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biodynamic gardening  RSS feed

 
rachael hamblin
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Has anyone here heard much about/tried biodynamic gardening?  I went to part of a workshop on it today and was pretty turned off by the whole burying cow horns based on astrology thing....but there must be more to it than that.  What is there in biodynamic gardening that is useful to people who don't believe in their understanding of how energetic forces work in food?  And is vegan?
 
                    
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Sounds like you were turned off by the "cosmological" part of the course you took. "Cosmological" can mean different things to different people - for example, the fact that you are still interested in this form of sustainable organic practice after being "turned off" indicates that biodynamics are important to you as a biodynamic being in the world. Maybe you just didn't get the right class for you the first time around. Try to find another course that better represents your idea of "cosmic" - one that involves veganism. Also, consider that the Hindu religion venerates cows and also incorporates veganism into its practices so burying cow horns is not necessarily against vegan practices. Consider it a way to recycle parts of cattle butchered by the practice of others in honor of the realtionships in various earth biodynamics - which cattle are part of in three stages (alive and feeding themselves, butchered for food to feed otehrs and as carcasses to feed the earth). Earth biodynamics involve all living beings and all dying beings and also all dead beings  which I add here to maybe help reconcile you to something that made something you are interested in exploring seem negative. Just try to find a program that better reflects your personal interests in religion and life and you will probably find something you like. Good luck.

Here are some websites with a lmore neutral natural approaches to check out.

"Biodynamics (literally: life forces) is an agricultural method developed from indications given by Rudolf Steiner in a series of 1924 lectures. The Agriculture Lectures were his response to concerns of farmers and veterinarians about the deteriorating health and vitality of their crops and animals. Rudolf Steiner laid the foundation for a new way of thinking about the relationship of the earth and the formative forces of nature. The practical methods he outlined were intended, above all, to revitalize natural forces which are depleted by modern agricultural practices. Thus, Biodynamics became the first organized organic approach to farming.

The underlying picture of a Biodynamic farm is that of a self-sufficient organism. Although impossible to fully attain, it is the goal of the Biodynamic farm to provide for all of it's own needs. Any external input brought onto the farm is considered medicine for a sick organism. At the heart of the Biodynamic method is the use of compost made with homeopathically applied herbal preparations and the use of mineral- and manure-based spray preparations for the land and plant life. The Biodynamic practitioner enlivens the farm by applying the Biodynamic compost and spray preparations in cooperation with the natural rhythms of the earth and of the cosmos.

As a practice, Biodynamics heals and balances the land, the individuals that work it, and the community it supports. As a philosophy, rooted in Anthroposophy, Biodynamics offers a spiritual path that moves the practitioner beyond physical labor into a deeper, more intimate connection with themselves, the earth and the cosmos."- Biodynamic Gardening

Rudolf Steiner College
Pfeiffer Center
 
Kelda Miller
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my take on biodynamics is that the mixes are like homeopathic (super dilute and effective) doses for the land. they're sprinkled on bare soil or put in compost, etc, according to their purpose. and the ingredients incline me to believe their full of good bacteria and fungi.

as far as the cow-horn, i'd like to see more bioregionally appropriate experiments. for all we know there's something about the horn, and the shape, and the direction it's placed that adds something currently-unquantifiable to the mixtures. my personal feeling though is that the cow isn't appropriate here, just a hunch.

and the astrology bit, it's good. it's Not astrology that's in the newspaper, that system is off by almost 2,000 years, and doesn't work with what's in the sky. it's the astrology where you look in the sky and the moon is actually in the constellation it says on paper. so i think of it more as astronomy-astrology and will just get the biodynamic calendars to know what is happening in the sky. then i put my work notes down just as a bonus to see if anything really does work out for me.

http://www.stellanatura.com/

another personal hunch is that the phase of the moon is more important than the constellation its' in, although i think that may definitely play a role. being a woman it's impossible to not notice how closely everything is tied with the phase of the moon!!!
 
                    
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Following is from The London Independent's Country and Garden: Heaven Help Us by Duff Hart-Davis

AS AN organically minded gardener and vegetarian, I'm open-minded on most things alternative. But my eyebrows rose recently when a conversation turned to gardening in harmony with the heavens, tilling the soil to open it up to cosmic forces, planting according to the position of the moon, the stars and the planets, and burying manure in a cow's horn to draw in the earth's strength.

Yet far from being greeted with incredulity, heavenly horticulture is gaining a sizeable following in this country.

This is biodynamic gardening, a philosophy which claims to predate the organic movement by some 20 years. In the UK there are now 60 farms and gardens registered with Demeter, the biodynamic certification authority. Two years ago there were 40. Karen Elliot is one of them. She gardens biodynamically on the quarter-acre plot surrounding her house in Forest Row, East Sussex, which she shares with her husband Roland, three children and two chickens. It is a productive garden, providing a continual supply of fruit and vegetables

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"This is not muck and magic," says Karen. "It is the next step on from organic gardening, and ties in with man's relationship with nature and the universe. In conventional gardening you try to kill everything that moves and gardens can be pretty dead. But that is not necessary with biodynamic gardening. When we moved in here the garden was just grass, no insects or birds, now it is alive and flourishing. You have to think of your garden as a whole entity. It makes so much sense that now I would not garden any other way."

The biodynamic approach says that plant life benefits from a soil that is alive with cosmic forces, vigorous micro organisms and is well nourished with compost. Biodynamic gardens mean beautiful, longer-lasting plants and vibrant vegetables with good storage qualities and fantastic flavour, say enthusiasts.

The biodynamic philosophy also states that as the light of the sun, moon, planets and stars reach the plants in a regular rhythm then, within that cycle, there are ideal times to sow, nurture and reap.

For purposes of biodynamic gardening, the zodiac constellations are grouped into flower days, leaf days, root days and fruit/seed days. And you sow and tend according to the part of the plant you want to be stimulated. For example, carrots (root vegetables) sown and hoed when the moon is in Taurus (root days) will have a good shape, yield and taste; but sow and hoe when the moon is in Cancer (leaf days) and the crop will be puny. The time of day is important too. Harvest lettuce (above-ground vegetables) in the early part of the day when plant-forces and sap-flow stream up, and onions (below- ground vegetables) in the afternoon and evening when forces and sap stream down.

To help with the gardening routine, the Biodynamic Sowing and Planting Calendar shows favourable and unfavourable days for garden duties. It is published each year and drawn up by Maria Thun, a biodynamic expert living in Germany, who has spent 48 years involved in research and trials. But Biodynamic growing does not have to be large scale. "You can garden a window box biodynamically," says Jimmy Anderson, one of the first inspectors for the Biodynamic Agricultural Association. "The aim is quality not quantity. If the conditions are right, the flavour, colour and aroma will be excellent."

According to Anderson, the cosmic effect on plants is quite discernible. But he admits that there is a certain amount of cynicism, especially when newcomers learn that manuring efficacy comes with burying dung in a cow horn in winter, and an enlivening plant spray is produced by burying quartz in a cow horn during the summer. "People identify this with magic," he says. "But the horn is used as a container - nothing else has been found to have the same effect."

For details of biodynamic farming and gardening groups and the planting calendar, contact The Bio-Dynamic Agricultural Assoc, The Painswick Inn Project, Stroud, Glos GL5 1QG (01453 759501) www.anth.org. uk/biodynamic. `Gardening for Life the Biodynamic Way' by Maria Thun is published by Hawthorn Press, pounds 14.99 The illustration is taken from `Kitchen Gardens of France' by Louisa Jones (T & H, pounds 18.95)

 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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wouldn't the biodynamic cow horn thing be just another take on bonemeal from the organic side of the garden realm?? Obviously if you come back into the permaculture realm, it is just the ground taking in the dead..

I don't do animals here but we do have wildlife, and get a good number of dead animals..and their entire bodies that haven't been eaten by scavengers or predators get buried into the gardens..thus burying the bones..

nothing at all unnatural or non vegan about that.

I find some of these new studies (new to me) fantasitc..I remember in my 60's hippy days a lot of teaching on this order,I just never delved too deeply then.
 
Paulo Bessa
pollinator
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Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
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Rachel, I do permaculture and I use biodynamics as well (but not to its full extent). I also do not want to use cow horns, as I am just fine to a system of vegan permaculture or only including chicken at most (because I eat mostly vegetarian).

I am also an amateur astronomer but also studying astrology. I have a PhD in science, I already was into ecological research and I am interested in learning and testing some of biodynamics. Is there a problem with this whole mental mess of contradictions? To me, no. I am a free thinker, not bounded by science or mysticism. I like to have my hands dirty of planting seedlings as I enjoy meditating in plant growth, as I enjot understanding the science behind the nutrients and plant ecology.

I think people nowadays I too much bounded and attached to their ideologies. They don't see that there is more.
 
James Colbert
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Brenda, I was able to participate in a local biodynamic group last week and was able to discuss some of the theory behind the preparations (manure in a cow horn). The idea is not to apply it like a fertilizer but as a stimulator. Different preps breed different bacteria and fungi that are good at accumulating certain nutrients. You then spread a small amount (literally drops) around your land to inoculate your land with microorganisms that are good at, for example, accumulating and processing calcium into a bio-available form. Some preps are good for increasing the production of humus and the people whose land we were on had the deepest, richest, moistest soil I have ever seen.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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yeah I just finished that book Secrets of the Soil and there was a better explaination in there so I understand it more now
 
James Colbert
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I'll have to check out that book for myself.
 
Alicia Gauld
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Hi. Great discussion! My thoughts concerning 'cosmic' is we get stuck with that word & up come the defenses...'Cosmic' to me is the opposite of 'terrestrial', so anything not earth-based. It is obvious (& high school science) to see the process of photosynthesis as an amalgamation of 'cosmic' (sunlight) & 'terrestrial' (soil). A simple idea that BD (Steiner took) takes further...
 
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