The Cottage Smallholder

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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!

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  1. Mick Mercer

    Thanks for this article. It has pointed me to some useful information as we are looking into trying bio dynamic principles on our new allotment. I shall look forward to future posts with interest.

  2. cottage doors

    Just wondering, do you call her the chicken lady because she delivers chickens, or something more intriguing?

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi cottage doors

      The Chicken Lady was nicknamed this monika as she and her husband raise a lot of chickens. They used to show chickens in the past and won prizes too!

      BTW very impressed with your doors!

  3. Angela Connolly

    Grand Fiona, I thought peas would have been sowed in the ‘flower’ time??? As its the flowers that turn to peas !!!Is Easter Monday and Tuesday ‘Leaf’?? Thanks for that.

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