Biodynamics Basics

grasp nettleThe first book I read (from start to end) about biodynamics was New Zealander Peter Proctor’s “Grasp the Nettle”. The title makes it sound a painful experience, but it wasn’t and it inspired me to put down the slim volume of Steiner’s Agriculture Lectures (started many times) and just give it a go, rather than trying to intellectualise it all. I was trained in Agricultural Science, so this was a bit harder than it sounds! Anyway, thanks to Peter, I’m still giving it a go, still trying not to intellectualise and trying to observe and learn and intuit. Maybe that’s what Steiner intended, when he presented such a simple, yet complex, and at times unfathomable treatise!

To start with the basics, biodynamics takes the view is that the farm or garden is a living organism; the mineral, plant and animal aspects are closely linked and worked with as a whole. In ‘modern terms’ it’s a systems approach, probably called ‘peasantry’ in much earlier times, and just ‘living’ well before that. Garden activity occurs in tune with both earthly and cosmic forces.

The movement of the moon, sun, stars and planets guide the gardener. This is made easier by Brian Keats, who produces the Biodynamic planting calendar each year, and can be as simple as planting at Moon opposite Saturn, or as detailed as it gets.

The biodynamic preparations are herb, animal and mineral based, carefully and systematically produced, and then used in minute quantities (similar to homeopathic doses) to enliven the soil life (inc. microbes, bacteria, fungi, etc) and function. Nutritious food starts with the soil. Preparations are based on the two field sprays – Horn Manure (BD500) and Horn Silica (BD501) – and the compost preparations (BD 502 – 508) using the key herbs – yarrow, chamomile, stinging nettle, oak, dandelion, valerian and horsetail.
BD calendar for July 2
The preps are applied to soil and plants in s specific way. For example BD 500 and BD501 are added to warmed rainwater and stirred for an hour, ensuring that the water constantly undergoes movement from order (the vortex) to chaos (breaking the vortex) in a dynamic process. It’s similar to the way water moves in nature through a rapid or stream, or the way weather patterns form. The mixture is then broadcast, in large droplets, onto the soil, in the case of BD500. This is done in the afternoon, on a day when the moon is descending and waning, and in an earth or water sign. Horn Silica (BD501) is an atmospheric spray and applied in a fine mist in the early morning when the moon is ascending and waxing (see garden notes for more info). The compost preps are used in making compost (ha!) and can also be used in dilute compost teas.

Biodynamics demands observation and action – of the soil, plants, garden, seasons, moon, stars, sun, cosmos.

Alongside this we use the usual organic principles of crop rotation, composting, focus on soil health and soil building. You could say it is an enhanced method of organic growing. But organics doesnt neccessarily use the planets to guide planting, nor the wider realms of the ‘elementals’.

This is the point where you go and try … and find more info … see the links on the home page and do your own researching.

Go Home

Go to the Garden Notes  and see this page about crop types and the calendar.

Read about BD compost makinghere and here

Search a post: look under categories, or tags, or just enter the term into the search box, eg. lunar gardening, BD500, peppering, BD compost, or view the links.


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