2016 Articles

Stronger La Nina Effect than Predicted

by Rosemary Tayler, 2016 Celestial Planting Calendar

The prolonged and extreme cold spell we are currently experiencing across North America and Europe in December 2017 and January 2018 is due to the cooler than normal sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. This cooling effect started more than a year ago and seems to have continued.

Back in June 2016, Earth Haven Learning Centre interviewed Dave Philips, Senior Climatologist for Environment and Climate Change Canada, and at that time, based on several international oceanic temperature monitors,  Philips predicted a weak La Niña effect for the 2016-2017 winter. And that's how it turned out. We experienced a slightly colder winter and a prolonged and very wet spring.

La Niña, which is Spanish for “the girl child” is characterized by the cooling of the equatorial waters in the central Pacific Ocean near the International Dateline. As this water mass cools down to at least 0.5 º Celsius (0.9 º F) below normal, it gradually influences the atmosphere overhead and the resulting movement of weather systems around the world.

Its counterpart, El Niño, which is Spanish for “the boy child,” has generally the opposite effect. A warm pool of water over the Western Pacific Ocean moves eastward to the South American coast. The exceptionally mild winter across Canada in 2015-2016 was consistent with a strong El Nino effect.

Generally La Niña encourages more tropical storms in the North Atlantic. In hindsight, the numerous and extreme hurricanes in the Caribbean from August to October 2017 corroborated La Niña's continued influence.   

While some meteorologists predicted another weaker La Niño effect for our current winter, others predicted a stronger one.  And here we are in early January experiencing much colder than normal temperatures for several weeks. We can draw our own conclusions!

Based on these colder than normal winter temperatures and our understanding of the La Niña effect, we are once again likely to experience a colder than normal spring, possibly even more so than last spring. An increased accumulation of snow will delay farmers getting onto their fields, and the surface melting of this snow into creeks, rivers and watersheds might create increased spring flooding. The extreme flooding last spring across the Great Lakes Basin was due to the larger than normal snowfall accumulation that previous winter.

One consolation for all this cold weather is that the Great Lakes have just about completed freezing up and the “lake effect” snow resulting from unfrozen waters is minimized.  In addition, all this extreme cold weather helps control the exuberant growth of the tick population.

The old saying, “time will tell” is still relevant. Meanwhile, stay warm, keep an eye on the animals and make sure the pipes don't freeze.

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Wisdom from the Elders

Moon Wisdom from the Elders: Connecting Life with the Cosmos

Compiled by Rosemary Tayler and Kathryn Aunger, 2015 & 2016 Celestial Planting Calendars

Calling upon the wisdom of our elders, our ancestors and ancient cultures, even things we heard our grandparents say, brings a level of learning that each of us as individuals can draw upon.  The following is an offering of some of the wisdom teachings based on lunar rhythms. 

Lunar Wisdoms

Sowing, seeding or transplanting (the action of putting the plant in the ground) is best done when the Moon is descending.   Sap movement is typically slower during the descending Moon, allowing for seeds and roots to adjust to this change.  This is also a good time for trimming, hedges, pruning trees, felling timber, and applying compost.

When the Moon is ascending the sap is rising and the plant fills with vitality.  This is a good time for grafting and harvesting plants for food or medicine.  Plants harvested with the influences of an ascending moon will remain fresher longer when stored.

When the Moon is in a water sign, add compost to pasture/gardens.

If you want to weaken a plant (usually a weed) then prune it during a waxing Moon so the sap does not go into the roots.

Start weaning calves shortly before the Full Moon, and let them drink milk for the last time at the Full Moon itself.

Pest control is best done at the time of a Full Moon during the growing season: best when Sun is in Aries) for larvae, Sun is in Taurus for hard-shell insects, Sun is in Gemini for flies and Sun is in Cancer for slugs and snails.

Whenever possible, fertilizer or manure should be spread when the Moon is waning.  With cereals, vegetables and fruit, ideally on fruit days (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius), otherwise during Virgo or on another earth day (Taurus, Capricorn).

Plant root crops and trees needing a good root system during the 3rd quarter, waning Moon.
Leaf vegetables (lettuce, spinach, cabbage, etc.) should be planted when the Moon is waning, preferably during Cancer days.

Weed, cultivate and turn compost during the 4th quarter to the New Moon.

Ascending periods are considered favourable for grafting, but not for pruning when open wounds can bleed. 

Maria Thun advocates that descending periods are favourable for planting seeds and transplanting seedlings.

Avoid planting two hours either side of the lunar node or 12 hours either side of an eclipse or planetary node.

If a lunar perigee is boosted by a Full Moon around the same time, the combined forces tend to be excessive, and widespread extreme weather can take place.  If conditions are already wet, expect a higher incidence of rot or fungal attacks on plants.

Root, Leaf, Flower, Seed Wisdoms

Root days are the best to plant root crops when the Moon passes in front of the earth signs of Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn.

Plant, cultivate and harvest garlic on root days for the best yields and storage quality.

Flower days for cauliflower, broccoli, and flowers passing the air signs of Gemini, Libra and Aquarius.
Flowering shrubs, rose bushes, etc. are best pruned in the appropriate season when the Moon is in an air sign (flower day).

Fruit/seed days are best for tomatoes, onions, garlic, and peppers when the Moon is in the fire signs of Aries, Leo, Sagittarius.

Fruit trees, berries and shrubs are best pruned when the Moon is in a fire sign (fruit day).

Maria Thun suggests that cauliflower and kohlrabi develop best when sown on leaf days.  Broccoli, on the other hand, shows that flower days produce large, firm heads, whereas those sown on leaf days are mostly leaves, and on fruit days there are lots of little buds.  Potatoes, leeks and onions develop best when planted on root days, when the Earth or below-ground influences are strongest. These findings were made at her farm in Germany.

Onions, when sown and harvested on root days, will keep for long time.  Flower day onions will go bad in early winter.  Fruit day onions will begin to shoot mid-winter.

Weather Wisdoms

When swallows fly low to the ground, it is an indication of rain. 

Rain before 7, gone by 11.

Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning. Red sky at night, sailors delight.

When you see the underside of leaves, it is going to rain.

The wave-like cloud formations that some people call a chicken rib sky or a herring bone sky indicate rain within 24 hours.

When dogs roll over on their backs, it fortells rain.

No dew on the grass in the early morning means rain that day.

Harvesting Wisdoms

From 3 am to approximately 3 pm, it is as if the Earth is in a state of exhaling.  Mists and scents rise.  From 3 pm to approximately. 3 am, the Earth is in a reversed state of inhalation.  Dew falls and scents become heavy.  To work in harmony with this rhythm, it is recommended to harvest herbs early in the morning, while plant vitality is still contained within, and to transplant in the evening when the energy of the plant moves back into the roots.

Harvesting is best done during an ascending moon period.

It is best to harvest roots on root days, fruit on fruit days, especially during the two-week time period when the Moon is running high (ascending).  For leaf crops, it is best to harvest either on a root or fruit day.  Cabbages are best harvested on a flower day.

Harvesting cabbage, carrots, beets, kale or anything succulent and leafy in large quantities for storage, sale or transport should not be done on a leaf day, as there will be a tendency for the development of rot and fungi due to the predominant water influence of a leaf day.

Roots and potatoes are best harvested with a descending moon in an earth sign (root day).
Avoid harvesting during a Full Moon, a lunar perigee and during a water constellation (leaf day) since these are times when there will be more water in the Earth, thus the crops will hold too much water creating molds, fungus and unsatisfactory storage.

Fruits, green vegetables, hay and silage will store better and maintain quality if harvested during an air sign (flower day).

Grains and seeds for saving are best harvested during a fire sign (fruit day).

The most favourable time for harvesting, preserving, and storing is when the Moon is ascending (Sagittarius to Gemini).  Harvesting and storing are less dependent on the phase of the Moon than on the constellation through which the Moon is currently passing.

The most suitable days for harvesting and storing cereals, vegetables, and potatoes are when the Moon is in Aries.

Planting, Cultivating & Harvesting Wisdoms

When the Moon is waning, the sap flows to the roots of the plants, the soil is receptive and breathing in.  When the Moon is waxing, the sap climbs up into the plant growth above the ground and breathing out dominates. 

Above-ground crops do best when planted in the first and second quarters of the Moon (above = light of the Moon), while below ground crops do best when planted in the third and fourth quarters of the Moon (below = dark of the Moon).

To encourage growth of grasses (lawns), cut in a fruitful sign during a growing moon phase (first and second quarter).  To discourage growth of grasses (lawns), cut in a barren sign during a waning or decreasing Moon phase (third and fourth quarter).

Hoeing, weeding and tilling is best done during the third and fourth quarter of the Moon in the constellations of Leo, Gemini, Virgo, Aquarius or Aries.  Hoeing and weeding is best done when the Moon is in Leo because there will be a greater loss of moisture and a greater dying off of the weeds.
Aries and Sagittarius days are especially suitable for cultivating cereals, but so also are Leo days.  However, in very dry fields there is a danger when the Moon is in Leo of the soil becoming parched. The first day of Aries is the best time for storing cereals.

Mow or cut field thistle when the Moon is in Aquarius or Sagittarius releasing a strong flow of sap.  Repeat cutting or mowing whenever the Moon is ascending to keep the roots undernourished.  The plants will die off.

Trees, Shrubs and Orchard Wisdoms

Prune for propogation in the third and fourth quarter of the Moon phase in one of the fruitful signs (Leo, Sagittarius, Aries).

Prune to discourage growth in the first and second quarter of the Moon in one of the less potent barren signs namely Aries or Sagittarius.

The right moment for grafting on to fruit trees is when the Moon is waxing, preferably close to Full Moon and on a fruit day.

Winter months are the best time to cut timber as the sap has descended and there will be less warping.

Cut wood for timber when the Moon is waxing in Pisces so that the boards will not be ridden with worm holes.

Cut firewood in October during the first quarter of the waxing Moon from trees that you want them to grow back.

Cut wood for furniture and carving in November before the New Moon so that the wood does not develop cracks and open up.

Cut wood in December in the first eight days after the New Moon so that timber remains firm and tight-fitting.

Cut wood on March 1 after sunset so that the wood does not burn.  Apparently this is the only day each year that this happens.

Cut wood in the last two days of March, with the waning Moon in Pisces, so that wood does not rot.
The best bridge timber is obtained when the New Moon coincides with Cancer. 

Timber for bridges, boats and rafts should be cut when the Moon is on a wane in a water sign, particularly in Pisces or Cancer.  This wood will not rot and will be safe under foot.

Wooden shingles and shakes will lie flatter if cut during the dark phase of the Moon.

Fence posts should be set during the dark phase of the Moon to resist rotting. Fence posts should always be set as the tree grew. To set the root end upward makes for a short-lived fence.

Personal Care Wisdoms

For cutting and filing of toenails, fingernails and hoofs (human or animal), the most suitable times are Moon in Capricorn or any Friday after sunset.

To encourage hair growth, cut in a growing Moon (first or second quarter) when the Moon is in the fruitful, fertile signs of Cancer, Scorpio or Pisces. To retard hair growth, cut during the waning of the Moon (third or fourth quarter) in Leo, Gemini and Virgo.

Dye hair during a waxing Moon near to Full as the hair shaft will absorb more colour. 

Have eye examinations during the New Moon or as early as possible when the growing Moon phase is in Libra, Aquarius, Aries or Capricorn.

Dental work that includes fillings, extractions, bridges or impressions are best done during the third and fourth quarters of the Moon in the fixed signs of Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius or Taurus.  Dental surgery with anethesia is best done in the fourth quarter.

Around the Home Wisdoms

Bake on a growing Moon phase (first and second quarter), in a fruitful sign, especially if the baked goods need to rise.

Pickling, canning and freezing is best done during a waning Moon phase (third and fourth quarter) in a fruitful sign. Taurus, Scorpio and Aquarius are best for firm, crisp results.  Water signs will give less desirable results.

To dry food, begin as early as possible in the waning Moon phase, with barren fire signs of Leo, Aries or Sagittarius.  The air signs of Gemini, Aquarius and Libra are a good second choice.
Mold on windows and walls can be cleaned easily with vinegar and water and a scrubbing brush whenever the Moon is waning.

Wash wooden floors when the Moon is waning.  Dust, sweep and mop when the Moon is waxing in Gemini, Libra or Aquarius.

If you mop when the Moon is in a water sign of Cancer, Scorpio or Pisces, moisture will get into the cracks and cause mold, warping and rot.

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The Nature of Influential Moon Forces

The following is an excerpt from John Bach’s translation of Rudolf Steiner’s lecture six of the Agriculture Course.

“In deed and in truth, with the forces that come from the Moon on days of the Full Moon, something colossal is taking place on the Earth. These forces spring up and shoot into all the growth of plants, but they are unable to do so unless rainy days have gone before. We shall therefore have to consider the question: Is it not of some significance, whether we sow the seed in a certain relation to the rainfall and the subsequent light of the Full Moon, or whether we sow it thoughtlessly at any time.”

“The Moon must also be considered in its role as reflector of the all planetary forces that it receives. Steiner states: “With the Moon’s rays the whole reflected Cosmos comes on to the Earth. All influences that pour on to the Moon are rayed back again. Thus the whole starry Heavens – though we may not be able to prove it by the customary physical methods of today – are in a sense rayed back to the Earth by the Moon.” 

It is to this reflective nature of the Moon that we must pay close attention if we are to promote the best conditions for growing strong, healthy and nutritious plants. What is it, in a cosmic sense, that we see when the Moon reflects the light of the Sun, or the forces of the planets onto the earth? We see a geocentric opposition between the Moon and one of these planetary bodies. A Full Moon is, after all, an opposition between the Sun and the Moon, with the Earth in the middle. Conversely, a New Moon is, geocentrically speaking, a conjunction with the Moon and the Sun, where the forces of the Sun, united with the Moon, are cast off into space. We have seen that the forces of the Full Moon are greatly beneficial for the growth of plants, and conversely, the forces of the New Moon, which are reflected away from the Earth, are not of benefit for the growth of plants. 

Steiner states that the beneficial growth forces are “only there for a given district of the Earth when it is Full Moon. When it is a New Moon, the country does not enjoy the benefit of the Moon-influences.” Rudolf Steiner also indicated that research into the forces of the New and Full Moon should be carried out. He entrusted this task to Lily Kolisko, whose large body of research in this regard showed conclusively this relationship to the forces of growth inherent in the Full Moon. Trial after trial demonstrated much better growth and plant development in phases of the waxing Moon than in those of the waning Moon.

As written by Rosemary Tayler, Celestial Planting Calendar 2016

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Tips on Building a Compost Pile

1. Layers of brown and green plant matter - This includes autumn leaves, grass clippings, wood chips and saw dust. Wood ash can be added in small amounts but avoid ash from burned plastic. It is wise to avoid diseased material as the seeds might survive the high heat of the compost process.

2. Layers of kitchen vegetable scraps - This includes carrot tops, potato peelings, apple cores and stems. 

3. Layers of soil as inoculant - Soil contains all the bacteria and fungi needed to create compost.  Avoid human and pet feces because disease organisms might survive even the high heat of the decomposition process. 

4. Place your compost pile in the shade, near trees - The tree roots love the nourishment from the compost; they may impose into the pile but they are easily trimmed back each year. The heat required for decomposition is from the bacteria in the pile, not the sun. The shade keeps the pile from drying out.

5. Ensure adequate but not too much water -Do not let the pile dry out and do not let the pile get soaking wet. Too much water results in not enough air, creating a soggy mess. Too little water slows down the degradation.

6. Add egg shells, even clam or lobster shells -Shells are excellent sources of calcium. If the shells are crushed before being added to the pile, they decompose quickly. Otherwise they can easily be crushed and added into the garden beds with the completed compost.

7. No meat or dairy products - Avoid meat and dairy products as these attract rodents.

8. Twigs help with air flow - Air is a crucial factor inside a compost pile. Oxygen feeds friendly oxygen-loving (aerobic) bacteria. If there is not enough oxygen, unfriendly anaerobic bacteria take over. These anaerobic bacteria are slower working and in addition to producing useful products, they produce ammonia-like substances and end-products like hydrogen sulphide, which smells like rotten eggs. 

9. Layers of manure from friendly animals - Modest amounts of manure bring billions of friendly bacteria and these bacteria multiply and provide the heat needed for decomposition.

10. Biodynamic compost preparations - After building your pile with many layers from the above list, insert one dose (a teaspoon) of each of the following biodynamic preparations: chamomile, dandelion, nettle, oak bark, yarrow and valerian. Then spray the pile with valerian preparation to seal it off and bring in the Warmth Element. 

11. Turning the piles brings fresh air to the microbes - While turning is optional, it maybe necessary if the pile gets too wet in which case add more dried leaves in layers. After the temperature completely cools down, the compost is ready for use. 


As written by Rosemary Tayler, Celestial Planting Calendar 2016


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