Post by Christopher Donovan
I first encountered biodynamics when I studied for a year at Sunbridge College (formerly The Rudolph Steiner Institute), in Chestnut Ridge, New York. My fellow students and I were studying to be Waldorf teachers, reading a lot of Steiner, and being exposed to all of the wacky things that Steiner-folks do -- like sculpture, eurythmy, and biodynamic gardening. Each week we students would trudge out to the garden, where -- under the watchful eye of a god-like man named Gunther -- we would be instructed in the metaphysics of soil enhancement and plant growth.
For in biodynamics, the metaphysics -- the larger than physical -- comes first. To try and explain biodynamics as a list of prescriptions or tenets is like describing an ocean as a compilation of water and salt, together with the animals that live in it. Technically true, but the poetry is gone, and so is the essence.
The essence of biodynamics is a holistic understanding of the plant as a being. Part of what allows biodynamics to succeed in producing such radically tasty and powerfully nutritious vegetables is its awareness of the influences of other forces in the cosmos: lunar forces, planetary influences, and tensions among these.
Which is why, to finally get to the point
indicated by this post's title, when it comes time to plant -- but especially when it comes time to sow -- we consult Maria Thun's biodynamic planting calendar.
This calendar saves us a lot of work, since it summarizes for each day -- and in one word -- the universal (planetary, lunar, etc.) attributes for the day, as they relate to planting. For those of you interested in a brief summary of this calendar for the year 2007, go here.
For instance, this past Wednesday was a "root day." (Next to December 5th, 2007, in the planting calendar, the word "root" appears.) Which means that, in a nutshell, root vegetables will benefit from being planted on that day. (The other ways of characterizing days are "fruit," "leaf," and "flower.")
So we knew we had to get those root vegetables in the ground, and we knew it would be best for them if it happened before the sun set on Wednesday. We planted three kinds of carrots (Thumbelina, White Satin, and Nelson), three kinds of beets (Chioggia, Detroit Red Top, and Golden), Hakurei Turnips, and a new type of long white radish from Italy. We planted them in the hoophouse, in a long bed that contains soil-heating cables (otherwise they wouldn't be able to germinate in our cold December weather). Cynthia will explain more about how to use soil-heating cables in an upcoming post.
That is a brief description of how we at Love Apple Farm allow biodynamics to guide and support us as we guide and support our vegetables -- and vice-versa.