The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Biodynamic gardening update for January


Photo: Home grown veg in a trug

Photo: Home grown veg in a trug

It all started with The Gaia Book of Organic Gardening by Patrick Holden and Cindy Engel. The Chicken Lady gave me this book for Christmas. I absorbed every page. It’s packed with ideas on how to improve the soil in your garden without the need for chemical fertilisers and very useful information and pointers to make a garden more self sustainable. Exactly the book that I needed, as I’ve become obsessed with improving our kitchen garden soil.

Then I started to read more widely and discovered that biodynamic gardening is like organic gardening with knobs on. Apparently it increases yields, improves flavour, and flowers and vegetables stay fresh longer when harvested. As I’m planning to sell fresh flowers and organic veg on the stand – it seemed a system worth investigating.

As with any new project I immersed myself in the subject. There’s not a massive amount of information on the Internet. But if you are interested the Lunar Organics site is a great place to start. Here the basic principles are laid out very clearly with links to related sites of interest. I have one of their lunar calendars apart from being very beautiful to look at it is very easy to use. It stands beside my bed and every morning I unroll it feeling like a mediaeval farmer and plot and plan. The little book that accompanies the calendar is great too – including loads of tips for complimentary planting, organic pest control and much, much more.

I bought my biodynamic seeds from this site. They arrived very quickly and were accompanied by another little book with clear instructions for sowing, tending and harvesting. These booklets lie beside my bed too. I can highly recommend them and the Lunar Organics calendar for the beginner in biodynamic gardening.

As you know I also have Maria Thun’s The Biodynamic Sowing and Planting Calendar 2010 this lives on the kitchen table and it not quite as easy to use as the Lunar Organics calendar.

Another good site for getting to grips with the techniques and methods is the Biodynamic Agricultural Association site. I bought my preparations from there.

It’s interesting that a lot of people are practicing composting principles similar to the biodynamic ones. The allotment blogger recommended this book for instructions on how to speed up composting. The components are the same as those in the biodynamic preparations for composting.

Meanwhile we are already getting good results. Our seed germination has been amazing. Much faster than usual with sturdy healthy seedlings. The cottage windowsills hold tiny modules of strawberries, tomatoes, parsley (yes they germinated for me for the first time!), thyme, and cosmos. As each batch germinates they are removed from the heated propagator and the space is filled with new seeds that match the day according to the lunar calendar. There are four types of days – fruit, flower, root and leaf. There are also other things to take into account as well such as a waxing/waning moon and an ascending/descending moon.

Our first February Cottage Smallholder gardening competition is going to be sponsored and co judged by Lunar Organics. We will announce the theme tomorrow!

  Leave a reply


  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Angela

    Easter Monday and Tuesday!

  2. Angela Connolly

    I meant to send for a calendar, but now I want to sew my peas over Easter !!! Please can you look and tell me is it the ‘right’ time by the lunar method?

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Karen

    Biodynamic gardening is not a science. It is a range of techniques that have been used for over 80 years with good results. I believe that it is far better to practice tried and tested techniques rather than bleeding the soil dry with artificial fertilisers.

    I’m sorry that you are disappointed to find it being discussed here.

    In this blog I am always trying to move forward, so every now and then I am bound to offend people. Thank you for leaving a comment – negative feedback is important as it makes me examine my actions very carefully.

    Hi Allotment Blogger

    Yes these are exciting times. I’m growing all the relevant herbs in the garden this year as they seem to have a beneficial effect on a lot of vegetables.

    Hello Nick

    Interesting that you are setting up a smallholding at your old school. How forward thinking of them.

    I have been stunned by the results so far and reckon that even if you just go for planting by the moon you won’t be disappointed.

    Hi Mandi

    I love the zombie scare! I wouldn’t have had the sense to think of boarding up the windows with doors.

    Great ideas for me. Thank you. When I’m a bit better, I’d love to do the courses. We are thinking about setting up a mail order shop in the not too distant future. You are right Danny would love the geeky side of things.

    Interesting about selling the jars.. thanks.

    Hi Jackie

    There is going to be a monthly review of how it progresses. From a beginners point of view. I’m so lucky that hours in bed give me time for research.

    Thanks for dropping by.

    Hi Cookie Girl

    Thanks for the information, much appreciated!

  4. Cookie Girl

    There are very strict rules and regulations concerning the selling of homemade products – even jam. I found this out when I was having a bash at selling organic cakes at green fairs and organic fairs. Unwrapped cakes to eat straight away ? No problem, no labelling required. Packaged cakes – all the usual rules apply – eg the sort you see on bought cakes. The rules for jam are even more precise.. so much that I didn’t bother selling them but kept them for friends and family. If you are going to sell, make sure you get all the relevant info / legislation/insurance cover etc. Happy cooking and selling !!

  5. jackie Gibbins

    Hi Fiona.

    This is a fascinating subject. Please keep us updated as you go along.

    Best wishes,


  6. Oh and I forgot… the post about health and hygiene about selling your jams and marmalades etc, I am not sure I’ll check, but I think you can get round these annoying little ‘rules’ by not actually selling the contents.. its free… with the jar and its the jar your are selling.

  7. It must be the approaching full moon but my head is spinning with all sorts of stuff ( I suffer terribly from brain whizz as my husband calls it.)
    Things seem to dart in and out of my mind in nano seconds, some being totally manic, like the time I dreamed the planet had been taken over by zombies and spent the whole of the next day measuring my internal doors to get square footage to see if I had enough to board up my windows and then went on to make a charted diet paln using all the food I had in the house to see how long I could last before having to go outside. I know…. never going to happen… I did keep telling myslef that but I had to finnish the list.
    Anyway… 2 things for you, I have seen programmes about people who buy villas abroad and do ‘art’ weekends or if they in france and growing grapes they do’ wine making’ weekends, basically where people come and either stay with them or at a hotel close by and spend the day couple of days seeing what happens or learn how to do stuff. Can you start cottage smallholder weekends, I’m sure people would love to meet the minpins and the chickens also you can rope them in for free labour in the garden etc and they’d be paying. You could arrange local lodging at a nice country pub etc and either they eat with you one of your excellent recipes in the smallholder cottage kitchen or send them packing back to the pub. Also would it work to put an online stall in the web site? Mail order etc.. I’m sure danny would love the geeky web building and its so easy to set up these days with paypal being so widespread now its not like you would have to pay fortune for merchant licenses for credit cards or anything? It would be a way of still selling in the winter months when the weathers awful and I’m sure your products would make lovely xmas gifts.

  8. Biodynamic growing sounds interesting, our ancestors grew the majority of their crops according to Lunar cycles (one of the benefits of studying archaeology and anthropology!)

    I am in the process of setting up a smallholding at my old school, might have to loop the lunar cycle into my plans…good post!

  9. For me, biodynamic crosses the line from good green common-sense into pseudoscience. I hadn’t really expected to read about it here 🙁

  10. allotment blogger

    Thanks for the mention – we are such novices at this stuff that it’s very good to know somebody else is trying new things too!

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