Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Growing dogs by the moon

Dog Bean, now there’s a silly name for a seed. I mean, Dog Bean, like we think it’s going to grow up into a dog?

Anyway, I was given some dog bean seeds the other day. They are an heirloom dwarf French bean. It got me round to thinking about how seeds and plants get their names and what other names we might conjure up.

I mean dog bean , well, not much imagination there. If it’s a dwarf French bean and it needed to be called after a dog surely, French Poodle bean would have fitted better. After all, French Poodles are pretty dwarf but oh so showy!!!!

And then I thought about some flowers. I’ve got foxgloves growing - and I thought dog bean was silly!! Fox gloves! Have you ever seen a fox wearing gloves? And why would he? Monsieur Renard, your gants? I don’t think so!

Now as you know, I’m trying to follow the moon planting guidelines this year and am generally planting things on the correct day. This has proved a challenge on more than one occasion.

Take a lettuce, we need to produce leaves so we plant lettuces on a "leaf plant day". Now leaf plant days come around about every 8 to 10 days and usually there are two together.

So you have 2 days to sow your lettuce seeds.

Then 8 days later they are not really ready to pot on so you wait. By 12 days they are climbing the walls but you have to wait till 16 days before you can pot them on.

Another 8 days and they really aren’t ready to plant out so you wait another 8 days. 32 days after sowing they really still aren’t quite ready to go out into the big wide world so you wait again. Another 8 days. This is looking good, 40 days old and they are a nice size to plant out, they’ve even been hardened off ready.

Planting day arrives but it’s the one day this week we are not at home! Never mind tomorrow is ok. Tomorrow comes and it’s raining. When I say raining, I’m talking full blown Mediterranean raining.

It doesn’t rain much here but when it does then it makes up for it. Aquitaine was apparently named after the amount of rain that fell and it is still falling. So it’s raining and you wait for a dry spell, and you wait, and you wait and you wait.

As you are eating lunch you at last notice that the rain has stopped but by the time you can get the plants and get out into the garden the next deluge has started. If you planted in this the little plants would float away.

So forlornly you go back indoors and wait another 8 days – and exactly the same thing happens again!

So you check the charts for the following day and it says "Today is a good day for planting fruiting plants but would not be a good day for planting leaf plants".

You swear under your breath and plant them anyway, quietly telling your friends that you’re following the lunar cycle but occasionally you’re a day or two behind!

So that was my experience with lettuce. Oh and that rain. 30mm (about an inch and a quarter) of rain fell during daylight hours!!!!

Then came the strawberries.

This was going to be much easier. I had bought plants from a local nursery so all I needed was the right day to plant them out.

Strawberries, easy, a fruit plant, right?

But hang on! The Royal Horticultural Society, no less, advised me to plant the strawberries but not to let fruit set for the first year to encourage strong root growth.

So, I’m looking for root growth not fruit? Does that mean I should plant on a fruit day to get good fruit, or - on a root day to get good root growth?

Difficult question.

I threw it into one of the online gardening communities I belong to and caused some discussion. The advice came back that perhaps I should plant out between the fruiting plant day and the root plant day.

This was so simple! I had the answer. I just needed to check the appropriate days and then Presto!

Plant Fruiting Plants on Tuesday great,! Now root plants , oh here they are Plant Root Plants on Wednesday!

At long last I have now discovered what planting by the moon really means. At midnight, between Tuesday and Wednesday I was out in the garden, planting my little strawberry plants by the light of the moon.

Ian

2 comments:

Kate said...

I can't stop laughing! It is so true Ian. My friend Deb from Nirvana Farm, about 10 mins drive from my place lives biodynamics big time. She is biodynamic! Even she said to me the other day, when she gave me some little lettuce seedlings from her garden - go home and plant them straight away. I was shocked, knowing it was not a leaf day but she just smiled and said it was best I got them into the ground ASAP and that sometimes we can break the rules. What a relief! Anyway, my stuff grows OK mostly and I have never even looked at the moon in the middle of the day, ever before so why should I start now?

Happy gardening, anytime.

Heather said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this, Ian, and it reminds me of all the unclear compromises we end up making in other spheres!