Ever wondered what biodynamic gardening was all about? I was given an enlightening day away from the city with my friend Penny at her beautiful farm in the southern highlands, where she and her friend Marie demystified the biodynamic process first developed by Rudolph Steiner. In fact Biodynamics helped set the wheels in motion for the development of the organic movement. Most soil today has been stripped of all minerals from over intensified farming methods and the use of chemical pest controls which has drastically starved food of it’s true nutritional value. Introduce biodynamics techniques and the ‘preparation 500’ on your vegetable plot and you get food full of natures goodness.  But biodynamics also incorporates the mystical belief of soil and a farm as a living system. Rudolf even believed that eating plants that had become dependent on chemical fertilizers would cause people to ‘lose their will.’

Penny’s Vegetable Plot

Vegetable patch

Creating ‘Preparation 500’  is a little unusual and requires lactating cow horns, fresh manure, a full moon, and hand stirring of the mixture for 1 hour. We had the lot including a full moon and Penny’s friendly Jersey cow Daisy, who had provided the manure. As well as the milk for our morning coffee!

Burying cow horns

Removing the cow dung

Known as cow horn manure, ‘preparation 500’ is basically fermented cow dung. It is the basis for soil fertility, and the renewal of degraded soils. It is usually the first preparation used during the change over to the organic/biodynamic system.

Preparation 500 is made by filling a cow’s horn with cow dung, and burying it in the soil during the cooler months.

Ideally the manure should be from a lactating cow which will bring in the calcium processes to the preparation.

It is stirred for one hour making a vortex or crater in one direction and then reversing the direction and making a vortex in the other direction.

The stirred preparation can then be sprinkled with a whisk brush over the land at the descending phase of the moon.

While this may sound unconventional, it might surprise you to know that the glass of wine you drank last night at dinner could have been created with these methods, which are part of the rapidly growing biodynamic movement.

The whole process felt very satisfying, especially the vortex stirring, which apart from anything else provided us with a good hour of great conversations.I whizzed back to my newly planted Sydney vegetable patch, with atrocious sandy soil, clutching the jar of precious vortexed ‘preparation 500’, which to the untrained eye looked like muddy water, and  grabbing the kitchen whisk, gaily sprinkled my vegetable patch with the nutritious nectar. All in the light of the full moon, of course. Biodynamics are me!

The Vortex in full swirl..

Starting from the outside in to create the perfect storm

Old friends talking ….