How does the Biodynamic calendar work?
Each month the moon moves through all twelve constellations of the zodiac in turn. This is referred to as the moon’s sidereal cycle and forms the basis of the Biodynamic calendar. Although the synodic (waxing and waning) cycle is the most well known lunar rhythm, it only plays a small part in this calendar.
Since ancient times, the twelve zodiac constellations have been associated with each of the four elements.
Three constellations are connected to each element and each element is related to a part of the plant: earth=root; water=leaf; air=flower; fire=fruit. For good carrots, an earth (root) day should be chosen; for lettuce, a water (leaf) day; beans and apples—a fire (fruit) day, etc.
The influences have most effect when the soil is moved and when the Biodynamic preparations have been used. Choosing suitable times for cultivation (hoeing, digging, harrowing, etc.) as well as for sowing and harvesting, is also important.
What are the Preparations?
The Biodynamic Preparations form a unique and integral part of the Biodynamic approach to farming and gardening. Their use helps to increase soil vitality, regulate imbalances, improve plant health and bring the garden or farm into harmony with its surroundings.
The Compost Preparations are made from six well-known medicinal plants—yarrow, chamomile, stinging nettle, oak, dandelion and valerian. Their specific properties are enhanced and made effective for soil life during the course of a unique fermentation process in the soil.
To make them effective, some of the herbs require a sheath made of certain animal organ materials. These serve as catalysts for bringing about the required process.
When ready, these humus-like substances are added to the composting material in minute amounts, where they radiate their effects throughout the heap. These preparations help to guide and regulate the decomposing and humus-forming processes in the soil and make plant nutrient substances (sulphur, potassium, nitrogen, calcium, silica, phosphorous) available in precisely the form needed for healthy plant growth.
The Spray Preparations, or field sprays, are made from cow manure and quartz meal and are known respectively as ‘Horn Manure’ and ‘Horn Silica’. Horn Manure is cow manure that has been fermented in the soil over winter inside a cow horn. Horn Silica is finely ground quartz meal that spends the summer in the soil inside a cow horn.
Before being applied, very small amounts of these prepared substances are dissolved in water and stirred rigorously for one whole hour. This is done by stirring (preferably by hand) in one direction, in such a way that a deep crater is formed in the stirring vessel (bucket, barrel). Then the direction is changed, the water seethes and slowly a new crater is formed. Each time a well-formed crater is achieved the direction is changed until the full hour is completed. In this way the dynamic effects concentrated in the prepared manure and quartz meal are released into the rhythmically-moved water and become effective for soil and plant. It is then sprayed out on the crops and fields immediately.
Why are animal organs used?
The animal organs are chosen for the unique properties they possess as a result of their former function within the animal and serve as catalysts for bringing about the desired fermentation. For example, chamomile flowers are used medicinally to treat disturbances of the digestive tract. When making this particular compost preparation [the chamomile preparation] a section of bovine intestine is used as a catalyst in the fermentation.
The need for such animal organ material, whether for making compost preparations or horn-based field sprays, may be understood by considering that fertile soil is not made up simply of mineral substances. It is alive and filled with animal life. Soil has been created through an active interweaving of mineral, plant and animal processes.
With thanks to the Biodynamic Agricultural Association
Available now from Kindred, How to Save The World tells the story of the rapid spread of Biodynamic farming and the resulting restoration of communities in India through the teachings of a visionary New Zealander many are calling the new Gandhi. Available from Kindred’s office or buy online in the Kindred Shop.
Published in Kindred issue 23, Sept 07