Gardening with the Moon – The Preparations

The Preparations …

  • The Preps are the corner-stone of biodynamics. Using the eight preparations is what biodynamics is about. They’re what Steiner originally gave at the 1924 lectures at Count Keiserling’s home and without them you’re not doing biodynamics.
  • It’s actually getting the preps on the ground, on the plants and in the compost heap that does the magic.

When added to good organic practice, the preparations increase soil and plant health and vitality, enhance colour, form, fragrance and flavour as well as helping plants resist pests and diseases.

We use the preps in conjunction with the Star Calendar, although this came later. The Star Calendar gives us the Moon-times, the best times to actually use the preparations. Although you can apply the preps any time their effectiveness definitely goes up an order of magnitude if you use them at the appropriate time. In cahoots with the Moon.

When Steiner gave the lectures he said he had given “the letters of the alphabet” and now it was up to those who came after him to make words, sentences, paragraphs, whole books even, out of the basic alphabet he had given. Maria Thun did just this, took Steiner’s ideas and work and built on them.

So, like all good science – all good magic too – nothing is set in stone but all is open to the powers of evolution, of growth. The Earth herself grows and learns and enlarges her consciousness as we learn and enlarge ours. We are part of her, she is made up of us. Knowing and understanding this is what wholeness and integration is about. You can take this idea of the oneness of all Life at any level you like, it works perfectly well at a materialistic level, just as it does at spiritual ones. The Gaia Principle works this way although Lovelock says he felt no need for spirituality in his life.

But the preparations are powerful stuff, even if nobody really knows yet why they work … you only have to use them for a little while to see for yourself how effective they are. There’s nothing like experience to convince you of something :-).

My first experience …

My own first experience of using prep 500 – horn manure – was of this ilk. My husband, Paul, went along to Steiner House in London to see what it was all about just after Yule one year long ago. They did a stirring of the 500 and he came home with a jam jar of dirty-looking brown liquid and a large wallpaper brush, trotted out into the garden and began flicking the stuff all over the shop. “Men!” I thought, “ah well, he’s not doing any harm.” He hadn’t told me anything about it or I might have recognized some of the ideas from what my dad and uncle used to do.

Me with Goldy & Star

The previous autumn I’d dug up the small patch of lawn in our little London terrace house garden. Being a plants-woman I’d no place for grass in such a small space. I’d stacked the grass, turf side down, under some black membrane to make topsoil for the following spring. Being in London meant we were on good old clay with only about four inches of topsoil before you hit the pan. Paul did another stirring at home the following month and I joined in this time.

Come the end of February I got out there with a fork to see how things were going and begin making the new flower beds. I stuck the fork in the ground, expecting to have to heave up heavy clay and it slid in, a whole spit’s depth. I forked it up and imagine my surprise when I found I now had a whole spit [a spit is the depth of the tines on your fork] of good soil where last November I’d only had London clay. All we had done to it was put the prep 500 on it a couple of times, nothing else, and we hadn’t had a hard winter so it wasn’t frost doing any of the work. It seemed the prep had somehow transmuted heavy clay into good topsoil. Wow! I was converted completely. However it did it the stuff was magic, we were definitely using it.

I later found this is one of the basic things using the prep can do. We’ve demonstrated it again here at Archenland where we were originally on heavy stagnoglay – anaerobic clay, not easy stuff to get in good nick. Getting the preps on the ground is what does the work. Doing it in time and tune with the Moon makes it really spin.

The picture is of our London garden – I don’t seem to have many of those easily to hand, will try to look out some more as it was very lovely, if tiny :-).

Elen Sentier
… behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat …
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