According to The Daily telegraph today there is an upsurge in interest in Biodynamic farming and gardening. Like most of the media the article concentrates on planting by the moon and ignores that rest of the quite complex system of plant and soil care of biodynamics.
The Telegraph article is more balanced than most and outlines how biodynamics is becoming more mainstream. The spoiler is the throw away sentence at the end of the piece about howling at the moon!
The key to all this is the holistic approach to producing food and to life in general. Organic gardening goes some way to reengaging with natural cycles and living more in tune with mother earth. Biodynamics takes it several stages further.
I have used a moon planting calendar for a few years. I do not always get it right because sometimes it is just not possible to sow seeds on the recommended days but when I do it seems to work. Take, for example, the winter lettuce sown in the pollytunnel on Wednesday 23 September which according to the planting calendar was a leaf day. I noticed yesterday that they had germinated, that is just 4 days and is the kind of vigour that means healthier plants.
Some will argue that there are so many factors involved it is impossible to isolate just what helps. While accepting that it does no harm to follow a biodynamic calendar especially if it produces strong, healthy and tasty plants.
Check out details of the Biodynamic Food Fortnight; on from 3 October to 8 October see www.biodynamic.org.uk
The trial has now produced the first harvests and the results are very good. The nine enormous lettuces (Webbs Wonderful) were lifted and replaced by cabbage. The 68 onions (Centurian) are drying and will be weighed when they go into store. Meanwhile there is a continuous harvest of runner beans and the carrots are ready to lift.
As the beds are cleared new crops will be planted to either over winter of provide some late season veg.
There is a streaming video of the first results below or you can watch a higher quality version by going direct to YouTube.
In September of last year I posted details of which over wintering lettuce would be planted, see post here. Things did not go to plan and the seeds were not sown in the solar pods until 30 October 2008 which was much too late. Of the original varieties planted, only Valdor, Winter Density and Erika germinated.
I did not bother much with them thinking that the cold winter would have killed them as they were just small seedlings. About a month ago it was a big surprise to see that three varieties had survived the winter and were growing.
The photograph below shows, from left to right, Valdor, Winter Density and Erika growing well. The Bergamo on the extreme right did not germinate. Poor germination was down to the late sowing and not the seed or variety. We are eating the thinnings and will sow much earlier this year!
(Click to enlarge)
Update 09 Apr 2009
The lettuce are all growing well and giving a fresh supply early in the season. I really must sow earlier this year so that they mature next February!