GWM August 2011

It’s still very dry. The farmers around here are using sprinklers. Yes, I know the weather forecast whinges on about the “awful rain”, not proper summer weather – where do most people think food comes from? What do they think their bodies and food is mostly made of/ do they not realise that we are 70% water? Probably not … no wonder the Earth is in such a mess if we know absolutely nothing about our own makeup!

We need the rain. Climate change has made huge differences to how crops grow, how our garden crops grow, the flowers we can grow, everything. Shropshire – north of me here in Hereford – now has a commercial olive orchard! Yikes! Do you realise what this means for the previously indigenous plants? Most people have been on holiday to France and Greece and Spain nowadays, places where olives are indigenous as they are not here in Britain. What sort of climates do those places have? Hot and dry. That’s why you go there on holiday, to bake your skin into cancer. Now think of all the British plants … apples for instance such as Hereford is famous for. They need rain to be good. Climate change has changed all that. You don’t think we can change it back, do you? We’ve had that, messed it up, it will only get worse. We now have to learn how to live with what we’ve done.

Biodynamics does help. No, it does not cure global warming! However, along with good organic practice, it does help the soil and the plants to adapt to global warming. Some of our native plants – and all the insects and animals that depend on them – will disappear; go extinct because of what we’ve done. Really makes you feel good, that thought, doesn’t it? But more will survive, changed but alive, with the aid of biodynamics. Our garden here at Archenland is a proof of that.

As I said at the beginning, the farmers around here are using sprinklers to keep their crops growing. My watering regime is not as intense as theirs although I grow most of my own vegetables. Vegetables, food crops, need a lot of water; a) it’s the major part of their make-up; b) they need it because we take them out of the ground, grow most of them as annual plants, so they draw up the food and moisture from the soil but do not die and do not put it back in the soil at the end of the season because we eat them!

You know that I use the biodynamic preps. These help to reduce the need for watering. The main one that does this is Prep 500, Horn Manure. By aiding the soil fauna and flora it helps the soil adapt to hold more moisture. I help it further by composting every darn thing I can and adding this back to the soil. As I said, vegetable and crop growing takes food and water from the soil which harvesting the crops does not give back. So one of the major parts of our gardening work here is to make compost; another is to find, collect and compost organic cow, horse, chicken and pig manure. We are pretty fortunate, able to get the stuff. The farmers need it too, for the same reasons we do, so we cannot take too much; fortunately there are several farms and horse-keepers we can ask for the stuff.

Composted weeds and kitchen waste + composted animal manure are a great help to the soil, and the roots of the plants. They provide nutrients (food) and help with water retention; they also help the mycorrhiza to grow and function well. These incredible fungi help the sugar and water exchange of all plants. For instance, in soils with a basic pH plant roots on their own may be incapable of taking up phosphate ions that are demineralized. The mycelium of the mycorrhizal fungus can access these phosphorus sources and make them available to the plants they colonize. Both Prep 500 and the compost preps aid the growth and colonisation of the mycorrhiza in your garden with; they in their turn help plants cope and adapt to the unsuitable conditions we have created with global warming.

You can use the compost preps very easily by using the Mausdorfer preparation; see my previous article on composting with Cool Heaps – the little and often method most gardeners have to use. This is much easier than working with the 6 preparations individually; to do that you need a really big heap of compost that’s ready all at the same time – we gardeners rarely have that! You can use the Mausdorfer in your Bokashi and your wormery too as I say in the article.

Using Prep 500 directly onto your soil, preferably about once every couple of months between September and the end of March for the northern hemisphere – the other way around for the southern hemisphere, i.e. from March to the end of September – will enable your soil and all the soil-life to adapt and work with the new climate conditions.

Using biodynamically prepared compost will do the same.

Doing both will make a difference. Like me, you won’t need to water so much in order to keep the plants growing and producing food for you; and producing beauty; and the nectar and seeds that feed the insects and birds and so maintain the cycles of life.

We’ve been working the land here since June 2000. At first the soil was in poor condition; we worked hard, lots of compost, lots of manure, lots of spraying with Prep 500. The land improved dramatically, our farming and gardening neighbours noticed; some even asked what we were doing and began doing it themselves. It’s got better each year … as the global warming effects have increased. I’m hoping that the watering regime will get even less; it certainly has gone down over the years although this early summer was very bad indeed with no rain for months just at the time the plants need it to put on growth.

If you are just beginning with biodynamics it’s OK to start with Prep 500 right now. I know I said between March and September, and it’s only August, but if you’re beginning you just get on with it. The land will thank you so go for it so don’t get hung up in rules and regulations! You have to adapt your thinking too as well as your gardening techniques, rules and regs are guidelines not set in stone; the sun will still rise tomorrow even if you go against perceived wisdom! Your garden is your best adviser along with your own instincts. We’re not much encouraged to use our instincts nowadays, it doesn’t make money for the experts if we don’t rely on what they say, buy their books and their expensive products! You do know the definition of an expert ??? An “ex” is a has-been, a “spurt” is a drip under pressure … says it all really!

Do go for it, get spraying with the 500, get some Mausdorfer (or cow-pat-pit) and get it onto your land, into your compost heap. Don’t chuck all that good compostable material and remember that newspapers and egg-boxes and such are vital to the heap too – see this composting article for some easy good advice, and keep adding Mausdorfer or cow-pat-pit to it. Get as much of your waste stuff in heaps to go back and feed yourself, rather than ruin the Earth further by going into land-fill.

We really can help the Earth cope with the damage we’ve done 🙂

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