(“The Artist’s Garden” Pissaro, 1898)
I suspect, there are reasons why gardening is such a special activity beyond the mere satisfaction of hunger: a connection to beauty, to spirit, the earth and self that is hard to come by otherwise. Its very visceral, very intimate – and a kind of unspoken, but universal language.
Three-Part Harmony: Spirit. Ethics. Ecology.
There are probably as many approaches to gardening as there are people on the planet. It is an individual and personal matter – the vast majority of the time. Naturally, professional gardeners who grow larger amounts of plants, have their systems, insights, methods – which can often be transferred to other places or smaller operations. Yet, smaller, more intimate gardening often yields the most sensitive insights – if for no other reason, as one has more time to observe. Scale is an issue. Biodynamics can be carried out on any scale, however. Its a matter of adjusting and knowing what one really wants to accomplish.
In anthroposophical agriculture the focus is on not just the ecological and physical quality of the products, but indeed also and just as much on the spiritual essence and influence of both food and not food products and on the ethical socio-economic conditions under which they were produced. This three-part harmony is by no means easy to achieve in our time – yet truly an anthroposophical / biodynamic ideal.
(Planting in spring 2014)
Horticultural Techniques, Timing and Plant Specific Conditions.
In terms of professional approaches, its been my experience that a good combination of very solid horticultural techniques appropriate to place, soils and geology and climate is the beginning of all fully aware gardening. Each of us can get to know these things in our residence with some basic study and especially talking with experienced gardeners in our area and developing a keen observation over time.
Timing is both an issue of knowing the place, soils and climate, but also of listening to and looking at the cosmic influences, such as the changing seasons due to the passage of the sun through the year, the monthly ebb and flow of full and new moon influences and other details. On this issue, please have a look at the “cosmos” page on this website.
Finally, every plant or plant family has their own “way” how they like to grow. We can learn this from our parents, neighbours, teachers and from books, but mostly from simply doing. Endless trial and error is the truly best and quickest teacher.
Biodynamics must begin with solid techniques, good timing and appropriate conditions. These are the foundational basics on which we grow our approach, which is NOT a replacement for good, common sense gardening and farming techniques, but a kind of renewal of the framework, expansion of the concepts and extension of the methods to include an understanding of the spiritual dimensions.
In my courses we explore biodynamics as anthroposophical agriculture with the fullest respect for the centuries of acquired vocational knowledge and know-how, indeed we built upon it. Our approach is far from purely theoretical, as we practice what we preach, trying out both traditional and new techniques and applying the biodynamic teas, preps, sprays, composts in addition to the solid, technical, ecological methods we have learned – and with a keen openness to learning new things, day by day.
(We did a lot of container gardening this year to again see what its like, for those with little land or needing to do balcony gardening!!) Please click on the pictures for enlargements!
(We had all kinds of herbs, flowers, tea, even fruit like these peaches, growing in containers!)
(Potatoes from A to Z, from container to the dinner table!)
(Butternut squash in late fall)
“The flower which is single need not envy the thorns that are numerous.” (Rabindranath Tagore)