This year, I shall be mostly planting by the moon.

I’ve tried it before (a few times) and it seemed to work quite well, for as long as I did it. (Which, if I’m honest, wasn’t very long.)

But, as we want to be putting amazingly healthy herbs, fruits and veggies into the Lets Eat Local bags, making sure they’re buzzing with the right lunar vibes has to be on message – doesn’t it?

Now I’ve started, I remember why previous attempts lapsed pretty quickly. It’s so *%^&£ing complicated! There appear to be three different systems for planting by the moon – Synodic, Biodynamic and Sidereal – each of which have different instructions for any given day. Then there’s the waxing and waning bit which comes with its own set of rules – should you sow? – or harvest? or weed? Is it a good time to chop down trees? or open a bottle of wine?

Add to the mix the North Nodes and South Nodes and Perigees – which, as far as I can tell, give you a wee break from all that gardening and time to catch up on the housework.

One of my words for the year is ‘pragmatism’. In a ‘Just Do It’ moment (other tag lines are available) I bought Nick Kollerstrom’s book Gardening and Planting by the Moon 2015 and I’m just following that. It may be inaccurate in parts and in conflict with other systems, but to be honest, I’m past caring.

Leaf Day plantings
This being a Leaf Day means the herbs finally get potted on

So yesterday was a leaf day (the Moon being in Cancer) and I got busy sowing spinach and repotting lots of lovely herby leaf things – Moroccan mint for mint tea, Camellia sinensis assamica for tea tea – while David cut the leafy (and docky and creeping buttercuppy) grass. And it may be, because the moon is waxing, that the grass grows back too quickly and needs cutting again in days. And the roots on my leafy, herby things may not grow as well as they should, or may grow better than the leaves – who knows?

Gardening diary
This year, I will keep a gardening diary…

I’ll learn – in time – what works and what doesn’t. And, admitting at last that I probably won’t remember what I did 12 months hence, I’m using the book’s handy ‘week to a page’ diary format to actually make a note of what I’ve done.

Me? Writing in books? Anyone who knows me, knows that my books are my preciousssses – no notes allowed!  This moon thing must be driving me mad…

Expensive Mistakes No. 17

Our sweet potato problems started with this seemingly innocent bowl of soup
Our sweet potato problems started with this seemingly innocent bowl of soup

Last autumn, on a Scottish road trip that lasted all of 18 hours, I tasted sweet potato and coconut soup for the first time ever. Since then, I’ve been ever so slightly obsessed. First with tracking down the recipe, then with buying as many organic sweet potatoes and tins of organic coconut milk as our budget would allow.

I am a person of habit – a serious Pinterest habit in particular. So when my Pinterest feed popped up with a pin named Sweet Potatoes – your next cash crop, my mind raced ahead. Our own Moffat sweet potatoes in the Lets Eat Local veg bags. A high value cash crop for our smallholding (docks and nettles have little market value, I find).

A month or so later, I take delivery of two (rather expensive) packs of sweet potato slips – the bit that starts your sweet potato empire.

Now I’m not good at the 4P’s of growing – instead of Plan, Prepare, Purchase, Plant, my growing style is more 3B. Buy (on impulse), aBandon, Bin. But never were mere slips of plants more cherished than these bits of green.

Except. On Sunday night, they were left overnight in the greenhouse – it has to get really cold to cause problems for my plants in there. Especially in late April. But a devilish (and unexpected) sharp frost left the leaves of my poor Ipomoea batatas as slimy green mush.

I’ve radically pruned and they are in intensive care. There are wee green dots appearing in a few places – which may be the new shoots of recovery or just ambient greenfly. Time will tell.

To add insult to injury, it’s supposed to be really easy to grow your own sweet potato slips from organic sweet potatoes, though this may be another Pinterest peri-urban legend.

Plans for sweet potato market domination are currently on hold.

Mushroom growing anyone?