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April 19, 2020

Hi All,


I hope you, family and friends are all okay in this difficult time. The situation is scary - we are totally self-isolating and lucky to live on the coast in West Wales. I know we are fortunate - many I know are in flats in London etc.




Talking to a business supplier yesterday, it seems many Councils are no longer collecting green waste, and all the tips are closed. She was asking about composting as her's was not breaking down that well.


The secret is to have 70% brown waste to 30% green. Brown waste is anything like hedge clippings, cardboard, newspaper, straw and manure. Green is fresh leaves, kitchen waste (no meat or bones) and grass cuttings. Try not to put too much grass cuttings. Citrus fruits are best soaked in a bucket of water for 2 weeks before adding.


Build the heap with alternating layers of brown and green - manure does help, but obviously difficult to get at the moment. I am lucky to have a neighbour with 2 goats, so he drops bags of straw and manure off from time to time!


Bones and meat cannot go on a normal compost heap. You can get a Hot composter for the garden or a bokashi bin for the kitchen. They will break down meat, fish, bones and so on.


As I follow Biodynamic methods, at the end we add 5 preps and then spray the heap with valerian which has been stirred in water for 20 minutes. Valerian heats the atmosphere over the heap - if you have ever drunk it diluted it is warming in the mouth. Some fruit farmers use it to spray fruit tree blossom if a frost threatens for the same reason.


If you want to learn more about Biodynamics there is an Introduction course- it does cost but interesting if you wanted to learn more about Biodynamics..


But equally just spending time in your garden, tending the soil and plants works. That is more or less what Biodynamic gardening is about- without using the Preps and following the Biodynamic calendar dates for planting.


I dug a small pond last autumn and I just had my first delivery of water plants from a small nursery- Water Garden Plants. I've never had a pond before so this is a new project. Trying to work out a way to avoid plastic baskets in the pond - currently sewing hessian sheets into a square pot to see if that works. The aim of the pond is to attract frogs and toads to help with the slug and snail issues we have. And also damsel and dragonflies.


So far spinach, radishes, broad beans and peas are coming on in the beds.




I read in the paper that Olive trees in Italy are being killed by a new disease Xylella fastidiosa. I buy Demeter biodynamic Olive oil from a small company in London run by an Italian couple -- called Olivocracy. The brand name for Biodynamic products is Demeter -- Demeter is the Greek goddess of the harvest, grain, and fertility. She is one of the Twelve Olympian gods that live on Mount Olympus. Because she was the goddess of the harvest, she was very important to the farmers and peasant people of Greece.


I am waiting to hear from them as to if Organic groves are being affected as well. Many of these issues are caused by soil neglect, so will see. It was certainly a major issue with Vineyards after WW1 when nitrogen fertilisers were widely adopted by vineyards in Europe.




I expect things will be different after this period in the history of the world. I am just reading Donut economics by Kate Raworth -- a new look at economics for the C21st. It was written a couple of years ago- missed it at the time.


Several people I have spoken to are considering changes in work lifestyle- either enjoying working from home , questioning the commute or looking at doing something different.


It could be that we will emerge out of this with Governments (and large public companies) realising that growth (GDP) is not the answer. Just run your business to be able to make a profit and pay your staff. I have never understood the need for huge corporate expansion. In the past people invested in companies to get a dividend- capital growth was a bonus.


The fact that every organic producer I am aware of is flat out will hopefully mean that post this we will see a shift to using local ( and hopefully organic) suppliers.


Finally for anyone who might find this useful, my daughter is a mindfulness teacher and works for the The Mindfulness Project. They are doing a free meditation sessions online using Zoom every day at 18.00 -meditation.


Look after yourselves.


Best wishes,