Organic Gardening

Get dirty, have fun and grow more food with great gardening tips from real-life gardeners.

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Making your home garden productive is an in-depth and gradual process. Though you can work with a design professional to hash out a use plan and plant list early on, it still takes several phases and periods of acclimation for a garden to begin to really thrive.

Assessing Your Various Microclimates

Assessing where the best sun is and where different microclimates lie can begin to help define use areas.  As each exposure and conditions create a different microclimate, you may have three to four distinct areas at your home, each with their own strengths and setbacks — even in a small urban lot. Best to work with the forces of nature to create plant groupings that reflect the microclimate of each area.

For example, if you try to grow your micro-greens in a hot,south-facing front yard, they may quickly become stressed from the sun’s intensity. Likewise, should you attempt to grow your heirloom tomatoes under that giant Italian stone pine in the backyard, you may become frustrated as it appears to stay stunted despite the loads of fertile organic compost you added.

As for a commercial example, if you were to try to grow two acres of carrots on a parcel of land, but only 3/4 of that land is in full sun, you may have trouble with carrot yields in the shadier area.  Would it not make more sense to work with the lay-of-the-land and plant something more shade-loving in that shadier area?

By working with nature and taking the time to assess the nuances of microclimates on our land, we can most affectively develop a polycultural system of diverse, healthy foods.


Consider Sun and Shade

A great quote from pioneering polycultural designer Bill Mollison is “Don’t just do something, stand there.” Take the time to observe how the sun crosses over your property. By doing this, you will know in your bones the way the arc of the season’s sun arrives across your land. This will let you see what areas receive the best and longest sun during the crucial fruit-making hours of 11a.m. to 3p.m. These areas will be your choice areas for fruit production but is not the subject of today’s blog post.

As for the rest of the property, work with marginal or shady areas by assessing plants that don't mind the shade. Many greens and culinary herbs originate in meadows and forest under-stories where the light is dappled. Because they do not have the pressure to produce fruiting bodies, greens are able to stay healthy in less than full sun.

Of course, they will grow larger and faster in full sun with ample water, but in limited scale, we can save the full sun for crops like fruit trees and tomatoes and squash, leaving the greens for the less-desired light shade. In this way, we create a crop that requires less daily water uptake than when in full sun, while taking advantage of a marginal shade zone.

Planting at the Margins

So, greens are now in the shade and our choice full-sun zone is now completely planted; how might we continue to add surplus crops to the remaining margins?

One simple addition that I love is to plant hearty annuals in the basins at the base of each fruit tree. Particularly when using drip irrigation, there is already a water source at each fruit tree. In this way, the secondary understory crop is acting as a green mulch for the fruit tree, reducing weeds as well as slowing evapotranspiration.

I have had success particularly with beans, peas and arugula. These crops are bonuses and when you direct-sow with bulk seed, it costs pennies on the dollar to add these to your existing food system.

Finally, what to do with those unused margins? Perhaps there is a rocky patch at the edge of your production zone that simply is not ideal for agriculture. Or perhaps there is that upslope area that is difficult to irrigate.

My solution for these marginal margins is to plant native plants and drought-tolerant Mediterranean species. In each case, these plants have evolved to adapt to local conditions and require far less water and nutrients than wet, lush food crops.

Here in California, one can create much more edible abundance by shifting even some of production crops to more drought-tolerant perennials such as pomegranate, persimmon, fig and olive.

As for the natives, they can provide insectary zones adjacent to your crops, which will ensure that your food crops get regularly pollinated. Think of these native flower zones as apartment complexes for beneficial insects. It is my great joy to return to a garden I have designed and see resident bee populations able to stay in the vicinity due to year-round pollen on-site.

Start utilizing the margins in your garden and beginning yielding more for your community.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.


Lettuce Flowers and Herbs 

Permaculture is creating a synergistic garden; one that is symbiotic and supporting. It includes enriching the soil, planting for nutrients, planting for shade, planting for food, landscaping for water, planting to attract beneficial insects, planting to repel bad bugs, planting to optimize your harvests. It is all of this combined to create a self-sustaining garden and yard.

You can go big and do it all or start small and work your way into a full permaculture yard.

If you are just getting started, the first step is planning. For planning, I would join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to find out what grows well in your area and what you like to eat that can be grown locally. You will get fresh nutritious food while supporting your local farmer. It was amazing how well we ate and how small our grocery bill was when we first joined a CSA! We also discovered many vegetables that we loved but had never eaten.

Before placing your garden bed, look at how your water drains. Create small swells/berms to move the water to where you want it to go-like your vegetables. Utilize rain barrels to capture water. There are some quite attractive rain barrels available on line and even at big box stores. Together these will significantly reduce your watering needs.

Next, determine how the sun traverses through your yard. You will want to put the sun lovers where they get southern exposure. Add shade to reduce your utility bills and give relief to your plants. In the spring, all of your vegetables love the sun. Come summer, many appreciate some shade and cooler temperatures, particularly greens. Even peppers get sunburned when temps get in the 90’s in full sun all day. Some relief from afternoon soon is appreciated.

When you are thinking of where to place those shade trees and bushes, consider adding fruit trees and bushes that you and the birds will enjoy. Planting trees and bushes provide shelter for birds that love to eat insects. Look for trees and bushes that also provide food for the birds, including winter berries. Birds help to keep the garden in balance. Don’t forget a water source so they can get a drink. Make sure the water stays clean or the birds can get sick just like we do from contaminated water.

Now you are ready to place your garden bed. For prepping the soil, a super easy method is to do sheet mulching which I outlined here: Easy ways to make a new garden bed.

You are basically composting in place, building incredible rich soil, alive with microbial and worm activity, which provide all the nourishment plants need to thrive. The great thing about this technique is that no tilling is required! Prepare in the fall and by spring, the bed is ready for planting.

When the garden bed is ready for planting, do a soil test, add the nutrients indicated. I also add minerals to the soil as most soil today is depleted of their minerals. After getting your soil in balance, you will be able to grow the right crops in the right rotational order and compost to keep the soil fertile and in balance without outside inputs.

Start ongoing composting to maintain your soil fertility after getting it established. Even if you live in an apartment, there are options for composting.  Here are some ideas: Composting in small spaces. Using mulch to suppress weeds does double duty, adding organic matter and building soil fertility.

Vegetables and Herbs 

Beneficial, pollinating insects love the herbal flowers and the ornamental flowers. The pollinators insure the vegetable flowers are pollinated to produce their fruits. If the flowers are not pollinated, they will just fall off. We garden organically and only use organic insecticides in dire times. Insecticides don’t know the difference between a good bug and a bad bug; it kills them all. If you can wait, the bad bugs will attract the good bugs that eat them. Then, you will have balance. The first year, I bought insects that feed on the bad insects (lady bugs, parasitic wasps, and preying mantis). It takes them a year or two to get established.

You can add beekeeping to your yard. Or if that is not feasible, just placing mason bee homes on trees will attract these natives to your yard for pollinating.

You can plant flowers that naturally repel the bad bugs like nasturtium and wild marigold (tagetes minuta). Even deer do not like the fragrance of marigolds.  Sometimes just surrounding your garden with marigolds and fragrant Mediterranean herbs is enough to keep the deer out of your garden.  I put nasturtium in pots and circle the garden bed with marigolds.

Interplanting vegetables and herbs that support others is a win-win. An example is placing “nitrogen fixers” next to plants that love nitrogen. You can also place nitrogen lovers in the spot the nitrogen fixers were.  Be conscious of how you interplant and succession plant your vegetables to keep the soil in balance and give each vegetable the nutrients it needs. Well known nitrogen fixers are peas and beans. Clover also does the job and it is edible.

Edible Daylilies Garden Bed

By having a variety of plants mixed in your garden, the bugs that prey on one type of plant will not be able to just hop next door for their next meal. This keeps uncontrollable infestations from occurring.

A couple of common plants that bring an assortment of nutrients up from deep in the soil are mustard and dandelions. If you want a larger leaf dandelion, cultivated types like the French dandelion is the ticket. You get great salad greens even in the heat of summer and an auto nutrient fertilizer.

There are even plants that are good for breaking up your soil. These are ones that go deep, like daikon, chicory, dandelion, and mustard.

This is just some of the highlights of permaculture gardening techniques to give you an idea of what it is about.

For more tips on organic, natural gardening in small spaces and containers, see Melodie’s blog at Victory Garden On the Golf Course.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



It has been nearly 10 years since my husband and I began selling our excess produce to restaurants and retail establishments within our community. This small leap of faith took us from backyard gardeners to full time farmers at our current farm, Tierra Garden Organics. Oftentimes, on-farm enterprises take root because there is an excess of abundance above and beyond the gardener’s own personal needs. Once the deep freeze is overflowing, the canning is done and the dehydrator is full to the brim, it is time to consider finding a market for your extra produce.  Sometimes, you may only have an excess of one or two crops. In this situation, jumping through the hoops of joining a local farmers market does not really make sense; especially if your bounty is ephemeral in nature (like an excess of beans or peas). However, many local restaurants are keen to start exploring the option of buying local and your overproduction may be the windfall that they are searching for.  Working with restaurants can be tricky for the uninitiated. If you haven’t worked in a production kitchen, you may not be familiar with the pressures or pace of a busy restaurant. Understanding these constraints will ultimately put you a leg ahead when diving into the world of farm-to-table.

Here are a few tips to building a strong relationship with your local restaurants:

Don’t Sell Shake- First and foremost, it is important that the produce you are looking to sell is high quality. This translates into a crop that has been harvested at the correct time of day, has been kept properly hydrated, is relatively blemish free, is of consistent size and color and is as fresh as possible. If you have picked too many beans and are looking for a home for the extra, the time to start calling restaurants is immediately after harvest, not a week after they have been sitting in the fridge. This can take some practice, but it is possible to ‘cruise’ your garden pre-harvest and begin to determine which crops are producing in excess. If you can see ahead of time that you are going to be harvesting way too many zucchini, start calling ahead before the zucchini are ready to be picked and begin to make connections with restaurants that may be interested in purchasing your excess.

Keep It Clean- Busy chefs do not have time to wash away your garden dirt. Properly clean your produce before delivering. Some items are best left unwashed to maintain freshness. Be sure to communicate this with the kitchen ahead of time to see if they have a preference for how the product is delivered. Salad mix and cut greens should be triple-washed and free of weeds. Root crops should be topped and power-washed to remove excess soil.  Spent blossoms should be removed from squashes and cucumbers. All items should be put into a clean container for delivery. Delivering a dirty, raw product is the easiest way to prematurely end a budding farmer-to-chef relationship.


Price Accordingly- If you aren’t a high-end boutique specialty farm, then don’t price your produce like you are. Ultimately, you are looking to form a long-term relationship with another business. Mutual respect is key. Ask for pricing guidance. Many restaurants are willing to share their price sheets from large distributors. Do your best to match or beat the pricing they are receiving until you have established a relationship where the quality of your produce is no longer in question. By contacting a restaurant, you are asking a busy business owner to go out of their way to work directly with you rather than placing a wholesale order through a major distributor. It is up to you to prove to them that the effort is worth their time.

Deliver in a Timely Manner- If you say you are going to deliver Friday morning, then deliver Friday morning. If you are going to be late then call ahead and give the kitchen a heads-up. For the sake of other local growers who are also looking to establish farm-to-table relationships, it is up to you to set a good example and prove to your client that you can be reliable. Oftentimes, restaurants have planned meals based off of your delivery promises. If you don’t deliver on time, they cannot prepare your produce as part of their menu.


Be Prompt With Invoices- Whether you like it or not, selling produce is a business transaction. The restaurant you are working with will need an invoice for their taxes. Use a numbered receipt book to track and itemize the produce you have delivered. All restaurants have a different style when it comes to payment; some pay on delivery, some pay weekly, every two weeks or monthly. Your job is to be sure you create a proper invoice so that you can be reimbursed for your products.  If your restaurant client accidentally loses your invoice in the hustle and bustle of the kitchen, it will be up to you to produce a replacement.

Working with local restaurants is one of the most rewarding parts of growing produce. It has always been exciting for me to see how the food we grow can be turned into culinary masterpieces to be enjoyed by others within our community. Local food culture starts by incubating this trust relationship between growers (both backyard and professional) and consumers.  Farm-to-Table is the keystone to building a strong, local food economy.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.


A Neighborhood Permaculture Convergence

If you Google search the words "Permaculture Convergence" you will find links to dozens of permaculture convergences over the past year up to the present. They are scattered all of the country. Northeast, Florida, Colorado, Ohio. Northern California, Wisconsin, So Cal, Australia. Last year there was a North American Permaculture Convergence in Minnesota. There may be a convergence close to where you live.

A convergence is a great opportunity to connect, teach, learn, have fun. It’s all about living in a more people- and planet-friendly way. Permaculture is an important banner that helps bring people together in ways that are positive, uplifting and empowering. A permaculture convergence energizes. People are reminded and updated about all the great work being done on behalf of a more peaceful and green planet.

This post will be the first of four describing the Northwest Permaculture Convergence to be held in Eugene, Oregon August 28 to 30, 2015. The author is the coordinator of the event. The Convergence will be at our neighborhood recreation center, seven minutes away by bike.

Permaculture Convergence 

A Short History of Permaculture Convergences in the Northwest

Permaculture convergences have been happening in the Northwest for at least twenty years. Lost Valley Education Center hosted several permaculture convergences in the mid 90s. That batch of convergences moved into Eugene for a number of years around 2003 then out to a friend's farm in a filbert grove for several years, and then they stopped about 2009.

Meanwhile, another set of convergences started in Washington State. This year's convergence in Eugene is the 8th of this lineage and the first south of Portland. This current grouping of Convergences has become larger than ones previously in and around Eugene. There is now a nonprofit board that oversees the convergences from year to year. The locations alternate between Oregon and Washington State.

Each year's location is determined by who is willing to take on the coordinating task in the state that is up to bat. This year, a proposal was made for Eugene and the decision was made. Some organizing tasks require locals while other tasks can be done remotely.

Converging in a Suburban Neighborhood

For the first time, this year's convergence will be held in a suburban neighborhood. The event we are planning goes well beyond other convergences I have been to, heard about or read about. The 2015 Northwest Permaculture Convergence has been designed as a model to be adapted elsewhere. Not only for other permaculture convergences but also for neighborhood-scale eco-fares, site tours and special interest tracks embedded within a convergence. These expansive event features can be powerful outreach tools whether they use the word permaculture or not.

One outreach event is called the Expo which will be free and open to the public. The Expo will include a kid zone, presentations, vendors, ten or so nonprofits, exhibits and artifacts that show and tell of green living tools and technologies and a neighborhood fruit and veggie swap.

Site Tours and Open Houses

Also free and open to the public will be site tours. One of the main reasons for hosting the 2015 Convergence here in River Road is because there are many properties in the neighborhood and nearby with many different features of interest for living more local, green and resilient. There are other sites in Eugene we also want to visit.

Lost Valley, Aprovecho and Fern Hill Sanctuary, within 20 miles of Eugene, will all have open houses to show and tell those important places of education for the new paradigm.

A Summit to Mainstream Green Neighborhoods

Another new feature or interest is the “Green Neighborhood Summit.” The Summit is an embedded track specific to people whose focus is greening their neighborhoods. The track will include several presentations, caucus time and a site tour that will be particularly interesting to neighborhood leaders, resiliency groups and Transition Towns advocates.

Organizing these outreach parts to the Convergence all require local know-how. We have had monthly potlucks for fun and team-building, and now we are moving into creating the game plan for set up and managing the event as it happens. The excitement is building!

The next two blog posts will go into more detail describing the program, Green Summit, Expo and site tours. There is a lot of “behind the scenes” work so we will touch on that as well. The purpose of the “Convergence Blogs” is offer encouragement and some useful pointers to others so they might take on organizing a neighborhood scale event for greening the neighborhood and the community.

Overall, the Convergence is to show and tell “evidence” of a preferred future. We want to identify the bits and pieces of the kind of world many of us would like to live in that are already here. Moreover, we want to go beyond description to describe how to take these great ideas further into the mainstream.

Please be looking for the next blog. If you have attended a convergence, please share it in the comments below and describe how it was for you. If you have helped organize a convergence or something similar, please share your experience.

Visit the Convergence website for more information. You can connect with Jan Spencer on her personal website, Suburban Permaculture.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.


“Bloom where you are planted.” Yes, we have heard this over and over. Once I settled into this idea it seems to work.

At 62 years of age and after a life threatening injury I quit “messing about with plants” and became serious about using what I have to the best of my ability. A 10th of an acre is enough and on some days more than I can handle. I am getting a bit stronger every day and am applying myself to blossoming right here.

This year we are growing tomatoes, all from seed, most of which we had saved from last year's favorites.

We purchased Berkeley Tie Dyed and Red Currant seeds from Territorial Seeds and acquired a Striped Roman Tomato at a plant swap. Our seed planting went better than expected and we soon had 150 plants in our living room, dining room and spare room. We sold a few, gave many away and planted 40 in our garden. As I planted I unfortunately broke the stems of a few plants. In hope I brought them in the house and put them in water glasses on a North facing window sill and added fresh, filtered water every day. Two weeks later they all had roots and went into pots for a bit longer.

Growing in the garden are: Costoluto Genovese, Roma, Striped Roman, Black Prince, Green Grape, Arkansas Traveler, Mortgage Lifter, Orange Ox Heart, Rutgers, Pink Brandy Wine, Berkeley Tie Dyed, and Red Currant. After the little seedl ings on the window sill went out we have a total of 50 plants in the ground.

We tend toward paste or sauce tomatoes because my husband Eric is a Master Food Preserver and makes and cans wonderful roasted tomato soup as well pasta sauce, ketchup, barbeque sauce, pizza sauce and salsa. Lucky me!!

Roasting Tomatoes

Do we grow anything other than tomatoes? Oh, yes. We have strawberries, black currants, blue berries, huckleberries, apple and cherry trees, hazelnut bushes, a bed of mixed salad greens and sugar pod peas, Anaheim peppers, sweet red peppers, Sun chokes, an artichoke, and a newly cleared area for Glass Gem corn, Amaranth, flax, Anasazi beans, slept and pumpkins. Late summer we will plant spinach, more salad greens and Swiss Chard to winter over.

Herbs, culinary and medicinal, are very important here. We have Rosemary, Chervil, Fennel, Dill, Thyme, Lemon Balm, Chocolate Mint, Tarragon, Savory, Bay, Yarrow, Comfrey, Chives and Lavender. Lots of Lavender. North Bank Urban Farm is Washington State's only urban lavender farm. We, at the latest count have 45 plants in the ground most of which are blooming.


We are adding a 100 square foot greenhouse which will make plant propagation and wintering over much easier and have two large compost bins for kitchen scraps, leaves, garden detritus, etc. It is wonderful compost and, I think, the real secret of our abundant harvests. That and lots of wood chip mulch.

This spring we have started selling at a local farmers market. It is slow going but we are making lots of friends and selling lavender products from our urban farm.

The first Sunday in August we will have an couple of “Open House” Sunday to share our little farm and enjoy the late summer days.

My point is, you do not have to have “land” to farm. You can farm where ever you are. Make the best use of your space, care for your soil, be thrifty with water and enjoy the garden and the fruits of your labor.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



Eleven years ago, my husband and I were in the market for a new garden shed to store and protect all of our gardening equipment. We had moved into our home a year earlier and all of this “stuff” had been left outside on the patio. Not only was it unsightly, but the wind and rain had started to cause the tools to rust and the wooden handles were starting to decay. Creatures such as spiders were making homes under the rototiller, lawn mower and chipper/shredder.

During our research, we discovered that there are many things to consider when looking for a shed. The first thing we needed to think about was how much space was needed to adequately store everything and still be easily accessible. I also wanted an area inside the shed were I could have a potting bench. We decided that a 10-foot by 10- or 12-foot shed would be just right for our stuff and the area we would be putting it in – a nice well-drained, high but level spot adjacent to our vegetable garden.

Another consideration was whether or not a permit was required. My husband inquired with our city and found out that the largest shed we could put up without a permit was 120 square feet - just right for our needs. The place we purchased our shed said that the 120 square-foot size is typical, but the permit requirements can vary from city to city. I suggest that you check with your city first to see what the permit requirements are.

Now for the shopping part: There are dozens of sheds to choose from, including those for the budget minded all the way to the money-is-no-object models. There are homemade sheds, metal sheds, plastic sheds, and wooden sheds. Styles vary from the standard flat roofs, peaks, or barns, to liveries and other western styles, just to get the list started. Wooden sheds offer various siding materials from inexpensive wafer board to T1-11 and everything in between. Sheds can be built on skids or be anchored to the ground. Optional items can include windows, turbines, skylights, different door styles and widths, porches and more.

Some sheds come in do-it-yourself kits, while others can be built on site or delivered completely built and placed on a level site.

Once the shed is built, some kind of protective material should be applied. If you choose a metal or plastic shed, this isn't usually necessary, but for wood, a good quality stain and water sealant or paint can make the shed last for years and years.

After extensive research and shopping around, we ended up choosing a barn-style shed from Shed World, happens to be in the city we live in. Although their prices were a tad higher than other places we checked out, we felt that the quality was well worth it. The shed has T1-11 siding, a roof that has overhangs all around (lets dust, bird droppings and rain fall to the ground rather than down the shed walls), shingle placement to withstand relatively high winds (common here in the High Desert of Southern California), flashing around the roof line for extra durability, heavy duty hinges and latches, and long-lasting heavy duty skids. The options we chose included two windows, plus a turbine to help keep the shed ventilated and cooler in the summer months.

We had the shed built on site because we didn't have the access for a delivery truck with the completed shed option. The company's builders arrived around 8 a.m. one morning with all of the required lumber and parts, and built the entire shed from scratch by 4 p.m. the same day.

The following weekend we moved all of our stuff inside and applied a quality stain - a barn red color for the siding with complementary white trim. To further enhance the looks, we added some low-water use plantings around the shed's perimeter.

Here we are 11 years later and the shed still looks great. Our research paid off in that we ended up with an attractive shed that is holding up very well, and is still addressing our needs.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.


If you missed Part 1, click here to read the beginning of this story.

The Abdomen of the Farm Body

Above the diaphragm, the boundary encompassing all life, are the reproductive, endocrine, digestive, and gas exchanging organs of your farm body. As plants drop fruits that rot, as manure hits the ground, the powers of digestion can be found as these materials transform from living matter to food for your soil biology and ultimately your crops.

Utilizing cover crops in between cash crops not only promotes this digestive quality of your farm, through the added digestible organic matter, it also encourages more biological activity within the soil, as covers are generally sown thickly which can, in turn, stimulate a healthy soil ecology.

The reproductive organs of your farm body are represented by the fecundity of your habitat.  Where there are layers upon layers of wild and cultivated flowering plants, fruits and vegetable bodies making seed, and the bees and native pollinators fill the skies, we know that the reproductive organ of the farm is healthy.

Plants are especially good indicators of this sort of imbalance. Most all of the organs of a plant exist outside their body. They require the surface of the soil and soil biology for digestion and circulation, and their endocrine system and reproductive system are totally dependent on pollinators.

When chemicals are introduced to these systems reducing pollinators or serious nutrients or soil biology have been lost through over-tilling or compaction, plants have a much more difficult time attracting the organisms they need to carry out their reproductive processes and the fruits and vegetables will drop in production and or become diseased. The reproductive wellness of the farm relies on management that promotes both plant and animal life on every level of the ecosystem and facilitates symbiotic insect to plant relationships.


Planting By the Moon

The farm body is also tuned and harmonized by the movements of the planets.  The Sun and Moon serving as the heartbeat, giving a rhythm to the plants and animals and facilitating growth and rest. The Moon governs all water within the farm body and care should be taken when planting or harvesting crops, based on its phase.

When the Moon is full or waxing, it is a wonderful time to sow crops, as the forces of the gravity pull the water up through the plants like the tides in the ocean. When the Moon is waning, it is a great time to harvest crops for storage as their water content will be lowest and produce will not be as likely to rot.

Planting seeds by the movement of the Moon through the zodiac, by utilizing a Biodynamic Planting Calendar, also aligns the farm body with the forces that govern the fruiting, flowering, leaf and root building. Sowing radishes when the Moon is in Taurus ensures that the seed is marked with the Earthen affinities that will enhance the growth of the root over any other part of the plant. Leaves should be planted when the Moon is in a Water sign, flowers in an Air sign, fruits in a Fire sign, and roots when the Moon is housed in an Earth sign.

All of the planets of the Solar System have their energies that affect every ecosystem on the planet, washing over the Earth in rhythmic waves. The closer the planet, the more day to day the influence, the further away the planet, the more long term and subtle the effects. (See Kollerstrom & Staudenmaier, 2001, in Biological Agriculture and Horticulture for more information.)


Ecological Farming Brings the Farm Body into Balance

Managing the relationships your crops and livestock have with the dynamic working parts of your farm body is what creates production longevity and sustainability. The forces of the expanding Universe act as accelerators, if the farm organism is facing illness, the condition is likely to spread into varying levels of the ecosystem very quickly.

Ecological farming is about achieving balance through rhythm. When we look into wild spaces we see what appears to be unlimited lawlessness, but it is the nature of life that creation rests on the precipice between organization and chaos.

Adding boundaries to your farm; mulching and cover cropping, perennials and wild habitat, this is what brings about the chaotic biology enough to spur organization. The introduction of chemicals, foreign materials, and inhibition of the ecology under foot disrupts this symphony of moving parts and perpetuates ailments through biological imbalances.

Limiting tilling practices, reducing bare soil, planting in tune with the movements of the Cosmos, and rotating livestock daily can coerce the accelerating forces of the Universe into abundance.

Find all of Darby's posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.

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