Chris Slade describes the son et lumiere presentation at the abbey of Bon Repos called "Le Pays de Conomor" in Brittany, which takes place during the first two weeks of August.
The moon and my French garden
I have always been a keen, if amateur, gardener, and absolutely swear by my trusted lunar calendar. When we moved to Brittany, we inherited a huge garden (by British standards, certainly), made up of several areas: a vegetable patch, an orchard, a massive lawn, even a wildflower field. With a garden this beautiful, varied and interesting, there is no excuse not to get my hands dirty and muddy!
The weather in Southern Brittany has been fantastic for the last fortnight: 30-35 degrees EVERY day. Incredible! Can it last? Some might find it a bit too hot, but I personally love it. It gives me such a great excuse to go outdoors and give tender love and care to my beautiful garden.
The vegetable patch has been dug, manured, onions have been planted and parsnip seeds were sown – what next? Every year I vow to garden by the moon. Not literally during the night but to follow the cycles of the moon.
If the moon can control the tides and stop me sleeping then surely it can give me bumper crops. The principle for gardening is the same: just like its gravitational pull causes the movement of the tides, it also affects moisture in the soil, helping seeds swell up and transform into well-established plants thanks to better germination.
Gardening according to my lunar calendar
So, in order to help me in my quest for better fruit and vegetables, I have bought a lunar calendar (un Calendrier Lunaire in French). This fabulously useful book tells me day by day the moon’s position, and I must say I follow it religiously. It has become something of a daily ritual. Not only do I need to be concerned if there is a new moon, whether it is in the premier quarter or dernier quarter, or a full moon. I should pay attention as to whether the moon is ascending or descending and how far the moon is away from the earth. At its closest, it is 356,000km and at its furthest, 406,000km.
Each day my treasured lunar calendar also reveals snippets of text giving useful advice on what tasks to perform in the garden:
- for example, today is the most favourable time for sowing and planting, as some plants have specific days of sowing and planting.
- another good piece of advice concerns watering: on some days it is better to refrain from watering plants, as doing so might encourage the presence of pests.
- it highlights the best days for fertilizing plants with chemical and natural fertilizers.
- it recommends the most auspicious times for harvesting and freezing fruit. On that subject, why not take a look at our apple pressing article?
- it points out the most favourable time for collecting and preserving root vegetables.
Obviously, these are just a few examples given by my lunar calendar. There are many, many more handy snippets of advice in my precious, detailed book!
Learning about fruit and vegetables
It may all sound very complicated, but thankfully at the back of the lunar calendar, you will find a little chart which also gives more details about each plant/fruit/vegetable individually, and the list is quite exhaustive:
Flowering vegetables: courgettes, broccoli, artichokes, etc.
Leafy vegetables: spinach, cabbage, watercress, etc.
Vegetable fruits: tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, pumpkins, etc.
Root vegetables: carrots, turnips, parsnips, potatoes, etc.
All I have to do now is to work out what categories my seeds fall into – what vegetable is deemed to be legumes fruits?
I just hope that I am patient enough to follow the moons advice… as soon as the sun is out I want to be out too planting!