Hello Dear Steemit and Homesteading Friends!
Today I would like to share with you knowledge and wisdom from the Biodynamic Approach to gardening and farming. Biodynamics is a powerful system that is proving to be very effective in growing strong, healthy and vibrant plants and food. Biodynamic gardening takes what we know about Organic gardening and permaculture, and then brings in a whole new dimension; the cosmic realm! Biodynamic gardening understands and works in harmony with the influences of the moon and the planets in our solar system on water, and life. The moon cycles that happen every month are a key part of determining what to do, and what not to do on certain days. Biodynamic gardening is about timing, but also much much more. It includes various esoteric concepts drawn from the ideas of Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925). One of the leading promotors of Biodynamic Farming today is Peter Proctor who travels the world teaching and demonstrating directly to farmers how to change from their current methods.
Bio-dynamics, derived from two Greek words, bios life and dynamos energy, refers to the agriculture science that recognizes basic principles at work in nature and applies this knowledge of life forces to bring about balance and healing in the soil. In other words, it recognizes the biological values in the soil, as well as, the chemical values - hence, bio-dynamic agriculture. The methods are based on a series of eight lectures given by Rudolf SteinerDr. Rudolf Steiner,an Austrian philosopher and scientist, in 1924 at the request of German farmers. He showed how the health of soil, plants and animals depends on reconnecting nature with the creative forces of the cosmos.
Some of the advantages and benefits of this approach, even over and above good Organic gardening are:
- Biodynamics is a regenerative agriculture, holistic in approach and practice, through which the farmer and gardener bring the substances and forces of nature into high quality sustainable production.
- It is Cost Effective
- reducing fertility inputs,
- helping to produce premium quality products, and
- developing consistent production and high net returns.
- The Biodynamic Preparations
- create deeper soil and root depth,
- increase water holding capacity of soils – good in drought and flood, and
- improve plant and animal health and yield, reducing weeds and pests.
- Quality Produce
- tastes good,
- reflects the essence of your farm or garden,
- increases shelf life
- Biodynamics provides tools to make organics easier by:
- organising the nutrient cycles with the farm or garden,
- activating the soil food web, which creates humus,
- creating resilience in plants and animals against stress and extreme weather events,
- balancing the atmosphere around plants, and
- optimising growth cycles using lunar and cosmic rhythms.
A key part of successful gardening is having rich soil, and the right nutrients in place to enhance foliage and fruit production. Whilst biodynamic gardening uses the same composting techniques as in Organic gardening, we add special preparations to our compost and also our soil . These preparations are mostly herb based tinctures that have been treated and aerated in a very specific way before application. Even the application itself is even done in a very specific way! We apply many preparations to the soil by hand using a spiraing motion in very small amounts, almost homeopathic doses. Preparations are also made using the Vortexing technique. The intricacies of vortices in nature have been described by Theodor Schwenk in Sensitive Chaos (1965). According to Schwenk, vortices are created when two streams of water move past each other at different speeds. A hollow develops, into which oxygen flows:
Preparation made in Cow Horn
'Boundary surfaces, with their rhythmical processes are the birthplaces of living things.'
When we recreate this vortex in biodynamic farming, we are connecting with the universal creative water rhythms or pulse within the body of the earth. This can be found in all living things, for instance in the heartbeat. It is exciting to discover the expression of the vortex in spiral forms in nature also.
Therefore, biodynamic gardening brings together many techniques and ideas into a unified system of working, that defines your daily activities.
Since this is an introduction post, I would like to focus on the simpler concepts of Biodynamic gardening that you could pick up and start doing right away. I may write a few more posts after this, and focus on the advanced details of preparations and other techniques that a fully fledged Biodynamic Gardener would employ.
The Biodynamic Calendar
The cornerstone of Biodynamics is the Calendar! You can freely download a Biodynamic calendar amd start working with it right away. These calendars have been created by people who totally understand the processes and cycles of nature. They have correllated certain plants to certain planets, and that aids in knowing when to plant certain foods. The moon is the greatest influencer in timing, as she is the most dominant and close to us and has the most influence. The moon can also be looked at as a kind of crystal amplifier, and so whatever planet in the solar system is closest, will have its own properties amplified and beamed down to earth through the lens of the moon. What Rudolf Steiner discovered is that plants respond very clearly and measurably to these cosmic influences, and so when you work in harmony with these natural energies we can use them to really maximise our productivity and reduce pests and problems.
Whilst the Biodynamic Calendar is quite specific, there are also some general themes that are very good to know about, and ones that you can easily employ. In ancient times when man had not quite got round to inventing the wristwatch, the most reliable source of telling the time was the sun, moon, and stars. Planting was not the most important time for the farmer, harvest time also had to be recorded. If you harvest at the correct time your crops will last much longer. It is down to how the plant stores the water in the fruit/crop at different times of the Luna cycle. There are three methods for planting by the moon. I am going to focus on the Synodic method for planting and harvesting.
It is important, however, to realize that the planting calendar should never be the most important factor to consider when sowing, cultivating, or doing other agricultural work. In daily practice, the weather, soil conditions, lateness of season, and so on, must often override considerations of a cosmic nature.
Synodic (waxing and waning) cycle
This is a simple form of Moon planting which divides the Luna cycle into four phases or quarters. This cycle takes 29.6 days to complete. It then groups plants into categories, Root Crops, Foliage, Crops with seeds on the outside, and crops with seeds on the inside. Then it assigns plants to the phases of the moon which best suits there growing characteristics.
There are two main phases of the moon, the ascending moon (when the moon is getting bigger each day) and the descending moon (when the moon is getting smaller each day). There are also a few key days which are Full Moon, New Moon, and the day when the moon opposes Saturn. All of these phases and days are clearly marked on the biodynamic calendar so you can follow it quite easily. The activities that we do in each of these phases is very specific, and your main activities on each day will largely depend on whether the moon is ascending or descending. The details of this are as follows:
Activities Connected with Ascending Moon
1. Sow all seeds. Cultivate on the appropriate constellation day before sowing.
2. Spray with BD preparation 501 at early stages of growth when the plant is recognisable, on the appropriate constellation day as above.
3. Harvest the following on an Air/Light constellation day = Aquarius or Gemini
- Fruit and Vegetables (not roots)
- Plants for making medicines
- Flowers and plants for biodynamic preparation making
- Fodder for animals
- Field crops, such as silage and hay
Activities Connected with Descending Moon1. Spray BD preparation 500 in the afternoon - the soil should be warm.
2. Make and spread compost
3. Transplant seedlings and trees
4. Make and plant cuttings
5. Cultivate soil
6. Harvest root crops for storage on an Earth constellation day = Virgo/Kanya
7. Prune all fruit trees in the appropriate season on a Fire/Warmth constellation day = Leo/Simha or Sagittarius/Dhanush
8. Prune flowering trees and shrubs and roses at appropriate season on an Air/Light constellation day = Gemini/Mithuna or Libra/Tula
Activities Connected with the Full Moon
1. Sow seeds at times of low humidity and warmth (48 hours before Full Moon)
2. Apply liquid manures, including CPP (48 hrs before Full Moon)
3. Fungus control - Spray with BD preparation 508 horsetail 'tea' D5 potency, or Sodium silicate 0.5%
4. Insect control - Watch out for chewing and sucking insects: use a garlic/ginger/chilli pepper spray, Natural pyrethrum, Neem oil, or Stinging Nettle together with 5% Cow urine
5. Watch out for slugs and snails. Surround plant with diatomaceous earth.
6. Drench animals for internal parasites, on an empty stomach with, for example, garlic and cider vinegar. (48 hours before Full Moon).
Acitivities Connected with the New Moon
1. Avoid sowing seeds
2. Fell timber
3. Traditional Indian agriculture recognised the day before New Moon as No Moon day, a day on which no agricultural work is done.
Activities Connected with Moon Opposite Saturn
1. Sead sowing and Transplanting
2. Spray with BD preparation 501 in the very early morning on the day of or the day before the opposition to strengthen plants against fungus.
3. Spraying BD 501 at this time improves the keeping quality and the taste of all fruits and vegetables.
There is a special day called a Node day. On this day you should do no work whatsoever in the garden! This is beacause the moon, while crossing in front of the Sun, will negate the Sun's beneficient influence for this brief period. There is a node day around every 2 weeks and these are also marked on the Biodynamic Calendar.
Here is a simple to use calendar, that simply shows you what you should and shouldn't do each day. You can indicate your timezone and it will spoon feed you the right information. Great for beginners!
You can see the raw calendar here with much more information for 2017 here:
Note that the timings shown are for Indian Standard Time and need to be adjusted to your timezone.
I hope you have discovered something new here, and if you are a gardener I really hope you try some of this out. There is much more to say about Biodynamic Gardening and so if I get a few of your showing your interest to learn more, I will post again with more details and links.
If you would like to watch a fantastic movie on this please check this out!