Organisational lunacy

Not surprisingly for a person who likes to pack things in, the enormity of maintaining a large productive space can be quite overwhelming.

Recently I filled in a survey on executive function – which examines the skills needed to plan, focus, recall instructions and juggle multiple tasks – and it was no great reveal to discover that time management is a weakness.

My reputation for running late was well established before my husband’s disapproval pulled me into line over the years. But my tardiness has nothing to do with self-important carelessness. It’s all about my endless attempts to fit too much into the time available. Especially since having kids. Windows of time are there to be filled by excessively optimistic to-do lists. You’re no doubt seeing a pattern.

And so it was with my gardening visions.

How long could it take to prepare the soil and plant out 50 seedlings, sow a similar number in punnets, turn the compost, feed the fruit trees, prune, weed and build an awesome bean tower out of fallen branches. Surely I could knock this out before school pick-up.

So I quickly found out I couldn’t and needed to develop a system of manageable chunks. Enter lunar gardening.

By employing a lunar gardening system, the decision for when to do things would be mercifully lifted from my shoulders. Now the calendar would tell me which days were best for planting, which for weeding, which for growing sprouts, which for planting root crops like carrots and potatoes, when to fertilise and when to harvest. Brilliant!

The next step was to find out the theory behind it all so I could give a remotely educated explanation of my sophisticated methods without simply coming across as a disorganised gardener misappropriating an ancient farming system as a time management crutch.

So, thanks to information collected from Wikipedia, Gardening by the Moon, Aussie Organic Gardening, Diggers catalogues and my heaving shelf of gardening books, I can tell you that lunar gardening or moon planting has to do with the gravitational pull of our natural satellite. That’s the easy bit.

The idea is that, just as the pull of the full moon influences ocean tides, it also affects smaller bodies of water, including groundwater and even water within plants. Advocates date back thousands of years to the farmers of the Nile and Euphrates river valleys, who planted not only according to moon phases, but also zodiac signs. Lunar gardeners believe plants sown in the few week before a full moon benefit from increased hydration in the soil and grow to be stronger and more productive.

While scientists are on the fence, generations of farmers have demonstrated the proof is in the pudding.

To my mind, prone as it is to overestimating what I can fit into a day, thousands of years of practice is enough reason to give it a whirl. It might even help me slow down. In fact, seeing as I’m still trying to pack an arguably ridiculous amount of planting into my allocated 11 optimum days per month, I reckon it might be necessary to go further still. Enter agricultural astrology.

By combining moon phases with zodiac signs, the calendar will dictate when to plant leafy things, versus root vegetables or fruit plants, helping replace my seed-sowing mania with “lunar-cy” (tee hee hee) of a more productive kind.

Next challenge is to bone up on why the moon passing through Scorpio could affect the success of my brassicas. But if it means maintaining a level-headed planting schedule, I’m up for it.

“Everything that slows us down & forces patience,

Everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help.

Gardening is an instrument of grace.”

-Mary Sarton

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