What is the difference between organic and biodynamic?There are lots of similarities between organics and biodynamics such as growing healthy nutritious vegetables and herbs, not using synthetic fertilizers and sprays, encouraging beneficial wildlife into the garden, supporting biodiversity and taking good care of the soil.
However, biodynamics also offers a more holistic approach and takes account of the wider context of the plant, garden or farm. Biodynamic growers tune into nature’s rhythms and natural systems, which in turn cultivates a deeper personal connection with nature.
The Weleda gardens have been certified to Demeter standards for over 35 years, which means that we comply with the most rigorous standards on the worldwide organic crop-growing scene. Fundamental to biodynamics are the ‘BD’ preparations which act as catalysts for the co-creation of healthy living soil, compost and plants. We also aim to create a self-sufficient garden by making our own plant-based compost, saving our own seeds and ensuring we encourage as many different habitats as possible (ie ponds, meadows, woodland edges) to create a truly biodiverse environment.
What makes biodynamics so special?Biodynamic gardening comes out of the ideas of the philosopher Rudolf Steiner and has ecological, ethical, social and spiritual roots. Steiner’s philosophy (called Anthroposophy) suggests that the human being is fundamentally a spiritual being, intimately connected to the earth and cosmos. So biodynamic gardening rather uniquely offers a practical but also spiritual approach to growing.
As Steiner said, “There’s no matter without spirit and no spirit without matter.”
Can I garden biodynamically at home?Yes, you can! Once you’ve got a few basic methods under your belt its very easy to apply biodynamic principles to your home garden or allotment. There’s even an online Biodynamic Gardening Club where you’ll get lots of advice, tips and hints. Find out more here:
Biodynamic Gardening Club
This year Weleda are hosting two ‘Introduction to Biodynamic gardening’ workshops that are open to the general public. You can find out more here: Intro to Biodynamic Gardening
An Introduction to Biodynamic Gardening - five short videos
You can also find out more about biodynamics on the UK’s Biodynamic Association website:
Why and how do you plant with the moon?One of the ways we can quite easily tune into natures wider rhythms is by using a planting calendar. These show the optimum days for seed sowing, planting and harvesting to ensure maximum quality and vitality. The easiest rhythm to work with is the moon. By sowing our seeds a few days before the full moon, we can ensure good strong germination, and by planting during the two weeks of ‘descending moon’ we can encourage strong root development and healthy growth.
There’s often a misunderstanding that we can only plant ‘in tune with the moon’ at night-time… but the moon and stars are always there, whether we can see them or not!
What is meant by ‘a sense of place’?Have you ever noticed how different landscapes or gardens can have a different ‘feel’ or atmosphere? This is what we mean by the ‘sense of a place’ and it’s this that creates the individuality of a garden. Its also this ‘spirit of place’ that gardeners tune into, creating that special bond between gardener and garden.
Why is biodiversity so important to Weleda?The more life that there is in a garden the healthier that garden will be, and the healthier the crops from that garden will be. We’ve increased the biodiversity (diversity of life) in our garden by providing lots of various habitats and food sources which have attracted in lots of different animals and insects. We have ponds, wildflower meadows, woodland edges, hedgerows, fields and organized crop beds. We don’t use any insecticides or fungicides and rely on nature to help us with maintaining a healthy balanced ecosystem.
In your own gardens you can build a pond, put up bird and bat boxes, create log piles, grow native flowers, let some of the grass grow longer, create a flowering lawn, avoid using insecticides and fungicides, avoid over tidying and leave stems and seed heads overwinter which will provide food and shelter for birds and insects. You will soon notice a big difference in the amount of biodiversity in your precious patch.
What’s so special about soil?Soil is alive! A healthy life-filled soil is essential for a healthy life-filled garden. Soil science is one of the new frontiers and scientists are continually discovering more and more different soil organisms that contribute to this intricate web of life (the soil biome). It’s very important that we ensure these soil organisms are well fed, and good quality homemade compost is one of the best sources of food that we can provide for the soil organisms.
Another part of this intricate soil biome are the masses of fungal ‘roots’ called mychorriza which create the communication links and pathways between plants and soil.
It’s now widely accepted that both our physical and mental wellbeing is intimately linked with the healthy functioning of our stomach biome and it’s the same picture for the plants that grow in the soil. The soil biome is in effect the plant’s stomach.
What’s so special about biodynamic compost?Creating fertility on the farm or garden is a fundamental aspect of biodynamics. In gardening this means making homemade compost from our garden ‘waste’, nettles and comfrey, green manures, grass cuttings etc. We can only get good quality, fertility building compost if we put some good quality ingredients into our heap in the first place, so at Weleda we’re always very focused when it’s compost heap building time!
Biodynamic compost is made with the addition of six special preparations made from native herbs that are put into the newly built compost heaps. These herbs guide the natural decomposition processes in the heap, guiding and supporting the natural breaking down and building up phases of the heap, helping to create the most stable and fertile compost possible.
A very wildlife friendly gardenOur garden is a special place. Not just to us, but to all our guests (human and animal) who visit or have made this garden their home. Thirty-five years of biodynamic practice has created a vibrant life-filled garden with a precious quality of peace and calm.
Nowadays we’re effectively growing our crops within a nature reserve and our custodianship mixes farming, gardening and conservation techniques in order to maintain a healthy balance between productivity and protection. We now have a huge variety of different species of butterflies, moths, insects, native bees and birds sharing our 13 acre haven.
We grow and harvest our cultivated crops in fields and beds but are also able to harvest from our own naturalized hedgerows, field edges and wildflower meadows. Some of our medicinal plants are happy to grow in straight rows with regular weeding, but some make better medicines by being left alone in quiet corners with just an occasional visit from the garden team to make sure the brambles don’t take over.
Our gardens aren’t open to the general public but there are several ways that you’re able to come and visit: