The NOLA big chill.
Recently temperatures dropped so low in New Orleans bridges and interstates were closed and the city’s public works were pushed to their limits. It wasn’t just the temperature, there was a great deal of ice on roads and sidewalks around the area. People went days without water and crashed their cars or fell on their keester trying to move around. The city was essentially CLOSED. It’s sort of uncanny since there’s really nothing too impressive about the recent icy weather. We had 7 nights below 32, lowest was 20 setting a new record low. On 2 days the temperature didn’t get above freezing,the gusted to 25 mph plus the rain, freezing, rain, sleet and snow. "It's a little bit unusual, but certainly not unprecedented," said Louisiana State Climatologist Barry Kleim. And “What's happening right now doesn't refute climate change, but it doesn't support it either, "I would say that it says absolutely nothing about global warming."
WE were prepared for freezing temperatures by collecting lots of pine straw and buying rolls of heavy plastic. We use pine straw throughout the backyard; It covers the walkways and is also layered a few inches deep in between the pots which helped keep them warm. Plus it looks nice and it’s free! Plants in pots are a little more susceptible to harm from the cold so I've had to cover the garden three times so far this winter. We used some heavy line to build a grid above the plants to support the plastic. Then we layered the plastic over the line and weighted it down with branches and bricks. On the coldest days we used two layers of plastic and made extra sure that the ends were weighted down to prevent drafts. We also had to work the plastic that was covering the plants during the day.The ends had to be opened up to prevent the plastic from trapping heat thus creating an extreme greenhouse effect that may have “steamed” the plants.
The garden here at Allos Anthropos did suffer some damage, but overall the plants are strong as ever. We mainly grow classical plants for magical purposes and not many are tropical. Most of our plants are zone 8 hardy (10 - 20 degrees F) so they can live in the recent temps but I did have to take measures pre-freeze. The patchouli had to be harvested before the first frost as it doesn’t like the cold at all, luckily it grows quickly and produces a decent harvest even when grown annually. Borage was harvested, it wouldn’t have fared well either and also grows easily from seed. The lemongrass was believed to be cold hardy and covered with the others- MISTAKE. The tops of the lemongrass are brown; I hope I can simply remove the tops and they will regrow in the spring. We’ll use this lemongrass as an ingredient in our Sabbat bundles or incense pellets. It smells great but is a little brown. My Murraya koenigii (curry) trees are good and the greens on the horseradish died back so we’ll harvest some soon. So in the end older plants and less tropical fared better (who knew? ;- ) ).
There is going to be Full Moon and Lunar Eclipse Jan 31. Some activities for Allos Anthropos in next couple of weeks are going to include trimming and transplanting. Some of the plants we will be trimming are wormwood, valerian, mint, galangal and lemon. Here are but a few associations with those plants:
Wormwood- Mars, fire, psychic powers, protection, calling spirits, Iris, Artemis, Diana
Valerian Venus, water, love, sleep, purification
Lemon- Moon, water, longevity, purification, love, friendship
Mint- mercury, air, pluto, hekate, money, lust, healing, travel, exorcism, protection
Galangal-Mars, fire, protection, lust,health, money, psychic powers, hex breaking
We will be applying biodynamic formulas 500 and 501 to the soil and plants in our garden. Spring is typically the time to use 501 but our garden has been harmed by the weather and we’re using 501 to help the foliage re-establish a connection with the sun- the timing is perfect: ascending moon leading to new moon -best for 501- begins February 1. The formula 500 is being used to establish transplants.
Plants we will be transplanting: sage, clary sage, black hollyhock, golden poppy, rue, hyssop, lemongrass, belladonna, climbing nightshade, moonwort, tobacco, henbane!!!!!
We’ve had decent luck with seeds this time around. If we can now get through bug season... (it’s ALWAYS bug season!) Time to start germination of annuals- The annual plants are easiest to care for going from seed to harvest each year. Some of these are sage, hibiscus, borage and sunflowers. Other plants we grow are perennials such as henbane, belladonna and hyssop. They tend to have lower germination rates and take 1-3 years to get established and ready for use. Until mature, they are at increased risk of harm in cold temperatures and pests.
Rudolf Steiner- Description of life and cosmic forces
Our plants retreat into the earth when winter comes. It appears as though nothing is happening but nothing could be more incorrect. Everything that makes up the earth plays a role in the balance of life and cosmic forces above and below ground.
Here is a short excerpt from Rudolph Steiner discussing the physical and astral aspects of soil.
The following is from Rudolf Steiner’s second lecture June 10, 1924.
“All that works inward from the far spaces of the Cosmos to influence the growth of plants, works not directly — not by direct radiation — but in this way: It is first received by the Earth, and the Earth then rays it upward again. Thus, the influences that rise upward from the earthly soil are in reality cosmic influences rayed back again and working directly in the air and water over the Earth. The direct radiation from the Cosmos is stored up beneath the Earth's surface and works back from thence. Now these relationships determine how the earthly soil, according to its constitution, works upon the growth of plants. In reality, however, the earthly soil as such not only contains a certain life — a vegetative nature of its own — but an effective astral principle as well which means the earth receives and radiates cosmic forces and nutrients that affect plant growth.”
The organic components of the soil, hummus etc. are provided by the composts and manures put onto the earth by us. The energy from Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars, which rules underground, is attracted into the earth by the stones and rocks in the earth. Other components- the lime, silica, and clay in the soil are what transmit cosmic forces and nutrients. Lime draws underground the earthly factor that creates a digestion of forces and substances for the plants. The extent to which soil is alive and develops its own chemistry is based on the sand (silica) in the soil. Clay promotes the upward stream of the cosmic factor. The presence and balance of all of these is necessary, and their effects are true and that is what biodynamics is all about. Allos Anthropos uses (rolls of plastic and) the biodynamic method of farming and philosophy to grow all of our gardens so as to flourish in the spirit of the astral and in the physical.