There’s nothing new about biodynamic® growing – it’s been around for centuries – but the use of the term biodynamic® and the way we understand the whole system is just less than a century old. Biodynamic® agriculture is a holistic method of growing, taking organic standards one step further, and treating the plot as a complete ecosystem. Whether or not you feel comfortable with using the cycles of sun, moon and stars to guide planting and harvesting, it’s really just another way to express ideas our ancestors had thousands of years ago.
Weleda founder Dr Rudolf Steiner created the first biodynamic® gardens in the 1920s to grow ingredients for anthroposophic remedies. Almost a century later, key principles have changed very little. Farmers from different countries have adapted the technique to their soil and climate, and the farmer’s personality, the crop and the physical location all make a difference. In growing circles, biodynamic® is now very much a buzzword. From the champion vegetable grower to the forward-thinking wine producer, all who use the system testify it produces excellent results and a happy, thriving plot of land.
If you’d like to take the first steps, don’t be daunted by the task. The cosmic cycles, like the compost, are surprisingly easy to apply in your own back yard. With a little biodynamic® know-how you can create a mini eco-system to provide wholesome veg, fragrant herbs and bright, beautiful flowers for years to come.
The essentials are easy enough to work out – good soil, plenty of sunlight and enough (but not too much) water. Most of us don’t have livestock to provide natural fertilizer, but a compost pile is easy enough to start, and compost will help put life into the soil. Biodiversity is another essential – in your garden, that simply means variety. If you cultivate a good selection of vegetables, herbs and flowers, and make an inviting home for helpful insects, your garden will thrive. Luckily untidiness is a great benefit for biodynamic gardens – heaps of wood, dead leaves and even the compost heap itself will soon attract the minibeasts that chomp through decaying matter, and with these in will come the frogs, beetles and birds which so much enjoy disposing of aphids, slugs and snails.
Biodynamic gardening doesn’t take more work, but it does ask you to be ready to learn. Luckily nature had a great idea when she invented winter – a slow season in the garden, with plenty of time for reading, planning and reflecting on the year to come. If you’ve been using pesticides and fertilisers, you may find yields dip a bit in your first couple of years – that’s just the soil rebuilding natural vitality before the yield – and the quality – of the crop improves again. Your reborn biodynamic® garden will soon give you crops which taste better, are more nutritious and are better for the planet, and isn’t that an appetising thought?