Underneath your feet, in your gardens and out in the countryside, the soil is at its most alive! This may surprise you as we often think soil is most alive during summertime, but from a biodynamic perspective, the soil is now recharging and energising itself, ready to fuel strong plant growth in the spring. For this reason, we try to avoid turning the soil between 15th January and 15th February.
Instead we turn our attention to tree pruning which, this winter we’ve done a lot of as our Al (one of our permanent gardeners) has now got his chainsaw license! What a difference this has made to how much we can do ourselves and to rejuvenating areas of the field which has been left to grow very wild over the years.
We have many thuja trees (Thuja occidentalis) which we harvest for homeopathic medicine that have needed thinning out. This allows light and air to move around them, keeping them strong and healthy plants to harvest. We are going to use the trunks of these thuja trees to create a rustic barrier for our plantation of poison ivy (Rhus toxicodendron). As we get more visitors coming to see what we do, it’s important to keep people at a safe distance from this plant as it can cause some unpleasant skin reactions!
We have a long list of winter jobs to get through before spring comes. It is a time for clearing out the old to make room for the new. It is a time for infrastructure; to plan and develop ideas and changes, to sort our own seeds collected in the autumn and to order what more we need.
On January 6th, we applied a very special biodynamic preparation called the Three Kings spray. It is our way of saying “thank you” and giving something back to the land that helps produce our anthroposophic remedies and homeopathic medicines. The preparations contain Gold (symbol for earthly wisdom), Frankincense (an offering to the Gods) and Myrrh (the symbol for the victory of life over death), which is then given back to land as thanks. We use a pestle and mortar to mix the resins and powdered gold into a sticky, beautiful smelling mixture. We add this to a large amount of water, stir rhythmically for an hour and spray it onto the boundaries of our land. This is a very communal event with readings, singing and music to spread good cheer to our land.