Weeds are weeds only from our human egotistical point of view, because they grow where we do not want them. In Nature, however, they play an important and interesting role. They resist conditions which cultivated plants cannot resist, such as drought, acidity of soil, lack of humus, mineral deficiencies, as well as a one-sidedness of minerals, etc. They are witness of man’s failure to master the soil, and they grow abundantly wherever man has ‘missed the train’ - they only indicate our errors and Nature’s corrections. Weeds want to tell a story - they are nature’s means of teaching man, and their story is interesting. If we would only listen to it we could apprehend a great deal of the finer forces through which Nature helps and heals and balances, and sometimes, also has fun with us.
—  Weeds And What They Tell, by E. Pfeiffer
Magical Herbs (part 4)

Biodynamic Gardening

Biodynamic gardening is very involved, but does prove better results. You can get as into it or not as the mood takes you. Many types of astrology affect the way in which you garden, but the Moon is the most powerful.

*The Science (ish): in the same way the moon pulls and pushes on the seas to form tides, it pulls and pushes on the groundwater to affect the hydration of the soil. Waxing = Water near the surface. Waning = pushing the water down*

Moon Gardening - Planting

New moon - First Quarter

  • Plant Leafy plants - herbs of which you are going to use the leaves

First Quarter - Full moon

  • Plant Fruit Crops - anything with an internal seed (especially if you are using the seed)

Full moon - Last Quarter

  • Root crops. Any plant that you will be using the root of

Last Quarter - New Moon

  • No planting OR
  • Planting that you want to be stunted (eg Mint, Dandelion, Lemonbalm)
  • Other garden chores

Moon Gardening - Harvesting

New moon - First Quarter

  • Good for harvesting Leaves and other parts that are above the ground.

Full moon - Last Quarter

  • Good for harvesting roots and parts of the plant that are below the ground.

Zodiac and Astrology

Using the position of the moon within the zodiac can also give you an added boost to the properties of the herb. For example, when the moon is in a water sign, harvest leaves and other aerial parts. When in an air sign, harvest flowers.


  • Use online calendars to help you figure out the best days for all kinds of activities (a single google search got me quite a few options, and many seem to be good at giving you a day-by-day guide to which plants you should be harvesting, and what you should be sowing/planting. I especially liked this one, and this one)
  • Remember, all of this is growing for maximum impact. If you don’t use these techniques in your garden, then your herbs are still potent, but may not be as powerful when used in your rituals. It’s the additional effort and intent associated with this style of gardening, along with the alignment of other powers, which adds to the potency. This style of gardening isn’t possible for everyone (ie: “I should harvest this at 3pm next Tuesday, but I definitely have work/school/meeting/shopping that I nee to be doing at that time.”) so don’t get too hung up if it’s not possible.
  • All of these calendars and systems will get you more in tune with the natural rhythms of the earth, and especially the seasons. This connection is quite Druidic, but many paths can benefit from the practice
  • Crossover Food, Medicine and Magic. Adding herbs to your food and cooking with intent can give your food magical and/or healing properties. Give your whole family a garlic-heavy meal if you’re all suffering with a cold, or have a specially prepared casserole frozen and ready for when you need a little pick-me-up after a hard day (though it will always be better fresh).

A good way to learn

Start with 6 herbs that you use regularly or are magically important for the spells + rituals that you do most often. Plant them and begin to grow them as magically as you are able, and get to know the calendar as it pertains to these plants. You’re not trying to remember everything in one year, you’re just getting to know the cycles by using these plants as a reference. Maybe next year, you’ll be confident enough in your basic understanding to add some more herbs to your garden.

The goal is to get to a point with the herbs that you have where all your magical, botanical and herbal knowledge is in sync. There are many lifetimes worth of knowledge and understanding, and you can devote as much or as little time as you wish to understanding the whole system.

It’s so nice and smart and pragmatic of Seattle to stop wasting resources on landscaping in favour of productive green spaces following natural growth models. Treelala. Get away from those tulip bulbs, world. Get away from them.

Further permaculture viewing/reading/doing: Rebecca Hoskin’s BBC documentary on Permaculture, the Food Forest at Everdale, outside Toronto.

Weeds are specialists. Having learned something in the battle for survival, they will survive under circumstances where our cultivated plants, softened through centuries of protection and breeding, cannot stand up against Nature’s caprices. Weeds, therefore, may be grouped according to their peculiarities. There are three major and several minor groups. The major groups are our main teachers, indicating through their mere presence and multiplication what is wrong.

The first major group comprises of weeds living on acid soil and indicating increasing acidity. To this group belong the Sorrels, Docks, Fingerleaf Weeds, Lady’s Thumb, and Horsetail on slightly acid soil.

The second major group indicates a crust formation and/or hard pan in the soil. Here belong the Field Mustard, the Horse Nettle, Penny Cress, Morning Glory, Quack Grass, the Camomiles, and Pineapple Weed.

The third major group consists of those weeds which follow human steps and cultivation, frequently spreading out with compost, manure, and wherever man “walks”. Here belong Lamb’s Quarters, Plantain, Chickweed, Buttercup, Dandelion, Nettle, Prostrate Knotweed, Prickly Lettuce, Field Speedwell, Rough Pigweed, Common Horehound, Celandine, Mallow, Carpetweed, and other similar plants, all too frequent companions of our gardens and yards.

Minor groups consist of those which show up here and there - they are not necessarily WEEDS - unless encouraged by man. They are, more-or-less, an extension of nature into the realm of man.

—  Weeds And What They Tell, by E. Pfeiffer.

Become a Biodynamic Gardener, and grow your own. Learn about “the buddy system” and “companion plantings” as well as composting and crop rotation. Certain plants benefit by growing near other plants: tall crops can provide a canopy for shorter crops; leeks will repel carrot flies; include flowering herbs and perennials to attract beneficial insects. 

Illustration:  Genevieve Simms 



While the spiritual (‘woo’) side of biodynamic agriculture holds no appeal for me, I certainly use the more rational components of this theory in my gardening.

Above is a simple biodynamic fertiliser, made of nettle, dandelion, ground elder, and thistles in rainwater. I pull up ‘weeds’ from a section in the garden, let them steep in rainwater for three days in the sun, and then dilute the resulting mix with ten parts clean rainwater.

The result is a mixture with a rich diversity of nutrients, bacteria, and fungi. It’s great for watering trees and shrubs.

I like this method because it changes the way ‘weeds’ are perceived in my day-to-day work. I can treat them more like biomass for harvest, rather than a nuisance.

After being soaked, I can lay the remaining plant tissues out to dry, and use them as a mulch. All the things that are grown in this soil are returned to it, which prevents soil depletion.

This practice stinks to high heaven, but certainly makes some beautiful growth happen.


This is a biodynamic lunar planting guide chart. Crops are broken down into Leaf, Root, Flower or Fruit crops and planted according to which zodiac sign the moon is passing through. 

Give it a try!  I’m going to start posting what to plant when, every day, to help out with everyone’s succession planting for their winter garden if you live in a temperate climate. This is also a great way to focus you and organize you as to what to plant when, instead of being bogged down by planting everything at once. Don’t blow your load- plant successively to harvest continually throughout the winter. This will also help you create and FEEL nature’s rhythm. Literally, go with the flow.

Have some fun with it, do your own experiments, and see what you think. 

Peace out, honeybuns, and rest up ‘cause tomorrows a root planting day!




Veggie Bed #4

Cross section of a new no-dig, raised “lasagna” bed // summer growth.

I am mixing three different kinds of raised bed technique here to raise/even the grade, and create a workable soil surface without digging: lasagna gardening, straw bale gardening, and hugelkultur.

#Lasagna gardening is using newspaper or cardboard, layered with compost, in order to build up the height of a raised bed.

#Straw bale gardening is planting crops in fermenting straw bales, which provides heat, moisture retention, and nutrition to crops.

#Hugelkultur (“hill culture” in German) is building up the grade of the soil using logs, sticks, and other forms of wood, and covering with compost, which sequesters carbon, and provides a nutritious, well-drained, elevated, aerated substrate for plants.


  • Red Kuri Squash, planted in a straw bale (Thanks to desixlb for the seeds)
  • Scarlet Runner Beans, using an old crib as a trellis (Thanks to kihaku-gato for the seeds)
  • Hild’s Ideal Brussels Sprouts
  • Spring Onions

More (tagged as #biodiverseed veggie beds):  Veggie Bed #1Veggie Bed #2 - Veggie Bed #3Veggie Bed #5


Came across the image of biodynamic treatments via Permaculture Magazine’s Pinterest and found the origin …

Biodynamics & Wine: Or, What Poop, Crystals, and the Moon Have in Common

Will Hooker talks about using these treatments in making compost in his NC State Permaculture course (I can’t remember which lecture). The lectures are all online and worth a watch if you are interested in permaculture.

Strong Female Protagonist is an incredibly smart feminist webcomic that deals with complex issues of identity and power and social justice- all that on top of also being about fun, funny superheroes (and villains!). Molly and Brennan  are making something really special, and they just launched a Kickstarter for their first print volume!

I did a portrait of a younger Alison Green as Mega-Girl for the GUARDIAN reward tier- it’s a trading card-style postcard pack with guest art by Faith Erin HicksMeredith Gran, Chris Hastings, meAimee FleckHannah KriegerAatmaja Pandya, and Peter Schmidt. PRETTY DANG COOL.

Go check out the kickstarter!