Archive for the ‘Lunar Musings’ Category

Bye Bye June!

Well, I don’t know about you, but I found June to be most satisfactory over all. It was a weird month as I caught up to many projects, some of which are almost completely finished. Very careful to not start lots of new ones like I usually do, I’ll be free in July to focus on getting everything off my old ‘to-do’ lists and take a trip up to see our daughter and her wife in San Francisco for a weekend.

ye olde oregano patch

Most of my gardening efforts have been pulling weeds and clearing out dead things to make room for the tomatoes that are slowly growing. Slowly since we have had a lot of the usual June ocean cloud cover which cuts our daily Sun down to about 4 hours a day. Today, I will go out to collect herbs for drying. The New Moon makes it a perfect couple days to do that. It’s good for the plant’s regrowth to cut extra herbs on the New Moon.

Spread the herbs out so they get lots of air.

I’ve probably said all of this before, but today it makes sense to repeat it to myself…There are a couple rules I try to follow when gathering herbs:

1) Don’t take more than 30% of a healthy plant. Being a little conservative yet more consistent with collection will keep a plant lush and thriving, instead of shocked and stunted, trying to recover. There are exceptions to this rule, like all rules. If a plant needs an aggressive chop, then let it have it – but always on a waning or new Moon.

2) Gather your herbs no later than mid-morning. The Sun has had time to dry the dew off and get the plant’s Mojo working but not enough time to start breaking down the volatile oils and juicy alkaloid stuff that we want at optimum levels in our collected parts.

What parts you collect, leaves-roots-stems-flowers, depends on your herb and your needs, so keep that in mind when planning ahead. Give them a good rinse and they’re ready to dry. Most of mine get dried on plain unbleached craft paper that comes in a big roll. Sometimes, depending on the herb, I hang big clusters upside down by the stems. Keep them in a cool, dry, out of the dust area and maybe turn them over every few days if their leaves are big. After a couple weeks, they are ready for storage. Mine get stored in jars that I collect along the way and I make sure to label them since a lot of herbs look the same after they’re dried.

I really love all my mismatched recycled jars.

3) If you’re after an herb for its roots, you may not want to touch it for another Moon, letting it mature in the summer Sun. For seeds, definitely do not cut off the flowers now or you will not have any seeds later! That sounds only sensible, but I have done it before without thinking. Yes, I can be a little impetuous.

the seed head of the Fennel herb

Remember, if you’re packing up seeds to share or store, put their name and date collected on the packaging so you won’t have to question yourself later.

Packing up seeds to share.

If you’re not after an herb, it’s also a good day to collect blooming flowers for vases. The plant will get a good trim for regrowth as the weather heats up and you’ll have something pretty to look at. I don’t know if I’ll have time for cutting flowers today, we’ll have to see. My camera froze yesterday, so until I get it fixed there won’t be any new pictures and getting that taken care of will be my priority. Enjoy your day and I’ll see you next month.

"Girl with a Basket in a Garden" by Knight Daniel Ridgway


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The Muse was whispering in my ear before I was awake, before the Sun came up. She said, “The Moon is waxing in Virgo and it’s June so get your big ass out of bed and go plant something!” It just so happens I had some seedlings just waiting for the perfect moment.

Seedlings started during Spring Break

So, before and after work, I’ll be out in the garden celebrating the best Moon for gardening, the warmth of summer, and the fact that I actually have gardening time since I’m not currently a student. It doesn’t get any better than right now! There will plenty to do since I have to clear space for the seedlings, which means pulling tons of grass and weeds and transplanting things that are in the way but I still want. When I get it done, I’ll share photos….don’t want to spend a single minute indoors unless I have to and the ‘have to’ moments are reserved for work and sleep, mostly in that order. So, thanks to the Muse for the wake up call and to Mother Nature for the warm soil. Until we meet again….

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The title of today’s post makes me very very happy. I’m going to say it again: Spring Break. Ahhhhh. One whole week without classes coming right up! It took a lot to get here and it’s a Full Moon, so today I’m going to rest and roll around in thoughts of what I’ve managed to accomplish over the last little while and pat myself on the back. We should all do that more often you know? Go ahead, pat yourself on the back right now. You are awesome and you know it! If someone else pats you on the back, it’s a great feeling, but why the hell should we wait for that?!

Spring Peas - April 2011

There will be no starting of anything new either. The week ahead will be spent finishing the things I normally don’t have time for. Work is caught up, but I will have the opportunity to do those projects that seem to get put at the bottom of my in-box over and over, like balancing the bank statements and taking inventory of my supplies, cleaning up computer files and reorganizing property photos…sooooo much excitement! There are also some weird and time-consuming school projects and one humongous botany paper to write. Yes, it would be more fun to flake more over the coming week, maybe even leave town a couple days, but my plan is to have everything done that I can do so the rest of the semester goes easy and when it’s over I have a clean Summer Slate to work with. Yes, I am becoming more pragmatic with age. Sigh.

Glamour and Drama in the Swiss Chard patch - April 2011

It will not be all work though…Tom and I have already started to enjoy the extra time together starting with a fabulous lunch out on Friday. I even pulled out a pair of four inch Louboutins to wear. We always enjoy our lunch dates, but the extra glamour went a long way towards starting the break on a positive, mildly self-indulgent foot. 🙂

Fresh Spring Strawberries - almost! April 2011

There has even been some gardening happening the last couple of days. Yay! My big red apple cookie jar is completely empty of seeds right now, which I believe has never happened. It got a good bath inside and out and all of the seeds except for a few odd ones have been planted. (By the time they sprout and get ready for permanent Earth homes, I will done with the semester) The last few remaining seeds will go in the dirt today to honor the Moon and I will not be buying any more for the rest of the year. The time has come to use what I have and clean out the potting shed of stuff I don’t use – I can hardly get in the door! It will be fun to see what germinates because most of these seeds are a bit aged. Some of them are even leftovers of envelopes that have not produced a single viable seed yet, Cantaloupes and Cucumbers among them.

Seed Inventory Day - January 2011

It always amuses me when that happens. Was there just a dysfunctional mother plant that put those seeds out? Most of the time it’s because they have been on the shelf too long and I always forget to check the date on the envelope. Perhaps that will be my nugget of advice for the day; always check for a ‘sell by’ or ‘use by’ date on your seed packages. They should be fresh and no more than a year old when you plant them. Yes, some seeds stay viable for much longer, but why take chances when they aren’t free? Also, I never buy seeds from outlet stores like “Big Lots” or odd stores like a drugstore where you normally wouldn’t buy seeds. If they are displayed in the direct Sun or outside, I don’t buy them either. In fact, I have discovered that seeds ordered online seem to be the most reliable in terms of germination. As far as storage goes, I’ve learned to keep mine in zip-lock baggies in my cookie jar or air tight glass jars, which I collect in every shape, color and size imaginable. They stay up on a shelf in my dark potting shed. It floods in the winter time, but my seeds stay dry and at a consistent temperature. Of course, the best place for a seed is in the Earth!

Boing! Grape vine tendrils....

So now I’m off to have breakfast with Tom and plan the rest of my day. It’s really a wonderful feeling to be able to take my time doing whatever it is I’m doing without feeling pressured to hurry up and finish so I can go do something else that needs doing. Ahhhhh. I can stop running now and enjoy the journey a little more, perhaps contemplate ‘things’ and ‘stuff.’ Contemplation has become a fancy luxury these days. Or maybe I’ll just go outside and sniff some roses – just for hell of it….

The bedroom window roses are in full bloom again. - April 2011

Happy Spring Sunday! and once again because I love saying it – Spring Break!

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“Tell me what you feel in your room when the full moon is shining in upon you and your lamp is dying out, and I will tell you how old you are, and I shall know if you are happy”

~ Henri Frederic Amiel

There are moments, increasingly frequent moments, when I’m absolutely positive that the modern world has passed me by. Evidently, this is a common problem among “mature” folk, but I wasn’t quite prepared for it to happen to me this early. Yes, I made fun of my parents when they didn’t understand cordless telephones and insisted on standing next to the cradle while they were on the phone, not wanting to walk too far away from the phone’s ‘mother ship’. Now, I struggle to figure out all the features on my ‘smart phone’ and half the time I forget to turn the ringer on and I miss phone calls. Mostly from my kids – sorry kids, you know I love you, I’m just a complete dork. Also, I’m not quite sure what a widget thingy is or why there should be one on my blog. Most of my blog entries are still not categorized because I forget that part and only the other day did I figure out I was supposed to be tagging the posts so random people could find my silly thoughts on the inter-webs. Point me to the dirt and I know what I’m doing, plop an electronic gadget in front of me and my breathing becomes shallow and my heart rate goes up. Give me one more “username and password” to think up for a new website and I won’t need to do cardio anymore. (not that I’m all that fond of cardio in the first place)

Grape Vines

It’s enough to make a girl from the country, who moved to the city, go crazy and want to move back to the country. Until, of course, I want to order a pizza or hop into “Happy Nails” for a manicure without an appointment or drive up to Los Angeles with Tom for a romantic weekend getaway. What about the late night chocolate craving that only gets satisfied if the liquor store down the street is open? When I lived in the country, there was a drive through liquor store down the highway, twenty minutes down the highway to be exact. Paying my bills online takes me two minutes and I don’t have to file anything. My algebra homework is all done online these days and I can watch a little video on the website if I need help: instant and free math tutor with a rewind and mute function – awesome!

Because of modern technology, I can take 161 photos of a flower in my garden every single day and by the evening they are on my PC ready for use, the camera is recharging its batteries for tomorrow, and it was all free of charge. Remember the days when you took your film down to some ‘one hour photo’ place and waited? It was expensive and you looked at half the photos when you got them home and went “eww” – now I can hit delete if I don’t like a pic and it’s over!

the center of a morning star

There is nothing like a modern nature documentary in HD or a cooking show to teach you how to do something our mothers had to figure out on their own or from a dusty old black and white cookbook or worse, index card recipes passed around at church picnics, scribbled with Gran’s terrible chicken-scratch handwriting and always calling for “oleo” – whatever the hell kind of concoction that was.

Passion Fruit flower with ant

Now we have stem cell miracles, almost a cure for cancer, people who are actually surviving HIV, and the successful creation of synthetic life. You can learn anything you want to from television or internet. ANYTHING! It’s amazing – especially if you can remember back to times when you had to plan ahead to go down to the grocery store to rent a VCR and some videos so you could watch a movie at home over the weekend. My first VCR/video rental was the movie “About Last Night” with Demi Moore and Rob Lowe. My parents were out of town that weekend and I had to get everything turned back in before they discovered I had rented a “Rated R” movie and it took me forever to hook the thing up and I almost broke our TV in the process. Now, we have Netflix. Yay for Netflix!

Agapanthus by the garden gate

The downside of all this modern age business is that you are constantly bombarded with all of the troubles and silliness of the world – the ENTIRE WORLD!!! Yes, we all care about the news. But, if looking at images of the BP oil spill (don’t you love the diminutive language they’re using?) makes you cry or get angry, you should stop doing it all day every day. Every time a senator whips it out and gets caught at an unsavory moment, the world thinks I need to know about it. One of Kardishians or Hiltons or Lohans farts sideways in China and I need to get an email about it which ends up on my cell phone and therefore in my pocket while I’m trying to relax and enjoy a little peace and quiet in the garden. In bed with a good book and suddenly your cell phone vibrates to tell you about an email from Victoria’s Secret selling you a newfangled push-up bra when it’s the absolute LAST thing you need and before you know it you’ve lost your center. The flotsam and jetsam factory is out there trying to ravenously suck up your center and destroy it, throwing you off balance and out into the maelstrom. It wants YOU!

Ivy with blue blue sky

Do you remember your center? Have you been there lately? That place or feeling deep inside that is you and only you. Undisturbed, dark, quiet, steady and sure of itself. There in that quiet place lives the version of you that is hidden away when the world goes crazy and takes you with it. That’s where my favorite “me” lives and the “me” I don’t feel often enough. You know when you’re off center because you’re kinda grumpy, have a “tension headache” and your shoulders are up under your earlobes. Traffic pisses you off, noises are all too loud, you suspect yourself of being a misanthrope and the doorbell makes you cringe. If you’re an introvert like I am, all of above is amplified. So, what takes you back to center?

Nasturium with rain

For me; yoga and pajamas, potatoes and chocolate, red wine and fluffy pillows, dark curtains and blankets, lots of milk in my coffee and rubbing Peanut’s belly. Tom. The garden. Silence. Following the Moon across the sky every day. When the Moon is almost full, I start leaving my bedroom curtains open at night so the Moonlight floods my room. I lay in bed, maybe listen to my Ipod (another favorite gadget that at least I have figured out) and I clear my head, searching for center. There, in the “witching hour”, there are no voices but mine, nothing to be done because nothing can be done until tomorrow. Center rises and expands and inhales: she is free and wise, strong and beautiful. She is full of light, waxing and waning with the steady rhythm of nature, yet always the same and always there, even in darkness.

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Royal Burgundy Bush Beans is wine box

The Moon moved into Virgo early this morning, which means I absolutely must garden this evening after work! My almanac, “Guided By The Moon” by Johanna Paungger and Thomas Poppe, says Virgo days “are the best days for almost every type of work in garden, field, and forest that is connected with setting, transplants and new planting.” (the only exception is lettuce, which will run to leaf too quickly) The seeds I planted on the last full moon are ready for permanent homes and some plants are not doing well in their spots, so transplanting and new planting is exactly what I’ll be doing. I don’t have a lot, but having Moon where it is was the perfect excuse to plan my evening for that. And, lo and behold, Sun is actually shining today. We have had so much coastal cloud cover this year that I’m planning a separate post just to list the plants that I lost due to lack of Sun, in San Diego!

I hope she doesn't eat much!

Yesterday, I harvested my Royal Burgundy Bush Beans. We only got a small bushel but it was enough for Tom and I to have a good side dish at dinner. They are beautiful and delicious and a little Gothic looking. I will be growing them again next year for sure. Not the same feelings for the Yellow Pencil Pod beans I grew at the same time. They didn’t do as well and the color was kind of anemic and not terribly enticing, except to our snails – ok by me because they stayed away from the purples.

Royal Burgundy Bush Beans

The camera, trooper that it is, didn’t really capture the luxuriously deep purple of these beans. When you break them open, they’re bright green inside and they cook to a regular ‘green bean’ color. We roasted them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

Wicked looking beans ready for roasting. Bwahahaha!

Next year I will plant more of these and I know now they grow best in the meditation circle. Most things do, to the point of leaving me no room to sit on my bench, which is presently covered with grape vines. Oh well, I don’t have time to meditate much these days anyway!

Hydrangea with droplets

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Scabiosa columbaria 6-5-10

Tom and I just got back from a weekend in Newport Beach. We went up for business and stayed for pleasure. What a wonderful couple of days it was too. All worries were left behind and we did our favorite things together…romantic walks, romantic lunches, romantic dinners….well you know. When I got back I spent two hours catching up with watering. Everything needed it and by the time I do the orchids and house plants and everything outside, I’m pooped. Tonight I’ll water the grass and be done with water till Tuesday. It’s hard for me to keep on the schedule that the “City of San Diego” wants me to keep with watering. But I do my best.

Anise - Pimpinella anisum

It was strange to come home after only a couple days gone and find the garden the same but very very different. All the plants are still there but the tomatoes went berserk and suddenly need help getting back up in their cages. The grapes have burst forth once again and my previous efforts to vine them up seem to have been futile.

Grapes June 2010

The potatoes are as tall as I am and I haven’t built the dirt up around them yet, I’m missing some tomato cages, the leeks need more soil…As I went around the yard, almost every plant told me it needed some attention and Cicero (my beta fish) needs a good bath since it’s the New Moon and there’s a fungus growing on his Greek temple columns. The list is growing faster than I can think the thought.

Baby Apples June 5 2010

I’ve been focusing on business lately but now my garden needs some love!

Squash Blossoms 2010

But none of it matters today! Sundays and New Moons don’t always fall together, but today they did and I’m taking advantage. No more lists or chores until tomorrow morning. For now, I’m off to watch “dude tv” with my husband and son and this evening I’m watching the first episode of the new season of True Blood: the only TV show I really really like any more and the one thing I’m doing tonight no matter what! I’ve been waiting forever for it to come back and I’m not missing a moment of it!

Swiss Chard, Hollyhocks, Nasturtiums, Tomatoes, Feverfew

So right at this moment, I’m about as happy as one can get. The birds are chirping, the sun is shining at last, I just spent a romantic weekend away with my man, the flowers are blooming and my garden looks better than ever, there are sparkly bubbles in my favorite Champagne flute, True Blood is on tonight, I’m feeling good and I’m in a good mood, the Moon is New…none of this is going to last, so I’m off to wallow in it. Happy Sunday everyone!

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I didn’t want to tell the tree or weed what it was. I wanted it to tell me something and through me express its meaning in nature. ~ Wynn Bullock

Wynn Bullock was a photographer from the early to mid 1900’s. Here’s a link to some of his photographs.

Peanut greets the morning sun

Yesterday, for the first time in a long time, I went outside with my coffee and didn’t do anything else first. There was no coastal fog or clammy cloud cover, no phones ringing or office work calling me, no homework or housework that was urgent or tugging at my thoughts. There wasn’t even a neighborhood dude running a power tool, weed eater or lawn mower. Stepping out onto the cool grass in my bare feet into a peaceful enchantment accompanied by nothing but birds, bees and Peanut: pure unadulterated bliss. These are the mornings I live for and I haven’t had one in a looooong time…thank you Mother Universe.

Cilantro/Coriander blooming with Nasturtiums

Since the sun has finally been shining a little lately and it’s warming up at last, everything is growing in cosmic bursts. I look out the window one day and I have grape vines. Looking out the next day reveals that the grape vines are snaking out all over the back lawn desperately needing to be tied up. So, now that the Moon is waning and the planting is done, it’s time to do lots and lots of clean up work, starting with pulling out weeds.

Borage flowers decorate the grass

Normally, I’m not a weed puller. If it’s green or makes flowers, it’s a legitimate plant and can stay. Morning Glories are considered a weed in many places but I actually spend money on seeds so I can have them growing on my fence. A weed is a weed when I say it’s a weed! Dandelions make good tea. Weeds are good for decoy plants – if aphids are eating a ‘weed’ next to the roses, they’re leaving the roses alone and I’m leaving the weed alone. Some weeds get to grow just so I can have mulch.

things are getting crowded!

However, when anything growing begins to hamper the well-being of another plant, that’s when it turns into a true weed. Right now, I have squash and tomatoes that need Sun and space and WATER! – anything in the way of that is getting pulled or moved. Mostly, I have wayward grass instead of true weeds. It goes in the compost pile. The next thing to get pulled is the Evening Primrose.

Evening Primrose tumbling over the garden wall

It’s beautiful and I love it, but it grows very wild and will take over the garden completely if left to its own devices. At a certain point it goes from being “enthusiastic” to being “pernicious”. It needs to be picked as it spreads and I either put it into vases or the mulch pile.

Passionflower is finally blooming!

So, while this rare and beautiful peace in my life lasts, I will be outside pruning and trimming and pulling, caging tomatoes and make trellises, moving things around to get more sun – or less sun – and breathing slowly so this RESPITE can work its magic.

Agapanthus getting ready to open

Have a safe and happy, but mostly peaceful, Memorial Day!

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