Don’t know what to do in the garden?

First snowdrops of the year.

If you’re new to gardening, or just don’t know where to start when you step out into the garden, here’s a useful resource: it’s a free guide on the website of the Biodynamic Agricultural Movement of France  called “a faire au jardin”, or “to do in the garden”.    It’s in French, but there’s always Google translate for those  getting to grips with a new language.  Directed at gardeners in France, it provides suggestions on what to do in the garden every day of the year.

I still have lots to learn about what biodynamic agriculture is – you can read up on it on the British Biodynamic Association website – but what stands out for me is the fact that it takes into account the waxing and waning of the moon to determine when to work with different plants and carry out different tasks in the garden.     There are days that are considered more beneficial for working with and/or harvesting  plants where the root is important (i.e. carrots, potatoes, turnips, etc.), days that are more beneficial for working with fruit-bearing plants, days for plants where the leaves are important (lettuce, spinach, etc), and days for plants where the flower is important (brocolli, roses, etc.).   There are also days when it isn’t recommended to do any gardening at all (time to nap!).  I reckon if the moon can move tidal waters, it stands to reason it would have an impact on water in plants.   There’s a lot more to biodynamic agriculture than that – essentially it’s about gardening in harmony with nature and includes an organic approach – but the moon aspect I like, because it helps give me a focus on any given day in the garden.

On a warm un-winter-like day last weekend, I followed the guide and scraped the lichen off my apple, cherry, plum and pear trees, and pruned their branches.   It was fantastic to be in the garden, and to know that with the new year, the days are getting longer and we are heading ever so gently towards spring.




Hazelnut foraging


It rained all weekend, and I could feel the ground gulping it down after weeks of dry heat.  No sign of mushrooms yet, but if it’s hazelnuts you like, now is the time to get out there.   They are in abundance this year and have started falling on the ground.   The kids can pick them up while you reach for the higher branches.


Hazelnuts in their shells remind me of Christmas.   We always had a big brightly patterned shallow dish full of them mixed with walnuts and brazil nuts when I was a kid.  But we didn’t live where we could pick them for ourselves.  Now we have hazelnut and walnut trees growing in the garden, and hazelnut trees, one after another, lining the pastures  up in the Jura behind our neighbourhood.   There’s a glut of food up there at the moment, a few odd blackberries still around, rose hips, and bright red hawthorn berries. I get such a thrill foraging for food, and living somewhere where so much plant life described in the books I read and songs I heard growing up are found so near to home.   Like that Christmas carol “The holly and the ivy”.   They are on my doorstep!

If I can get my motivation up, I’ll have a go at making some chocolate hazelnut spread, put it in the traditional oval jar with golden lid, and see if anyone notices!