by Nicole Wines
Today’s full moon started the last full moon cycle of winter. For Raíces EcoCulture, it marked the beginning of the time for welcoming spring. We have been busy preparing our seeds for planting, planning our gardens and looking forward to long days outside. By the next full moon, the Spring Equinox will have already passed and we will be a full week into spring.
Instead of New Year’s Resolutions, this year, I’m opting for full moon pledges, as a way to get back to using the cycles of nature to mark time and get twelve chances to start or try something new, creative and positive in my world. Since for us, today’s full moon signifies the coming of spring, and the sunlight has been longer while the days are getting warmer, it’s time to be outside more, to reconnect to nature as it wakes up and come out of hibernation. This month’s pledge will force me to spend time outside by cutting my driving and reliance on fossil fuels for transportation by at least half. Starting today, I am traveling by bike or foot whenever possible, reducing my time spent in a car, exercising my body, taking time to observe the environment and how it transforms with the change of the season.
I took my pledge seriously and started right away. On my first bike trip, I came across my first sign of Spring. If I had been in my car, I probably never would have noticed these Snow Drops, much less taken the time to stop and photograph them. I certainly wouldn’t have smelled the earth fresh from days of rain, warming up, shifting, getting ready to sprout new spring life or noticed the speed of the Raritan River as I rolled along in the open air. Clocking over 20 miles of travel on bike and 2 miles on foot the first day, without getting in the car once, I realized that if I keep it up and the weather works with me on the days I need to travel, I could cut out 500-600 miles of driving each month. Less driving, less gas, less reliance on fossil fuel, less emissions. One person alone altering their mode of transportation won’t save the world. It won’t clean up the atmosphere or reverse global climate change, but if we are going to talk about EcoCulture, going green and living naturally, reducing my own dependencies on fossil fuels is the right thing to do. And perhaps sharing it will inspire others to be more mindful of how they get around too.
This full moon didn’t just call for a full moon pledge though, it called for a spring celebration. We welcomed the season of spring preparations by visiting one of the Raíces Micro Farm plots to plant our first seeds of the year. Yes, in February.
Under the cover of our homemade recycled cold-frame, the soil was rich, moist and warmer than the ground soil. We loosened the soil, added some compost and prepped it as a seed bed for cold-weather crops.
Thanks to a group seed order, a recent seed swap in our community and a generous donation of seed packets from High Mowing Organic Seeds, we have about 15 varieties of lettuce, 5 of spinach, a few varieties of kale and lots of radish seed, all organic and all non-GMO. We had to pick just a few varieties of the many seeds we have to start in our covered seed bed. Hopefully, many of them will sprout, and we can transplant them according to the biodynamic moon cycle planting we will be using this year.
It will probably get very cold again, but we aren’t worried about our seeds. Even with a few deep freezes this year, some of the plots, including one of ours, at our MicroFarm site still had spinach, lettuce, beets, kale and carrots growing uncovered throughout the winter and they are still looking good. And the seeds we planted today have their cold-frame/mini-greenhouse to keep them warm.
I’m glad the Full Snow Moon was this far into February. It was the perfect day for planting to celebrate the coming of Spring.
If you’ve been looking forward to spring planting too, join us in Highland Park next Monday, March 4 at 7 for our Eco Culture Sustainability Meeting. The meeting topic is Seed Starting and Spring Garden Planning. We will have introductions to seed starting, winter sowing and permaculture, a question and answer session with local gardeners, hands-on seed starting, DIY seed packet making and seed swapping. We will also hold a seed swap at the meeting, so bring seeds if you have them to share and swap. You will get to take home some started seeds from the hands on workshop, whether or not you are participating in the seed swap! The meeting will be held at the Reformed Church of Highland Park in the Parlor (19-21 S. 2nd Ave., Highland Park, NJ). For more info on our Sustainability meetings, see our EcoCulture homepage.