Magic, logic, gardening and the lunar calendar

Cold hard facts only get you so far on the allotment

I believe in magic beans. I carry three (or more) with me always. It was an accident at first. They were left over from seed sowing, purple-podded ‘Trail of Tears’. I found them in a jacket pocket, smooth, rounded, reassuring.

After a while I transferred them from jacket to jacket, my fingers sometimes searching them out, tumbling them around, a caressing of luck. A connection with wonder, perhaps. Later, they found their way into my jeans, became constant companions.

I believe, you see, in the call of the wild. The secret world. As a child I would listen to old men divine weather through the croak and flight of crows with astonishing accuracy. See farm hands spit in their hands at the sight of magpies, salute the black and white bird. ‘Good morrow, captain; good morrow, John,’ they’d say, the wise men, connected to the country in ways I would envy. I yearned to be able to dowse with hazel or willow; to know which water was sweet, where the wild things were. I longed for connection to an elemental world.

Now I sow only by the lunar calendar. I believe in biodynamics. It maybe shouldn’t make sense, but it works. In other areas of my life I live by logic. I have balanced budgets, managed teams, schmoozed advertisers and agents. I work for a national newspaper. I trust in facts.

I don’t do Rudolf Steiner theory, but I follow the practice (though the calendar can be inconvenient). I believe it helps keep my soil alive, my leaves stay crisp, my mustards hot, my flowers thrive. The only evidence I have is taste and my eyes. I can’t tell the weather by birds. I use the BBC. I have never dowsed for water. But somehow my tiny piece of city land connects me to quiet and deep country.

Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from guardianbookshop.com

Contributor

Allan Jenkins

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
My gardening guru | Allan Jenkins
Following the example of gardening expert can inspire you to greater things, says Allan Jenkins

Allan Jenkins

20, May, 2018 @5:00 AM

Article image
Gardening jobs for July | Allan Jenkins
As high summer kicks in there is still plenty to do on the plot. But make sure you take time out to sit and enjoy the fruits of your labours, says Allan Jenkins

Allan Jenkins

01, Jul, 2018 @4:59 AM

Article image
Gardening: the stirrings of spring begin
The land, the birds, the plants – everything is coming back to life in our gardens once again

Allan Jenkins

04, Apr, 2021 @5:15 AM

Article image
Time for some armchair gardening | Allan Jenkins
As we head into the darkest months it’s time to down tools and take stock of what worked and what didn’t

Allan Jenkins

05, Dec, 2021 @6:15 AM

Article image
Why love and gardening always grow together | Allan Jenkins
When it comes to showing you care, there are so many more ways to let them know than with a bunch of roses, says Allan Jenkins

Allan Jenkins

09, Feb, 2020 @6:15 AM

Article image
Good gardening is also about good eating | Allan Jenkins
It’s time to grill sausages and talk about hopes and plans for the plot, says Allan Jenkins

Allan Jenkins

19, May, 2019 @5:00 AM

Article image
Gardening in lockdown: sow seeds of comfort at home | Allan Jenkins
In this age of anxiety, it’s reassuring to spot newly sprouted signs of life in the veg trays on the roof terrace

Allan Jenkins

26, Apr, 2020 @5:15 AM

Article image
Poles, beans and tomatoes from a gardening Yoda | Allan Jenkins
Giving thanks to the gardening gods – and a farm in the Black Mountains

Allan Jenkins

16, Jun, 2019 @5:00 AM

Article image
The slow pleasures and melancholy of autumn gardening
Fading light and failing growth brings its own beauty to the garden, says Allan Jenkins

Allan Jenkins

30, Sep, 2018 @5:00 AM

Article image
December is the time for rest and armchair gardening
It’s time to take a well-earned break and browse a few catalogues, says Allan Jenkins

Allan Jenkins

01, Dec, 2019 @6:15 AM