would be wrong. What I do is scrape away as much of the surface soil or compost to a reasonable depth taking care not to damage any surface roots of the the plant. To this small trench I add the food and by food I use banana skins, kitchen paper towels, small amounts of citrus peel and used teabags.

All of this material rots away into the growing medium giving your plant a slow release of goodness which by the powers of nature will find its way into the plants roots. Simple inexpensive way of feeding your plants, do the same to your garden plants. Come on there daylight hours left get outside and feed the garden.

One of the easiest veg to start off now are broad beans, sow them in modules or pots if the garden soil is too cold to plant out in a month or so. In the ground sow the beans 5cm -7cm deep, 20cm apart in blocks, leave 45cm between blocks or they will work just as well planted in big containers. Then wait for the reward of eating them raw from the pod when they are young and the skins are thin. That to me is when broad beans are at their best.

Until next time Good Gardening

Posted by on March 7th, 2017

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February in the garden

This is an in between time, a place on the edge. Winter is still with us, but within this is an awareness that Spring will soon come.

This is the time when the ideas we have been incubating in the winter months begin to come more of a reality. Like the life force of the land, everything is moving from the inside to the outside.

The Celtic festival of Imbolc celebrates the awakening of the life force. As you walk outside in the garden or countryside look for where nature is stirring. Keep a nature journal and write in the daily changes that you observe around you.

Keeping track of the weather is always interesting to look back on as well as first sightings of birds and plants, first trees unfurling their leaves etc.

If you are a regular walker in parks or the countryside or have one in the garden, choose one tree to observe over a year. Document the year’s cycle, the seasonal changes in the environment and wildlife.

Record the bird and insect life and the native plants growing nearby. Write about the different atmospheres that different times of the year bring and how the tree changes in different weathers.

Take photos from far away to close up, observe its place in the environment, let it feed your mind and write about in your journal from your heart and self feeling.

Do the same with one particular plant at a time, take photos beginning now in early spring. If you don’t know the plants name then use the photos for identification and use a good field guide when you are back indoors.

Really look into the plants history, why is it growing there, what are its uses, is it edible, is it used in herbal remedies. Get to know the plant inside out, photograph it in all its stages of growth as plants change considerably when growing from a seedling to a mature plant.

Once you have started you will go on in this manner to increase your knowledge of plants, plants have a lot to teach us so let them.

Until next time Good Gardening

Posted by on February 8th, 2017

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January in the garden

If you remember last I wrote a bit about dowsing with a pendulum in the garden, I’d like to continue on this theme if I may.

A dowsing pendulum can be a very successful tool when working with plants. It can help you decide which plants to place where in the garden, plants can be very particular about position. Is the soil right? Is the light right? Is the moisture right?

I have heard of a case of a shrub struggling to grow in a garden until the owner took a dowsing pendulum and used it to find the ideal place in the garden for the shrub, it is now thriving.

What some people don’t realise is that plants react very well to dowsing because they are very much part of the natural environment and the pendulum can pick up whether they are happy or not in their surroundings. Whether they are healthy and have been grown naturally rather than forced. The life forceps much stronger in a plant that has had the right time to mature naturally.

Once plants are happy in your garden or in your home you can still continue to work with your pendulum to keep them happy and healthy. You can check what kind of care you should give a plant. When to feed, when to prune or whether it’s time to split a group of plants.

In other words whether you use dowsing with a pendulum or not it teaches us to be mindful about our plants and the plants will respond to this by growing well.

Time to start thinking of what we are going to grow in 2017, are we going to stay with annuals, vegetables etc that never let us down or try new varieties.

Planning is easier said then done, I am not one of the best at planning but the growing season can be short or it can stretch through to November it’s England don’t forget, so a plan for all eventualities might be good.

One thing never neglect the birds that visit your gardens, please put out food for them in feeders and in the spring and summer they will repay you with their songs and they will eat your garden pests.

I grow fruit trees and I hang feeders on the branches until just before the blossom is fully out and I found that last year I had a bumper crop, could be just a coincidence with the weather etc being right. I like to think it was the birds.

Until next time Good Gardening

Posted by on January 17th, 2017

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December in the Garden - dowsing and the garden

A lot of us try to develop our gardening skills further, designing gardens for different uses, that is spiritual sanctuaries, vegetable patches etc. Even outside the confines of the home garden we become involved with community gardens or taking on an allotment, choosing to be more in control of our food, going back to nature and organically gardening.

In different ways, we are going back to the soil, realising how important it is to be in touch with nature in our increasingly busy and technical world.

Dowsing can be a very successful tool when you are working with plants, it can help you tune into nature and your subconscious, allowing you to see your surroundings in a new and deeper way. Dowsing can help you decide can help you how to design your garden, which plants to place where in the garden. It can help you make decisions about companion planting, choosing the best time to fertilise or feed your garden.

Plants react very well to dowsing after all they are the natural environment and the pendulum can pick up whether they are happy or not in their surroundings. The life force is much stronger in a plant that has had the right time to mature naturally.

If you keep an open mind you will learn that dowsing and gardening can combine, there is always something us gardeners can learn. Dowsing is a very ancient art, one that was absolutely natural, a normal part of everyday life in the past. But we have grown more technological in the way we look at the world and distanced ourselves from nature and the land, we have lost or at least forgotten a lot of knowledge that was taken for granted by our ancestors.

Dowsing has become ‘new age’, something a bit weird, something you don't really take seriously even something you laugh at. But the fact is that is that it does work even though no one can explain it, different experts have different ideas but the important thing is that it does work.

Often the first reaction to the unknown is to be sceptical. How does it work? Why does it work? It can’t possibly work,it’s all rubbish! That is often the path that our modern minds take. I’ll leave it there if I may and continue in a future column.

Until then I wish you the reader a Merry Christmas and a Peaceful New Year

Posted by on December 6th, 2016

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November in the garden

I thought I'd write about seasonal folklore as we are in the Halloween period of our calendar, so stay with me as I ramble on, hope you enjoy it.

From the Irish Gaelic “Summers End”, Samhain is perhaps the most famous of all great sabbats. It is a time when the veil that separates the seen and the unseen is at its thinnest - the laws of time and space are temporarily suspended allowing the spirit world to intermingle with the land of the living. If the Autumn Equinox was a time for reflection then Samhain is a time for introspection, to look within at who we truly are.

Pronounced Sow-en, Samhain is an ancient Celtic Fire Festival. The Celts regarded 31 October as the end of Summer and celebrated New Year on 1 November, following a lunar calendar the festivities always began at sundown on the evening before.

It is now known outside of pagan circles as “Halloween”, a corruption of “All Hallows Eve”. The festivity is so disconnected from its original meaning that most people don’t know why they go “trick or treating” (it stems from the tradition of leaving food on the doorstep for our dead ancestors.

The Celts burned great bonfires on this eve. Costumes were worn and dancing took place around the fire, these costumes were worn to honour the dead and allow them to be released from the earth. Ghoulish costumes were worn in the hope they would fool the malevolent spirits who might cross over into the land of the living and cause havoc. Special attire was worn to honour the Celtic Gods and Goddesses, giving thanks for the abundance of the harvest and to welcome their blessings for the coming year.

Around this time of year as well Gwnn App Nudd - known as the King of the Faeries who is said to live in his mythical castle beneath Glastonbury Tor, he is also known as a Guardian God of the Celtic underworld venerated as a hunter stretching back at least to the Iron Age, traditionally rides out each Samhain scouring the countryside for the spirits of the dead on his white horse Du gathering souls together to lead them to the Land of the Ever Young.

A few snippets of folklore for you to read as sip your preferred beverage and rest from gardening.

Thanks for reading

 

Posted by on November 8th, 2016

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October in the garden

Show the slightest bit of concern for the environment and you get labelled a tree hugger. Is a tree hugger some dazed hippy who goes around giving hugs to trees as a way of connecting with nature?

You might be shocked to learn the real origin of the term. The first tree hungers were 294 men and 69 women belonging to the Bishnois branch Hinduism who in 1730 died while trying to protect the trees in their village from being turned into raw material for building a palace.

They literally clung to the trees while being slaughtered by the foresters. Their brave action led to a royal decree prohibiting the cutting down of trees in any Bishnois village. Now these villages are virtual wooded oases amidst an otherwise desert landscape.

Not only that, the Bishnois inspired the Chipko movement (Chipko means ‘to cling’ in Hindi) that started in the 1970’s, when a group of women in the Himalayan hills of Northern India threw their arms around trees designated to be cut down.

Within a few years this tactic also known as tree satyagraha (loosely translated means insistence on truth) had spread across India ultimately forcing reforms in forestry on tree felling in the Himalayan regions. Despite powerful history of non violent resistance “tree hugger” is still a derogatory term not so in my opinion.

Recently some asked me about their small wildflower meadow that they had turned their garden into. Last year they had sown a perennial wildflower seed mix and had a impressive display of corncockle, cornflower, poppies, corn marigold, it was cut last October and left. This year not a single bloom, what's happened?

Well it sounds as if the seed mix was more annual than perennial, wildflower meadows tend to be a riot of colour the first year then a balance happens, some species are crowded out while others settle in.

If you want some annuals you may have to re-sow in the spring. Removing the cut material after the seed has dropped would be beneficial for extra light to penetrate.

Reputable seed company as supplier of your seed, some companies keep their seed for years and years decreasing the viability of the seed to germinate so choose wisely.
Until next time Good Gardening

Posted by on October 10th, 2016

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September in the garden

Hi, my name is Peter Frances a.k.a. the Hairygardener

Using Crystals in your garden to help keep your plants healthy could be classed as a bit too quirky for some gardeners but apparently it works, what percentage of success using crystals achieves I’ve no idea at the moment but why not give it a try.

Crystals, being from the earth, are not only useful in healing the body and mind, but also in healing the earth itself. The surroundings you live in, if these aren’t healthy then this can reflect back on you.

Have a look at your garden, this can be anything from a couple of flowerpots to a country estate, any garden can benefit from a bit of crystal help. Crystals placed in and around your garden will make for healthier, more productive plants.

All living things have energy and all, our plants from trees to seedlings are no different and just as certain crystals heal certain physical ailments in our bodies and minds, so there are certain crystals that make your garden more productive and healthy.

Moss Agate is probably the most beneficial stone when you want increased plant growth. It  has become known as the gardeners talisman. Moss Agate is a healing stone and is associated with nature spirits and wearing it while gardening can increase your energy, relieve a stiff neck and tune you in to the energies of your garden. Placing moss agate stones in containers or in the ground will increase flower and plant growth and if you have fruit trees try hanging a moss agate stone from one of the branches to promote a healthy harvest.

Malachite is another green stone useful in the garden and was used by the Ancient Egyptians. Malachite is healing crystal and will encourage healthy growth and abundance from your plants. It is also a protective stone and protects you from negative influences so it very effective indoors placed near computers and televisions removing the negative energies from these devices.

Green Calcite is a calming, soothing stone, a healing stone. If your property is too loud, crowded or over active, you can place green calcite in a flowerpot or under a tree to soothe the area.

Moonstone is a crystal associated with the moon, a favourite of Native American Indian healers, it encourages healthy plants and flowers and promotes a soothing, restful area. Carrying one in your pocket while gardening is helpful.

For those of us who have ponds a small Aquamarine crystal placed in the water will keep the fish and plants healthy. Sometimes we gardeners need all the help we can get so don’t dismiss the idea of crystals helping us and our gardens to become more healthy.

Until next time Good Gardening

 

Posted by on September 6th, 2016

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August in the garden

At the time of writing this article, I thought how quickly we have entered another of the Earths cycle of celebration. This day August 1st is known as Lammas in both pre and post Christian times.

Lammas is the Summers height and the celebration of the grain harvest, the first grain harvest of the year and grain from this was baked into loaves and then the loaves split into four pieces and a piece put in each of the four corners of the barn to protect the rest of the harvested grain.

In pre-supermarket days this harvest hopefully provided food that would sustain families throughout the winter but also the seed,which will grow again in the spring to bring the following years harvest.

What is also happening at Lammas that concerns us modern day gardeners, foragers and like-minded people is if you hadn’t already worked it out, is that the sun’s energy begins to wane and with this we will have learnt what has grown and what not grown successfully in our gardens and from experience there are always more delights than disappointments.

At this time of year you can start making Smudge Sticks. Smudging is a traditional way of cleansing and clearing energy. A bundle of dried herbs are lit and blown out and the glowing embers are blown on so that it smoulders and smokes. The smoke is then wafted around a space to clear away any negative energy.

They can be made of mixed bundles of herbs or a single herb. The herbs most commonly used are as follows Mugwort and Wormwood these bring clarity and insight, Coltsfoot and Mullein which give off a smoke that is beneficial to the lungs, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme aromatic herbs that have a lot of oil in their leaves, burn well and smell good.

To make these smudge sticks cut the herbs the day before you need them, they wilt overnight and are easier to bind the next day. Tie the stems together using natural material such as hemp string, cotton or raffia. Leave so long lengths of thread. Using one the threads wrap the bundle of herbs as tightly as you can as you wind down to the bottom of the bundle and back up again. Tie it off at the top and then do the same with the other length and tie it off again making a hanging loop.

Finally hang in a warm dry place to completely dry out before use.
 

Until next time Good Gardening

Posted by on August 9th, 2016

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