Summertime!

June 6, 2016

Contributed by Deb

It’s June!

Schools are finishing and it will soon be officially Summer.  Graduations and weddings may be filling your calendar like they are ours.  Our youngest daughter is graduating from college next week!  We are thrilled to celebrate with her and to have reached our own milestone ~ all our children have safely made it to adulthood and are thriving and bursting with life.  We can’t say this has been an easy journey but it certainly has been fulfilling.

And… we remember summer vacation very well.  The children are excited, happy and full of energy.  Butterflies and lightening bugs seem to gather around them, don’t they?  How do you keep them busy and yet give them space to rest and to grow? How do you yourself have space to rest when you are now busier?

We’d like to share a few simple ideas with you ~

path by pastureAllow them access to the forests, fields and streams without any toys, instructions or classes.  Just let them explore, play and use their abundant imaginations.  Are you familiar with Jon Young, prominent outdoor leader and guide?  What’s the secret of his success with summer programs?  As soon as the children are dropped off, he and his fellow guides let the children run to the woods to play independently.  Of course, they are near by to watch out for the children’s safety and to answer questions but mostly, the children are encouraged to roam and play together ~ with sticks, in the mud, on tree roots… whatever they want.  They do games, rituals and storytelling at certain times but Jon says the bulk of the day is spent in independent play.

We wanted to take this chance to remind you that you don’t have to entertain or schedule your children every moment of every day.  They will thrive with space to go adventuring and exploring and they will learn more than you can even begin to imagine.

Look to Walt Whitman’s Poem, “There Was a Child Went Forth”, to show the transfer of wisdom and connection as children freely go about the world ~

THERE was a child went forth every day;
And the first object he look’d upon, that object he became;
And that object became part of him for the day, or a certain part of the day, or for many years, or stretching cycles of years.

The early lilacs became part of this child,
And grass, and white and red morning-glories, and white and red clover, and the song of the phoebe-bird,
And the Third-month lambs, and the sow’s pink-faint litter, and the mare’s foal, and the cow’s calf,
And the noisy brood of the barn-yard, or by the mire of the pond-side,
And the fish suspending themselves so curiously below there—and the beautiful curious liquid,
And the water-plants with their graceful flat heads—all became part of him.

The field-sprouts of Fourth-month and Fifth-month became part of him;
Winter-grain sprouts, and those of the light-yellow corn, and the esculent roots of the garden,
And the apple-trees cover’d with blossoms, and the fruit afterward, and wood-berries, and the commonest weeds by the road….

hayfield & mountainsAnd you, dear parent or grandparent, what of you?  Can you too go to the woods, lean your back against a tree and listen to the birds?  Can you take moments to just feel the breeze against your skin or to watch a sunset with your child?

If you need some assistance in slowing down, we’d like to introduce you to two green helpmates; oat straw and the flower essence of trout lily.

~ Oat straw can be made into a delicious infusion for whole family.  Buy it in bulk at your favorite health-food store and put one cup in a quart jar.  Pour boiling water to the top of the jar, cap it and let it sit for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.  Of course, you can let it sit for a shorter time and it becomes a pleasing tea.  Drain off the infusion and drink it throughout the day or under the tulip poplar tree.  Oat straw is calming and as you drink her, you are changed.

Trout Lily SF 900x900~ Trout lily flower essence offers total peace.  She invites us to witness her harmonious state through the way she moves in the breeze, bows her head in humility while also being vibrant and bright. She is continually grounded in the earth with her strong spotted leaves.  When we take this essence, we are able to access this same balance and harmony.

Of course, we need not look to Jon Young, Walt Whitman, scientists or Grandparents of the Forest to ascribe to a certain way of being in Nature because deep inside of us there is a place that remembers the need and desire to surrender to the beautiful tactile experience of being in Nature.

We are here to remind you to open the door a little wider to this yearning in your heart ~

May the starlit skies guide your path ~
Deb and Harry
Your Grandparents of the Forest

Go here to purchase trout lily flower essence ~

Go here for a one time mentorship with Deb, Harry or both of them ~

Deb, Harry, bee balmNature enthusiasts Harry LeBlanc and Deb Vail are at home in the forest hiking to reach beautiful vistas and searching for native plants in the southern Appalachians. They are co-founders of Grandparents of the Forest, an intimate business offering simple yet meaningful ways for children and their parents to connect to Nature for well-being and healing. They also make Sacred Forest® Flower Essences from the plants they encounter. They are former organic farmers and parents of 5 grown children.

Organized under Deb, Medicinal, Summer. No comments.

Heart Fullness

May 23, 2016

Contributed by Deb

Dear Ones,

Deb&BachelorsI’ve been fairly silent lately.  Sometimes, I just need to ponder things before I find my voice and if I try to force myself to speak too early, things come out garbled.  Does that happen to you?

Last night, in the middle of the night, as often happens, I was thinking about you mothers and caretakers and reflecting back to the days when my young children needed so much from me.  Now that I am grieving for those days (yes, it’s a big adjustment having an empty house), I often wonder how I could have been more present for my children in the midst of the chaos of getting them to school (or homeschooling them), feeding and tending them as well as trying to keep some order in the house… and trying have some kind of a life outside of these family responsibilities.

At the time, I was practicing mindfulness meditation and doing qi gong daily. They were my touchstones and helped me stay attentive.  But now, standing back from it all a few feet (or should I say a few years) what I really needed were heart fullness practices.  I ask myself, how could I have kept my heart open more?

I had been thinking that much of the answer to this query is in slowing down but last night, in the dark of the night, I realized more fully that it’s not just in slowing down and seeing.  It’s not just in connecting.  And I certainly don’t think it’s possible to be ‘present’ constantly.  What came to me in the wee hours was a step beyond keeping my heart open to my children:  I remembered the importance of being openhearted – with myself.

Oh, that I could go back to those days fully loving myself.  I don’t mean loving myself like with a verb, as in self-care ~ having retreat time for myself or getting my nails done, or taking a bath every night ~ as wonderful as those things are.  I mean having a gentle, tender and accepting presence with everything I experienced and felt and did back then.

I remember the days of reading parenting books and trying so hard to be all things to my children.  And when I failed, I became my own drill sergeant.  I’d schedule more, I’d try harder, I’d lay awake at night running through my day and trying to reshape it so that I would be or had been a better mom.  Even slowing down would become a goal, a ‘should’ and then, of course, it could be something I could fail at.  I hardly ever held my own heart.  I was rarely kind to myself.

So I ask, are you able to hold yourself and all of your beautiful womanly emotional ups and downs with generosity of spirit?

Imagine yourself, as I did in the middle of the night, lying on the grass with your hand on your heart while children run around beside you playing tag.

Imagine a little heart drawn in the center of your hand and one on your child’s hands.  She’d stop playing every once in a while and touch hearts with you – hand to hand.  Nature is helping you to remember your preciousness.  The sun is shining through the maple leaves and there’s a warm breeze on your cheeks and somehow, you know as if never before, you are being held.  Feeling the tree roots underneath you ~ you feel a firmness and connection to the earth that helps you to remember you belong.  Nature’s beneficence surrounds you.

Solomon's Seal SF 900x900How might this good earth show you the way to self-mercy?  How might it teach you about being enough? Who amongst the flowers might show you the way to letting go of perfection?  Which tree might show the way of a strong heart – one formed in total acceptance of all that resides and lives inside of us?

I can only imagine how having my own inner peace might have affected my children when they were young.  Now, I am using spacious heart practices with the hope that my children can feel the difference across the miles in their adult lives.

You, dear parents and caretakers, can stand in this fertile place of loving kindness and let everything else go.
No need to do anything any differently.  Just remember, place your hand on your heart some times and look to the plants, rain, sun, moon and the seasons to show you the gentle way.

With much love,
Deb

~ In honor of the blessing of mercy from the Solomon’s seal who live on my forest floor ~

If you are interested in Deb’s mentorship program, please go here.

For more information about how Solomon’s Seal flower essence might assist you, read our description here.

Deb, Harry, bee balmNature enthusiasts Harry LeBlanc and Deb Vail are at home in the forest hiking to reach beautiful vistas and searching for native plants in the southern Appalachians. They are co-founders of Grandparents of the Forest, an intimate business offering simple yet meaningful ways for children and their parents to connect to Nature for well-being and healing. They also make Sacred Forest® Flower Essences from the plants they encounter. They are former organic farmers and parents of 5 grown children.

Organized under Deb, Medicinal. No comments.

Local Treasures

May 10, 2016

Contributed by HarryHarry closeup glasses

Over Mother’s Day, we took a trip to Ohio to celebrate the family matriarch’s 90th birthday!

Two of the small towns we visited displayed perfect examples of being able to find ‘Nature’ just about anywhere you choose to seek it.

P1100581P1100654Chagrin Falls, Ohio has the picturesque Chagrin River (what else?) flowing through the center of town. What fish, reptiles (we saw a black water snake sunning on a rock in the middle of the river), amphibians, mollusks and birds (there were Canada geese strolling in the shallows between the two falls) would one find on close exploration?P1100601

Chagrin Falls also provides a beautiful park area next to the river and downtown with formal plantings, grassy lawns and shade trees. What other birds and insects and other creatures would provide study there?

 

Burton, Ohio has a central ‘square’ (a rectangle actually) with trees, lawn and other plantings. Many of the residences have lovely front yard gardens.

Not far from downtown Burton is a wetland area with trails. What plants and creatures make their home, permanently or transiently, there for someone to study with children or grandchildren?P1100645P1100674

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also near Burton is Punderson State Park offering a 150 acre lake and about 10 miles of trails open year-round. There’s a lot to explore there, too.

Surrounding both towns were miles of forest and farmland that were experiencing spring growth. Just from the road we could see skunk cabbage, mayapple and flowering trees and many other plants that would need closer inspection to identify. (Of course, always ask permission before exploring a neighbor’s or stranger’s property.)

Near our previous home there were the Haw River, Jordan Lake, Eno River State Park, Umstead State Park and much more.

And, of course, we now live near the Blue Ridge Parkway with trails to explore at many of the overlooks, the New River, The Watauga River, Grandfather Mountain State Park, Linville Falls,  Elk Knob State Park, our own back yard and so much more.

What Nature can you discover near your home?

Deb, Harry, bee balmNature enthusiasts Harry LeBlanc and Deb Vail are at home in the forest hiking to reach beautiful vistas and searching for native plants in the southern Appalachians. They are co-founders of Grandparents of the Forest, an intimate business offering simple yet meaningful ways for children and their parents to connect to Nature for well-being and healing. They also make Sacred Forest® Flower Essences from the plants they encounter. They are former organic farmers and parents of 5 grown children.

Organized under Harry, Uncategorized. No comments.

Happy Mothers Day

May 8, 2016

Contributed by Deb

Happy Mother’s Day!

fiddleheadsThe tradition of celebrating May Day began with a Roman Festival that honored Flora, the Goddess of Flowers and Bride of the West Wind?  Other early cultures also celebrated the beginning of summer near this date ~ for instance the second half of the Celtic Calendar began on May 1st, otherwise called Beltane, which they considered the first day of summer.  Celebrations would include wild dancing from sunrise all the way through the night with festivities that included spring tonics, flowers and feasting!  Left over food would be buried or left as an offering to the ‘fairy’.  This is the time to celebrate the Great Mother of all ~ Mother Earth.

Dancing in the open air without any worries is truly an entryway to the summer energy of bounty and bright cheer.  Plants are at their fullest expression of new life as they explode into the warm air, brighter days and soft rains.  Welcome to the blessings of summer, dear friends!  We hope you’ll take your children dancing on this special day!
Perhaps you’d like to dance around a maypole this year or do some research and resurrect spring traditions from your own heritage.

It is no surprise that the modern commercialized celebration of the Mother, in the form of Mother’s Day, comes at the beginning of this fertile time!  This year, Deb’s mother will be ninety years old, so indeed it is a special year for us.  Her mom is so healthy and vibrant that she still volunteers at the local hospital and takes care of the home she and deb’s Dad built in 1950.  She says the secret to her good health is a daily crossword puzzle as well as devotions, being outside ever day and using her exercise bike whenever she watches TV.  She still makes quilts – this year completing a special quilt for each of her 7 grandchildren.

Because this is our favorite season and in honor of this time of the Mother, we wanted to let you know about a few special things we are offering:

Ginger, Wild SF 900x900First let us remind you for the whole month of May, we will be sending packets of milkweed seeds with every order from our Grandparents of the Forest Apothecary Shop and we’ll include growing instructions, and information about milkweed and monarch butterflies.

As part of our Mothers Day celebration, nominate a special mother, your own or someone who has touched your life, by posting about her on our Facebook page, here.  Pausing to remember the life giving energy of motherhood connects us to both our children and to nature.

And just to let you know, we added a new and unique service.  Deb is making unique custom blends of flower essences as gifts for loved ones. You can read more about it here.

Enjoy this beautiful time of the year, dear friends.  Take your child into the gardens and forests and keep your eyes open for the budding of life and mystery.

Bounteous blessings to you and yours,
Your Grandparents of the Forest,
Deb and Harry

Deb, Harry, bee balmNature enthusiasts Harry LeBlanc and Deb Vail are at home in the forest hiking to reach beautiful vistas and searching for native plants in the southern Appalachians. They are co-founders of Grandparents of the Forest, an intimate business offering simple yet meaningful ways for children and their parents to connect to Nature for well-being and healing. They also make Sacred Forest® Flower Essences from the plants they encounter. They are former organic farmers and parents of 5 grown children.

Organized under Deb, Spring. No comments.

If You Need It…

May 1, 2016

Contributed by NicolasNicolas Graybear

There is a principal in ‘herbology’ that effectively says if you need it, it will appear… even if you don’t realize you need it. We experienced this phenomenon several times on the farm.

P1100242This year, the Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea) (also known as Gill-over-the-Ground) has REALLY increased it presence in our lawn and in the field up the hillside behind our home. With its square stem and stereotypical flowers, Ground Ivy is definitely a member of the mint family.

So the obvious question is: Why do we need it? What can it be used to treat?

One thing we knew is it has been used as a treatment for cancer. As far as we know, we are healthy in this respect.

Just last week a post was made on Facebook mentioning it was good for tinnitus.  After verifying this use in other sources, we tried it. (For definitive identity assistance, you might visit the Identify that Plant site.P1100239

Harry has had tinnitus for years… perhaps from hunting as a child with his Dad and Grandpa, perhaps from too many loud rock concerts during his college days… who knows.

Harry’s tinnitus stepped up a notch recently, from the constant high-pitch squeal or whistle to a noise that sounded more like spring peepers chirping… non-stop.

The recommended treatment is to drink a Ground Ivy infusion. An infusion is made by pouring boiling water over an ounce or so of plant material and letting it steep in a sealed container (like a capped Mason jar) for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight. Then strain the plant matter out and drink a cup or two of the liquid during the day.P1100244

After the first quart of infusion the peepers were silenced.  The squeal remains, but slightly diminished(?).

Here’s hoping for further improvement with more infusion! Luckily, the Ground Ivy will be available all summer.

 

 

 

Deb, Harry, bee balmNature enthusiasts Harry LeBlanc and Deb Vail are at home in the forest hiking to reach beautiful vistas and searching for native plants in the southern Appalachians. They are co-founders of Grandparents of the Forest, an intimate business offering simple yet meaningful ways for children and their parents to connect to Nature for well-being and healing. They also make Sacred Forest® Flower Essences from the plants they encounter. They are former organic farmers and parents of 5 grown children.

Organized under Herbs, Medicinal, Nicolas. No comments.

Repeating Spring

April 27, 2016

Contributed by HarryHarry closeup glasses

I hiked with one of our daughters this past weekend. P1100129

There was an area way up on the mountain, probably about 5,000 feet elevation were there were Spring Beauties and Trout Lilies galore. While we have hundreds of them in the woods above our house, there were Billions, if not Trillions, of them in this one large area along the trail!
‘Our’ Spring Beauties in the forest behind our home were done, but these were right at their peak!

P1100114
It reinforced for me how variable, adaptable and fluid Nature is and how someone could experience the same Spring conditions over and over and over again in a few weeks.
We could have gone down the mountain to the ‘flatlands’ to see these flowers a few weeks before they bloomed near our home. Seen them again a little higher up the mountain, again here at home and again higher up (like along that trail) yet elsewhere.
I see postings that proclaim dogwoods and redbuds bloomed weeks ago elsewhere while ours are just reaching their glory.
Our strawberries are just blooming here while they are already harvesting them at our old farm.

It’s like having a Replay button. Do you have friends or family that live further north or south or at lower or higher elevations you can visit to see Spring more than once?

Deb, Harry, bee balmNature enthusiasts Harry LeBlanc and Deb Vail are at home in the forest hiking to reach beautiful vistas and searching for native plants in the southern Appalachians. They are co-founders of Grandparents of the Forest, an intimate business offering simple yet meaningful ways for children and their parents to connect to Nature for well-being and healing. They also make Sacred Forest® Flower Essences from the plants they encounter. They are former organic farmers and parents of 5 grown children.

Organized under Harry, Spring. No comments.

Happy Earth Day

April 22, 2016

Contributed by Deb

Happy Earth Day!

Today is a special day to honor the Earth and show our gratitude for her gifts to us by giving back something to the Earth.

We, at Grandparents of the Forest, celebrate ‘Earth Day’ every day in some small way in our home, around our home and in our neighborhood.  Helping your child understand and appreciate the beautiful gifts of the earth is the biggest ‘give back’ you can do for the earth and your children.  Stewardship starts with respect and gratitude!

We’d love to share with you some ideas of things you could do with your children, both outdoors and indoors to celebrate Nature on this occasion.  We really do understand that you might like to be outside adventuring and exploring or gardening with your children and yet, you may not have the time to do it.  We’re here to help you to bring the outdoors inside also!

First of all, this is a great time to plant a garden.  If you are here in our community, you have probably received our garden guide.  We fully understand that some of you may not be able to do a whole garden (we offered suggestions for container gardening in our guide) so here are two other growing ideas.

blueberryhand~ Blueberry bushes are wonderful plants that can be integrated into your landscaping.  They are beautiful when they bloom in the spring and in the fall the leaves turn a lovely red.  They attract pollinators so your children might have a chance to spot some bees and butterflies.  And, of course, there are a plethora of health benefits for all of us when we eat these beautiful treasures.  Did you know that they have the ability to increase our brain power!  Check with your local extension agent to find out the best varieties for your area.

If you do have the chance to watch insects visit blueberry flowers, notice that butterflies with their long hollow straw-like mouth, the proboscis, approach the flower from the mouth of the bell to suck the nectar.  Bumblebees cheat!  They do not have a proboscis; their mouth parts are much shorter.  They cut a slit in the side of the bell-shaped blossom and get the nectar through that slit in the flower wall.  Honeybees cheat even more!  They wait for the bumblebee to cut the access and then the honeybees use the new hole!  Check it out.  Look at blueberry flowers and you will notice many of them have a little slit near the flower stem.

Moonflowers~ Moonflowers!  Do you have a patio, deck or fence – anywhere at all that you can put a plant that will climb?  It should be sturdy, because the moonflower vine can get quite large.  Moonflowers are amazingly beautiful and will quickly become a perfect addition to your family’s treasured memories.  They are related to morning glories and produce huge white blooms that unwind with a twist. Each blossom blooms only for one night.  Yes, we said night – thus the name.

Watch and you will see the night-flying moths come visit them. The flowers themselves reflect the moonlight and almost seem to be a light source themselves.  They will bloom all the way till your first frost.  Truly, they are a most desired fairy flower.  Look for them at your local nursery or at the farmers’ market.

Another unusual characteristic of the moonflower is the seeds are white!  At least the ‘good’ ones are.  We have found if they turn brown they are not as viable.  Soak the seeds overnight.  This will crack the seed shell and help it germinate… if you wish to grow your moonflowers from seed.

Here are some ideas of things to do inside your home with your children ~

scavanger hunt basket~ Scavenger hunt!  Why not have one inside?  You can make it a ritual as well.  How about every Friday night or rainy day?

Here’s a reminder of how to play ~
•  Collect some things from nature and hide them through the house.
(Here are some ideas of things to collect – a pinecone, pretty rock, geode, interesting shaped stick, clump of moss, animal bone, vanilla bean, turtle shell, antler, seed head, milkweed pod, dried rose petals or a seashell.)
•  Make a list of the items for your child
•  Have your child find them and bring them to you or if you have more than one child, have them make a drawing or checkmark beside each item and write a description of where it is.
•  When all the items are found, share a special treat together as you talk about each item.
~ Sources!  Another indoor game is to name different things in nature – wood, glass, paper, brick, wool, cotton, etc. and then ask your child to find as many things made out of these items as possible throughout your home.

~ I spy!  To play this game, one person spies something and the other person guesses what they are looking at. Make it nature friendly ~ I spy something wooden.  I spy something made out of sand.  I spy something that came from a sheep.  I spy something that came from a plant.  I spy something made from tree bark…

Every time your child recognizes another thing from Nature that is in your home, she will begin to realize that her whole life is supported by Nature.  This knowledge is a beautiful gift to give and one that will change your child’s worldview.

Finally, we hope that you will also remind your child the earth is inside of her.  We are all made of the Earth through the food we eat, the air we breathe and the water we drink.  We don’t have to go anywhere to find her.  The sun and water live inside of every cell in our bodies.  We can thank our bodies on Earth Day because we are part of the Earth!

We hope you enjoy these simple suggestions of things to do on Earth Day – and really – every day!

From our home to yours ~
Blessings, love and starlit nights…
Grandparents of the Forest
Deb and Harry

Deb, Harry, bee balmNature enthusiasts Harry LeBlanc and Deb Vail are at home in the forest hiking to reach beautiful vistas and searching for native plants in the southern Appalachians. They are co-founders of Grandparents of the Forest, an intimate business offering simple yet meaningful ways for children and their parents to connect to Nature for well-being and healing. They also make Sacred Forest® Flower Essences from the plants they encounter. They are former organic farmers and parents of 5 grown children.

Organized under Deb, Gardening, Spring. No comments.

Planting Asparagus

April 20, 2016

Contributed by HarryHarry closeup glasses

The asparagus crowns are in! Next spring we may taste; the following year we’ll eat a full meal! Yum.

P1090995While being serenaded by robins and red-wing blackbirds, ‘we’ dug a trench about 12 feet long by 12 inches wide by 8 inches deep (and had to extend it 3 more feet when we found our bundle of ten was a baker’s dozen). [Ha! Explain the origin of the probably archaic ‘baker’s dozen’ to your little ones.]

 

 

 

P1100025Next we shoveled about an inch layer of compost into the bottom of the trench and laid out the crowns like little octopi, the centers 12 inches apart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

P1100027Then more compost, unloaded by Deb, and alternating layers of dirt and compost to fill the trench. Lastly a good watering.P1100039

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some instructions say to only fill the trench half-way until the spears are up. We are expecting rain (The remnants of the terrible deluge that hit Houston, TX?) and we did not want the trench to fill with water.  I wonder how important this half-filled trench step is?  I cannot remember if I did this to the last asparagus bed I planted, but it produced for more than 16 years.

P1100018

‘Help’ from Eomer.

The next step is to mulch the new asparagus bed, which should produce for at least 15 years, if we care for it properly.

The last step is to wait: for the crowns to put up this year’s ‘fern’ growth to rejuvenate the buried crowns, for summer, fall and winter to pass and for the first spears to emerge NEXT spring!

One question I have is this: in North Carolina, the Cooperative Extension Service information pamphlet provided the above depth for setting the crowns. But what about areas that have colder winters (like we do) or areas further north? Should the crowns be set deeper if it is more likely to freeze more deeply into the soil?

P1100028(By the way, very thankfully, there were few large ‘cobbles’ to remove from the new bed!  But a few definitely turned out to be ‘flagstones’.)

 

 

 

 

Deb, Harry, bee balmNature enthusiasts Harry LeBlanc and Deb Vail are at home in the forest hiking to reach beautiful vistas and searching for native plants in the southern Appalachians. They are co-founders of Grandparents of the Forest, an intimate business offering simple yet meaningful ways for children and their parents to connect to Nature for well-being and healing. They also make Sacred Forest® Flower Essences from the plants they encounter. They are former organic farmers and parents of 5 grown children.

Organized under Gardening, Harry, Spring. No comments.

Biodynamic Calendar

March 19, 2016

Contributed by HarryHarry closeup glasses

When we farmed, we began using Biodynamic methods in 2003 in addition to the organic methods to which we adhered.

In the early 1920s, some farmers in Europe were noticing negative changes in the general health of their crops, livestock and farms. Some of this decline was attributed to the new synthetic fertilizers being introduced after World War I. Some of the followers of the philosopher Rudolf Steiner asked him for help.   In a single series of lectures he presented in June 1924, he proposed a set of agricultural principals and philosophy, which were actually founded on ancient traditional farming wisdom. His followers took his suggestions, researched them, expanded them and applied them. His teachings are some of the basis of what we call ‘organic’ farming today and more specifically what is now ‘Biodynamic’ farming.

Senposai

A 42-inch wide Senposai collard plant!

 

One small aspect of Biodynamics is a calendar to guide much of our activities. We still use the Biodynamic calendar for our gardening. There are other aspects of Biodynamics, which we will discuss at a later time.

We cannot explain why planting a tomato seed on one day (a so-called “Fruit day”) produces a healthier, more productive plant than starting that seed on another day (like a “Leaf day”). But, our experience showed us it does. It sounds like magic – maybe it is. All we know is it worked for us. Our customers were very happy with our produce and flowers.

The Biodynamic calendar has nothing to do the Farmers’ Almanac, Old Farmer’s Almanac or other almanac calendars. The Biodynamic calendar is based on the astronomical zodiac and the moon and planets, not astrology. (Stella Natura is the calendar we use. The North American Maria Thun Biodynamic Calendar is also available for North America.)

 

Basically, when the moon appears to pass ‘through’ constellations of the Ram (Aries), the Lion (Leo) and the Archer (Sagittarius) it is more favorable to work with plants we grow for their fruit. These are plants like tree fruits (apples, cherries, walnuts and avocados, etc.), legumes (beans, peas, etc.), cucurbits (cucumbers, melons, squash, etc.) the grains (corn, wheat, buckwheat, etc.), tomatoes, peppers and similar things. “Work with” means planting the seeds, transplanting seedlings, pruning, fertilizing, weeding and harvesting.

2-pound hakurai turnip

A 2-pound sweet, crisp Hakurai salad turnip!

As the moon passes through the Bull (Taurus), the Virgin (Virgo) and the Goat (Capricorn) it is preferable to work with plants whose ‘roots’ we want: carrots, beets, potatoes, onions, etc. Botanically, a potato is truly a stem and onions and garlic are actually leaves, but because they reside under the surface of the soil they are treated as roots.

There are similar periods for ‘leaf’ crops like lettuce, kale, chard, cabbage, etc. and yet other constellations influence ‘flower’ crops like all the ornamental and cut flowers and artichokes and broccoli (but not cauliflower, according to research, which is a ‘leaf’ crop – go figure).

In a 28-day lunar cycle, there will be 3 repetitions of Root, Flower, Leaf, and Fruit periods – in that specific order. Each period is a different length because the constellations are different sizes (unlike astrology): the Lion (Leo) Fruit period is 3 full days while the Crab (Cancer) Leaf period is about 30 hours.

 

When I first was learning about Biodynamic methods, it sounded like a lot of hooey and hocus-pocus. I was trained as a scientist not a magician or metaphysician. Well, scientists experiment. So I did. As my instructor passed on from his mentor, “Try it. You don’t have to believe it for it to work.” I tried it. It works. I still don’t understand how or why, but I believe it now.

 

Of course, planting and tending your plants on the ‘wrong’ day will not condemn them to debilitation and death, but why not give them every advantage you can.

 

It is time to garden!  Keep an eye on our FaceBook page, for updates on Biodynamic gardening. There are websites available that publish Biodynamic calendars online, (here is one, another and another) just don’t forget to translate the times to your location for the transitions from one period to the next.

 

Deb, Harry, bee balmNature enthusiasts Harry LeBlanc and Deb Vail are at home in the forest hiking to reach beautiful vistas and searching for native plants in the southern Appalachians. They are co-founders of Grandparents of the Forest, an intimate business offering simple yet meaningful ways for children and their parents to connect to Nature for well-being and healing. They also make Sacred Forest® Flower Essences from the plants they encounter. They are former organic farmers and parents of 5 grown children.

Organized under Gardening, Harry, Spring. No comments.

Signs of Spring!

March 12, 2016

Contributed by NicolasNicolas Graybear

We took advantage of a perfectly beautiful day to walk up our mountain to check on the progress of Spring.

One mission of our walk was to find the first wildflower of the season. We didn’t find it… yet. But… There are lots of tiny little plants peaking out through the leaf litter of the forest floor.

The coolest things we found were in or next to water.  In the next hollow over from ours, someone long ago built a little pond fairly high on the mountainside to catch water from a nice little stream coming off the mountain. After the water settles in the pond for a while, it leaves and tumbles down the slope, joining other streams, which join other streams, which join a river. All that water eventually finds its way to the Gulf of Mexico. (We are on the western side of the Eastern Continental Divide.)

We did find two other evidences of Spring.

frog egg mass

Think a deep-throated “Charump!” Or maybe it should be a higher pitched “Ribbet!”

Right! We saw some frogs swimming and jumping in the pond. They hid from us under the leaves and mud, so we could not identify them. (You would hide, too, if you saw something 100 times bigger than you coming towards your home!) But they left a huge mass of something that tells us they are there even if we had not seen them jump and swim.

Can you tell what is in the picture?

Of course!  Frog eggs!  You can see the big embryo in each transparent egg.  In a short time, we should be able to see a tiny tadpole wiggling in each egg.  This pond will be FULL of tadpoles soon!  If we had sat down and been very still and quiet, I bet the frogs would have come up and sang for us.

The other thing we saw, while not rare, is seldom noticed and recognized:

liverwort&moss

This plant that looks like lizard skin is a ‘liverwort’ (a bryophyte).  It is a ‘lower plant’, more primitive than ferns and mosses (some of which you can see poking out between the thallus (not a leaf or stem, but a ‘body’) of the liverwort. This plant has no stem, leaves, flowers, seeds or ‘veins’. Instead of seeds it has spores.

This primitive liverwort should not be confused with the spring wildflower liverwort (Hepatica), which will bloom in about a month.

We found one more thing near this liverwort and moss.

Do you recognize these?

cocoons&moss

 

I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure they are little insect cocoons. They could be insect eggs, but I don’t think so. IN either case, they have been here all winter waiting for warm weather to arrive so they can emerge.

Even though it may still be cool where you live, go out and see what ‘signs of spring’ you can find.

Deb, Harry, bee balmNature enthusiasts Harry LeBlanc and Deb Vail are at home in the forest hiking to reach beautiful vistas and searching for native plants in the southern Appalachians. They are co-founders of Grandparents of the Forest, an intimate business offering simple yet meaningful ways for children and their parents to connect to Nature for well-being and healing. They also make Sacred Forest® Flower Essences from the plants they encounter. They are former organic farmers and parents of 5 grown children.

Organized under Amphibians, Insects, Nicolas, Spring. No comments.