The Soil Revolution part 5 – The lack of Biodiversity

The Soil Revolution part 5 – The lack of Biodiversity

photo by Jimmy Chan

Since 1970 the number of species and animals declined by a staggering 69%. Some regions fare better than others, but it is clear that it is not an endless pool of resources. Loss of habitat and pollution are the main culprits right now. But if we don’t get climate change under control and limit to the barrier of 1.5 degrees C. warming, this problem will grow exponentially. 

These figures are taken from the World Economic Forum data. It is telling that this data is released by a group that is interested in economics and not by an organization that champions climate change. A loss of diversity will also have a big impact on business. The bad news is that we have come a long way in this decline. In India, for example, birds are literally falling out of the sky due to pollution!  This is just one appalling example of how bad air quality can get. Pollution in our seas is not much better. Corals, crustaceans, sharks, and sea turtles are all battling with massive declines. But we can (just about) still turn it around. One of the first U-turns should start with the soil and is called Regenerative Agriculture. 

Regenerative versus conventual agriculture

Since the 1st World War and the introduction of pesticides and fertilizers the soil structure has suffered a great deal. Before these ‘great inventions’ food was not harvested and in fact, all leftovers were put back onto the compost heap where it turned back into high-quality soil. This process went hand in hand with the seasons and one growing cycle prepared the soil for the next season. A teaspoon of healthy soil contains up to 6 billion microorganisms including fungi, insects, and microbes. All work together to turn last year’s waste into the new soil, so desperately needed for the growing cycle ahead.

Pesticides destroy these organisms, turning the soil into dust. Artificial fertilizers have to fill in and mimic the life-giving quality of the now-dead microbes.  Once the crop is growing, another cycle of pesticides gets rid of yet more microbes until hardly any are left and more fertilizer is needed for the next crop. And so the cycle of doom continues. These microorganisms are further food for worms and larger insects, which all suffer in turn as they struggle to find food.  Once the worms die, species further up the food chain follow their fate. If we are keen to protect the songbirds and bees, we need to start with the reparation of the soil as this is the beginning and end of the cycle. 

Conventional Agriculture is mostly interested in profit, taking from the earth without putting anything back. This can only work for a short period of time and we are now reaching the beginning of the end.  There is a great difference between arable land (where all plants are the same) and wildlife (where growing goes on as nature intended, preserving all kinds of species and letting them exist in harmony).

Although yields are initially higher in extensively farmed fields, the way we are going there soon (30-50 years from now) may not be enough soil left in the world to feed the whole population. Soil is precious and can’t be created overnight. In fact, a thin layer of topsoil takes decades to establish. Even if we started now to eradicate all use of pesticides and fertilizers we would still have a shortage of top-quality soil. It is a topic not much talked about, yet it touches our very existence. 

A regenerative agricultural system embraces a much more holistic approach. Rudolf Steiner warned over a hundred years ago that pesticides will destroy the soil and so he founded Biodynamic farming where cultivation of the soil has top priority. Special soil preparations are added to the land to enhance productivity. As they only contain natural ingredients (like chamomille, yarrow, nettle, dung, etc) the microorganisms in the soil are not destroyed, but actively fed. The quantities are also not vast. For example, 50-60 liters of water with 250-300g horn manure added will fertilize a hectare of farmland. 

Harvested biodynamic produce is very healthy and although the quantities may be slightly less, it is stronger (there is less waste and rot) and tastes a lot better. And of course, it is much healthier as there is no chemical pollution involved. Pesticides are not only harmful to wildlife but are passed on from the farm to the plate, especially if the produce is not thoroughly washed. Organic or biodynamic produce must also be washed, not to get rid of toxins, but rather to get rid of little flies and wildlife which enjoy these foods as much as we do. 

How does the future of farming look like? 

It depends on the consumers. Do we reject mass production and instead look out for organic and biodynamic farmed food or do we predominantly buy mass-produced food? One issue that always comes up is price. But that is sadly very shortsighted. With energy and fertilizer prices rising exponentially, there will soon be a tipping point where organic food may be even cheaper. In fact, we have almost reached this point. My organic fruit and veg box sourced directly from the farm costs already less than if I was to source the same quantity (often far more inferior in taste and size) at the local supermarket. With soil eradication moving on at this speed, organic plots of land will become highly sought after. So it is an interesting space to watch. Let’s hope we keep enough healthy soil alive in the process. 

Grow your own: Another sticking point is that organic farming is more labor-intensive. Weeding needs to be done by hand, as ‘weed’ and ‘crop’ grow next to each other. As plants often cross-fertilize, some organic farmers only weed, when the other plants (in this case weeds) threaten to take over the resources of their intended crop.  Agricultural and recreational spaces are not clearly separated but can be enjoyed together. This is the old-fashioned way of farming and you can grow like this in your garden. In fact, the new trend is vertical gardening. Hanging many pots on wireframes means a small garden can produce a fair amount of food, whilst you can still enjoy a field of wildflowers or a natural lawn. The soil should still be produced in a  compost heap and refreshed in the pots after each growing season.

 If you want to read the series ‘Welcome to the Soil Revolution’ from the beginning – please click below to join Part 1.

Part 1   Where are we now?  


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New you or new fad?

New you or new fad?

My new authentic self‘Every year I make a resolution to change myself. This year, I make a resolution to be my authentic self ‘

Yesterday my husband and I discussed the topic ‘self-help’. I am a self-confessed ‘self-help junkie’ and have been like this ever since I can remember. I was already doing this before it was recognized or even fashionable, so have a bit of experience in this field.

My husband’s point was that there was now too much of it out there. The pressure to constantly thrive for the ‘best version of you’ makes people unhappy and stressed. I actually agree with him.

But there are of course different versions of self-help. As this vast topic of ‘self-help’ has become so fashionable,  a lot of marketers are jumping on the bandwagon selling a lot of bad advice for huge sums of money. In my view, this is not self-help, but marketing some kind of new fad diet, plan, or product with totally unrealistic expectations and no long-term relevance.

Real self-help is being introspective and shining a light on what is not working so well for you. There is no fad, this is just a fact. We all have areas we struggle with and these are very individual. We often hear of people who we perceive as ‘super successful’ only to find out later down the line that they had actually a real rotten time during their ‘streak of public success’.

Can this be described as ‘real success’ – probably not.  I feel that a real sense of accomplishment comes from a place of contentment and moving forward in one’s own authentic and timely manner. It is not a static status quo, but an ever-evolving work of progress. It has to be done in alignment with what you need and what you are currently capable of achieving.  Otherwise, it becomes an unrealistic strain that leads to misery and self-doubt.

If an aspect of your life is not working, doing more of the same is insanity. So how do you change? In order to find a new way, it does make sense to look around to get advice and ideas of what works for others.  This is not a fad.  This is called a short cut and I am all for this.

If you had a burning desire to climb Kilimanjaro during the coming year, it would make sense to talk to someone who did the same journey last year. This person could give you a lot of advice on what gear to bring, which season to choose, and which local support network they would recommend. Doing no research at all and just going there with no preparation would be insane and dangerous.

So why don’t we follow through in this manner with all other areas of our life? 
That is exactly what I intend to do with Living With The Moon. I have been trawling through tons of advice, research, and old charts/tips left by my grandmother and have ordered them into categories relating to your
cleansing routine
Health and beauty – Looking Good – the turquoise symbols
Garden and Interior Design
Gardening and Home – Happy House – the green symbols
romance and love
Relationships and Love – Feeling love – the pink symbols
Ideas and brainstorming
Career, Vocation, and Money – the grey-blue symbols

Finding Balance

Happiness, inner fulfillment – Feeling great – yellow symbols

Look out for them in the LWTM Lifestyle Holistic Lifestyle  Calendar and click on the symbol descriptions for more information

Everybody who has followed this website for a while knows that I am not a big fan of big New Year Resolutions.  It never worked for me. That is why I put together the holistic life goal plannerLWTM Lifegoal Planner with a step-by-step program to gently guide you through the rapids of life. You get a free copy when you join our free LWTM membership. I put this together as a tool to help you and not as a fad to make money.
I hope you find it as useful as I do.

Have a happy and productive  2023


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Recession-proof living

Recession-proof living

Jam and chutneys“Happiness is like jam – you can’t spread even a little without getting some on yourself” 

Since the 2nd World War, the world on the whole has been on an upward trend. Bigger, better, faster – certainly the last few decades – was the motto.  But now the momentum is slowly turning to go slow, community and nature. It has been coming for a while, but the Covid epidemic accelerated this process.

There is so much fear attached to the word ‘recession’. If you are not 100% sure what the term means – it is the economy shrinking for the last 2 consecutive quarters. The economy follows like nature cycle behavior. The economic winter (recession) is therefore an inevitable season and the preparation for new shoots to come.

Instead of fretting, let’s look a the good points a recession can bring:

  • We are forced to stop and think about what we really need and get rid of all that is surplus anyway.
  • We get more efficient with natural resources – food, energy to name a few.
  • Material possession gets less important and intangible qualities such as love, friendship, happiness, and nature come to the front. You can enjoy it a lot –  even with very little money.
  • Goods actually get cheaper and if you have looked after your pennies and have some savings,  now is the time to make big purchases. But go for quality rather than quantity.
  • It forces you to invite change into your life – a change of job, scenery, change of mind, and heart.

Economically speaking we are about to enter the phase of winter. The time to save, reflect and reorganize.

The ‘Biodynamic lifestyle’ is actually very compatible with this life phase.

  • It pushes you to be conscious of the environment and its natural rhythms
  • it urges you to produce less waste and recycle whenever possible
  • It is a very economically efficient way of life where you rely more on what you can produce instead of what you can consume.

Now that times are getting tougher and the environment is close to breaking point, this way of life makes real sense. So why are we not all living like this?

preserving food  Producing takes skill and time. Once you take the time to learn the skill again, you will get faster and better and you will just love making your own homemade products. There is nothing nicer than bringing your homemade jam or chutney to friends. It is a thoughtful and useful present. As food prices rise you want to use up any bought food.  Here are a few recipes for you to try

Winter Chutney: 

Ingredients:  300g carrots, 400g apples, 300g onions, 200g tomatoes, 2 red peppers, 400g red wine vinegar or apple vinegar, 2 tbsp (tablespoon) sultanas, 1 tsp (teaspoon) salt, 1 tsp pepper, ½ tsp of cinnamon powder, a pinch of cayenne pepper, 500g jam sugar.

1)  Wash fruit and vegetables, chop, peel, deseed and dice them into small pieces and put all ingredients into a large, very clean pan. Bring to boil and cook gently for about 1 hour, stirring regularly. When vegetables have the desired consistency, pour the hot mixture into clean glass jars and seal immediately with cling film. Leave to cool. The chutneys last for a couple of months unopened.

Strawberry Jam: 

Ingredients: 1kg strawberries, 1kg jam sugar, 1 small unwaxed lemon, a small pinch of pepper

Wash strawberries remove stalks and cut them into small pieces. Rinse lemon and grate the rind finely. Put the strawberries, grated rind, pepper, and sugar in a clean pot and boil for about 4-5 minutes. Pour straightaway into clean (wash out with boiling water) jars, cover with cling film and tightly close the lids. Makes around 8-9 jars, depending on size. The best time to do this is of course in June but you can use this recipe for similar fruit jams, for example, plum jam – but I would substitute the pepper with a pinch of cinnamon. 

 Home-made cleaning products: 

Living in a biodynamic home and garden,  you will be surrounded by more diversity than most other gardens that use pesticides. The upshot is that you will attract lots of wildlife into your garden. In our garden – in the middle of London- we have earthworms, butterflies, spiders, cats, bees, many bird species, squirrels and even foxes can be seen on a daily basis.  But sometimes all these lovely creatures can become a bit much – especially when you have moths invading your clothes cupboards and eating your most loved garments. It can be a dilemma if you don’t want to use pesticides. So here is a recipe for my own super-effective and totally organic moth deterrent. And as a bonus it makes the carpet and furniture look great, too.

Here is my home-made recipe that protects your clothes from moth or other insect infestation:
Get a large empty spray bottle (the ones you would mist your flowers with) and fill it with a mixture of 2/4 washing-up liquid (I use a lavender-infused liquid soap – you can dilute it slightly with some water),  1/4 99% IPA (alcohol) and 1/4 of white vinegar. Shake it well and mist it on your furniture, carpets, and even clothes. I also use this mixture on garden plants that have infestations like aphids.

Here is an article about home-made cleaning products 

Don’t throw food away before you do this:
Here is one of my favorite tips to rehydrate vegetables and salads that have gone a bit limp. Fill a bowl of cold water and add a small capful of white vinegar (in fact any vinegar will do, but go for a cheap one here as the results are the same). Chop your salad, and vegetables up and immerse them in the water.  Leave them in the bowl for around 30 minutes and you will have crisp, ready-to-eat salads and vegetables on your plate.

These are just a few examples of the many ways you can save and help the environment.  Initially, it does take a bit of effort and experimenting. But over time these recipes are quick to make and once you get used to the taste of homemade produce there is no going back!

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Lunar and solar eclipses

Lunar and solar eclipses

Lunar and Solar Eclipses have been mythical events since the beginning of time. 

Traditionally eclipses bring major changes, unpredictable situations, shocking revelations, and/or sudden endings. The advice used to be, don’t take too many risks or make too many changes during this unpredictable time. But eclipses can also be catalysts, showing up things that were hidden before which now are coming to light. For example, you become aware your partner is having an affair or a much more positive thought – for a while, your boss had you in mind for a promotion, but now it comes to light and you get the offer.

Some Ancient rulers took the prediction of eclipses and their linked fate very seriously as they believed an eclipse signaled a bad omen. Almost 4000 years ago the Chinese king Zhong Kang beheaded 2 of his astronomers for failing to predict accurately when the next eclipse would appear. The Assyrians and later Babylonians were more accurate in their predictions.  One text mentions the solar eclipse during June 763 B.C. which was well observed and recorded.

Another connection often made with eclipses is the appearance of natural disasters. The archaeologist Bruce Masse claimed that an eclipse happened at the time of a major meteor impact in the Indian Ocean on May 10th, 2807 B.C., and subsequent floods and tsunamis followed.

Lunar eclipses: 

There are total ( when the moon, sun, and earth practically align) and partial lunar eclipses  – when only part of the sun is darkened. Lunar eclipses are always linked to New Moons and only occur during this time. When you see a full lunar eclipse the moon (normally invisible at New Moon) turns dark red as illuminated not by the sun, but by the light coming from the earth’s atmosphere.

Why don’t we see a lunar eclipse on every New Moon? 

In fact, if the moon were to orbit in a perfect circle around the Earth, exactly this scenario would happen. But the lunar path is slightly tilted, in fact, leaning around 5 degrees, so it misses the perfect position by a bit. But occasionally the path slightly overlap (partial eclipse) and on rarer occasions perfectly align – that is then a full lunar eclipse.

Here is a clip that shows exactly what happens during a lunar eclipse 

Solar eclipses

These only happen during Full Moon and we often speak of ‘eclipse cycles’. This means the planet’s parth rotate in a way that they align or overlap. On average 2-5 eclipses occur during one eclipse season,  lasting around 12-16 months. Total eclipses are very rare astronomical events that have had historically immense meanings and have always captured our imagination. So it is not surprising eclipses have been linked to important historical events. There apparently was a solar eclipse when Jesus died and another when Mohammed was born.

In 1919 a total lunar eclipse blocked all sunlight for a full 6 minutes and 51 seconds, giving scientists time to measure the bending of the light from the stars. These findings were instrumental in the explanation of Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

Find out more about historically significant solar eclipses  

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Moon Guides

Moon Guides

Moon guides have existed for thousands of years and below you can find out why they are still so important and how you can use them for your daily benefit. But at first, let’s look a bit at how they came into the world. 

From as early as 30,000 B.C. hunter and gather societies have used the moon cycle to guide them through their life, give them light throughout the night, and scheduled their days. One of the earliest known ‘calendars’ was found in the Dordogne Region of France and consisted of animal bones. You can find out more about the origin of the moon calendar on this blog.

Many civilizations, more notably the Greeks and Romans scheduled their lives according to the path of the moon, and the first moon guides were established. Each generation added extra information and observations to these calendars. Eventually, this knowledge developed into an almanac.

What is an almanac?

Generally speaking, we think about an annual calendar publication that includes the movement of the sun, moon, eclipses,
black moons and blue moons, tide tables, planting dates, and various tips and lifestyle advice.

The first ever documented use of the word almanac was in 1267 by Roger Bacon, a Franciscan friar and medieval English philosopher. He set out to publish a set of tables to detail the path of the moon and other well-known planets and referred to it as an almanac. The actual word almanac comes from the Coptic-Egyptian literature where these tables were called almenickiaka. 

There are also other sources that claim it comes from the Arabic work al-manakh, but the exact origin remains a mystery.

But never mind where the word comes from, almanacs have been in use for thousands of years, giving structure to people’s lives, and highlighting good and bad days for agriculture, fishing, and hunting. Until not so long ago they were the backbone of the agricultural systems all around the world.

The Babylonian Almanac

These keen stargazers connected all sorts of events to the rhythm of the universe and collected this information in their own  Babylonian Luni-solar Calendar.  Still one of the most impressive examples of lunar guides. Their interpretations of certain star patterns,  good and bad dates for certain activities were passed down through the generations.

Some examples of these handwritten moon guides have survived and can be viewed in the British Museum in London. When Guttenberg invented the printing press these guides were among the first commercially printed books and traveled on ships to the New World.

Poor Richard’s Almanack

There the imported European guides were soon superseded by homegrown US versions. The most successful was called Poor Richard’s Almanack which saw a yearly print run of nearly 10,000 copies a year and this publication ran from 1732 to 1758. It was written and published by Richard Saunders and sold exceptionally well.  Apart from the usual calendar tips, it also contained puzzles, household tips, and amusements for the whole family.

Later versions added proverbs with life advice,  stories on how to run the household, and tales of moral behavior. All delivered with a touch of humor, and a dash of cynicism.Not surprising as Richard Saunders was in fact the pen name of no other than Benjamin Franklin, who later became one of the founding fathers of the United States of America.

How can I benefit from an almanac today?

These valuable guides have not lost their benefits. In fact, with so many other news channels, TV, streamers, social media, etc vying for your attention, it is really important to have a constant guide in your life. It turns your focus on what really matters in your life.

Your health, your environment, your relationships, your career/vocation, and your spirituality. And as we saw in a previous article – where focus goes, energy flows. 

Once you have these elements under control and in balance, you are able to take on the world with a positive mindset. And down-to-earth tips and recipes prove especially useful in a time when money is scarce and the future is uncertain.

I am in the process of publishing my very first almanac with useful tips and recipes, partly passed down from my grandmother and partly gained through my extensive research. And I can not wait to share it with you all!

mood guides







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