6 – Prunings & Cuttings

Pruning

It helps pruning after flowering to give an application of horn manure on a root day in your planting season (descending moon or moon riding low).Think about it, you’ve just cut the flowering branches, and before they go to seed usually too, so the plant hasn’t finished its own cycle. It is in a strong growing period (early spring) so the pruning encourages more growth – which, of course, is what you want so more flowering wood is grown for next year. If you give the soil around its roots a dose of horn manure you strengthen them and they can support new growth more easily so the tree does better.This kind of dosing with 500 can go on throughout the year with the various prunings and cuttings back we have to do on flowering plants and on fruit trees too. Biodynamic gardening for the ordinary gardener who does flowers as well as veg is a bit more complicated than for the farmer and market gardener. We want our gardens looking good throughout the year so we have to work with that in mind, not just the simple seasons.

Cuttings

Another thing ordinary gardeners do is take cuttings of perennial plants we want more of, as well as propagating non-hardy and half-hardy annuals we don’t always want to grow from seed – e.g. tender lavenders and salvias. Also the flowering plants get old and need renewing, cuttings are an excellent way of doing this. Again biodynamics helps with this.There are two ways of thinking on this front:·         cuttings need roots as soon as possible so they become self-sufficient·         cuttings taken on the relevant day for what you want them to do encourage that part of the plant – flowers on flower days etc.There is logic in both arguments. I usually take cuttings on root days and then cultivate the cuttings, including transplanting to bigger pots, the nursery bed and final planting, on the relevant plant day. This works for me. The logic is that, first off, I’m encouraging the roots, the mainstay of the plants and helping them establish as quickly as possible, then I’m encouraging the plant to do what I would like it to – flower well, produce beautiful foliage, have glorious seed-heads. And I use preps 500 and 501 appropriately too.I prepare the potting compost with a light spraying of 500 before I start – this is best done a few days before you’re going to pot up the cuttings. I make my own potting compost from our own compost-bins, leaf mould and mole-hill earth that I collect whenever I see a molehill. Moles produce superb soil in their little hills, even better than soil that’s had nettles growing in it although that is wonderful too. I use John Innes proportions (just about) for the various mixes and add sand that is very high in silica which I have to buy in. As we have a wood-burning stove the ash from that gets composted and used on the garden and in the potting composts too.I dip the ends of the cuttings in a small amount of the 500 as I’m potting up. This means adding another hour to your work if you can manage it, to stir up the 500. You only need a little bit so I use a tiny amount of 500 in a Pyrex bowl and stir with a wooden whisk – all kept for gardening purposes of course. As it’s a root day, any left-overs go in the indoor plants pots. NB – don’t forget your indoor and conservatory plants when you do ordinary stirrings as well!

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