Sunday, May 14, 2023

Biodynamics on the Homestead.


You may be unfamiliar with this term or the reason why I found it intriguing enough to take the plunge. It is a slightly long and convoluted path that I have had through the years of investigating different holistic and intuitive gardening practices from around the globe. At its core its a philosophy of growing that was developed by Rudolph Steiner in the 1920's when he was coaxed by a group of concerned farmers who saw the future of farming being on the path of disconnecting from the land and from the natural cycles of nature. Steiner responded by offering a series of lectures evolving around ecological and sustainable approaches to farming and later these lectures where compiled into a book that is simply called Agriculture.

The basic concepts behind this book became the foundations of Biodynamics. The ideals of biodynamics revolves around a basic principle that we personally have always felt important here at the homestead, that principle ideal is treating the entire homestead/farm as a whole organism. Closing the loop of outside inputs and looking at the ecosystem in which your space inhabits as a symbiotic relationship. Similar to my previous posts about the importance of creating our own compost on the homestead and working with the indigenous mycorrhiza and microbial systems that we inhabit and coexist with. Along with supporting these natural systems there is also a more spiritual space that is given within the biodynamic process that incorporates a calendar of suggested windows for optimal times to sow seeds, weed and harvest the best tasting and best storing produce possible. These suggested calendar dates are all aligned with positions of  the moon and the planets. Some call this thinking witchcraft and woo woo, and to an extent I engage in these practices with great optimism and a good dose of skepticism as well. Though as I have followed some of the suggested calendar timing in past seasons I decided this year with the final beds situated, that it was a good time to give some of the amendment practices a try. 

I mean if the power of the moon has such a undeniable major influence on the oceans, why would we think that similar changes are not happening in our mineral dense soils and plant life as well as all flora and fauna on this planet. 

Anyhow, again I am not an expert but simply a curious gardener who decided this season it was time to start working with some of the basic concepts and principles behind biodynamics as well as beginning to dabble more in creating our own plant amendments and extracts. More on those in future posts but for now I'll get to explaining the beginning steps in our biodynamic journey here at the LocalRootz Homestead!

We first did some research on where to source our preparations, luckily we found a farm who has been involved in biodynamics for nearly 2 decades and offered a thorough explanation of the processes and was as close to home as we could find. Biodynamic Solutions  out of Peterborough, NH seemed like a great choice. In fact the southern New Hampshire area around Mount Monadnock is quite the hot bed for biodynamic resources and there is a rich history to the practices and information being shared in that region so I felt pretty confident that I would be getting as much of the woo woo as we could from their preparation kit!

The foundations of all biodynamic preparations starts with the BD 500 simply called the horn manure. It's a microbe rich package of manure that has been stuffed into a cows horn in the autumn and buried over the winter. In the spring the horn is dug up and the prep is ready for applying. More on that in a minute. Along with the BD 500 is the Compound preparation which is also added to the spring application spray and I also added a sprinkle into our seed starting soil to kickstart the microbes to better synthesize the transition from cellar (where we start our seedlings) to garden! 

Along with those preparation, the starter kit also includes these preparations that all have their own unique steps to prepare.

BD 501 Silica 
(not pictured as its sitting in the sunny window waiting for summer to disperse)
BD502 Yarrow
BD503 Chamomile
BD504 Stinging Nettles
BD505 Oak Bark
BD506 Dandelion
BD507 Valerian
BD508 Horsetail

Each preparation has its own steps to apply, I will not go into each one in depth but will finish this post with some great resources to check if you are so intrigued! 

The first treatment of the season besides the small amount added to our seed starting mix is preparing the BD500 for application. It starts with a 5 gallon bucket for the size of our homestead. I'd prefer to use ceramic or wood but for a 5 gallon size all we had on hand was this plastic bucket. However it has been housing our hardwood charcoal for a year and I also have used it to ferment some compost tea the last few seasons so its well purified of its gases and has better vibes than a orange home depot bucket... its all about aesthetics, but needless to say a few more used wooden barrels are on the "wants" list for applications like this and more! Anyhow back to the BD500 prep. We filled the bucket with a mixture of rainwater and some of our well water. From there you add the entire packet of BD500 (Horn Manure) then you stir and stir and stir. 

Stirring helps oxygenate all those beneficial microbes and gets them kickstarted before applying. It takes a full hour of constant stirring, at times I felt like my arm was gonna fall off and then I sunk into a rhythm about 15 minutes into it as I absorbed a wonderful podcast about caring for an orchard holistically by the late great Michael Phillips. 

After 40 minutes, it was time to add the compound preparation to the mix for the final
20 minutes of stirring. The best method is to vigorously stir the prep until a vortex forms as deep as possible and when the vortex is achieved you reverse direction to create a cross currant resulting in a bubbling oxygenated prep!

After the hour was complete I checked the solution with a glass jar for color and sediment. 
I then loaded up our pump sprayer with part of the solution that I used to spray our new fruit tree additions as well as a few other special spots I wanted to make sure got ample coverage with the fine spray. 

After that I took to the classic method of making a aspergillum out of white pine boughs.

From there I proceeded to disperse the remaining preparation across the homestead with this traditional method. Like a priest with their holy water... I blessed the landscape with good intentions and meditated upon the beauty of the land and the partnership we as a family have engaged in here at the homestead! 

As we move forward I will talk more about amendments that we have been using and making in the garden. I have been starting to create some Cider Vinegar extractions as well as various plant juices and foliar sprays. Interested in learning more about biodynamics? 

Check Out These Great Resources:




Thanks for stopping by as always and in closing I will leave you with a new piece I got underway in the Rootcellar Studio... maybe I'll have it finished for our next post as all our homestead projects have been happening faster than I can find time to type about... mushrooms and fruit trees as well as seeds being planted, trellises made and compost always churning!

Bee Well! 

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