April 9, 2010

Gardening 101 Guest Post--What is Biodynamics?

I have been too busy gardening to write about gardening these days.  Luckily the Good Earth Farmers have come to my rescue with the article below.  Stay tuned tomorrow for the follow up, which better explains the double digging method, the method used at our home when adding new gardens. 

Below is a guest post written by Mr. Darren Smith from the Good Earth Farmers, a co-op of farmers serving the Eastern Tennessee area. I’ve included some information about the farmers below.  If you’d like to sign up for their free weekly newsletter, please e-mail-- goodearthfarmers@gmail.com Even if you are outside of the East TN area, I encourage you to sign up. Their newsletter always has great information on eco-conscious living, organic farming, and in season recipes.

What is Biodynamics?

Although we do not farm biodynamically, the method intrigues us. We also get questions, which we can't answer about biodynamic gardening/farming. When we mentioned this to our friend Darren Smith, he kindly responded with the following article. Thank you, Darren!

Introduction to Biodynamics, Part One

My friend Stephen Clements told me people occasionally ask him, "What is biodynamics?"  I am by no means an expert on the subject, but I do have some experience with it, and do what I can to follow biodynamic principles in my own garden.

Birdsong FarmLet's start with some simple observations.  Have you had onions, garlic or potatoes unexpectedly start to sprout in your refrigerator, where others have kept for a long time?  The answer lies below.

One aspect of biodynamics is what some people refer to as planting by the stars.  Modern science tells us that the moon is responsible for the tidal activity of the oceans.  Since we're mostly water, and so are the plants in our gardens, it stands to reason that the moon also has similar important effects on plants.  By scheduling activities in our gardens in cycles that are consistent with the effects of the moon and constellations, we can help to enliven the vitality of our produce.

There are many levels to the body of knowledge comprising  biodynamics.  I first started with getting familiar with plants are their groupings.  There are four categories:

FLOWER: any plant where the focus is on the bloom (this also includes broccoli because the head is tightly packed flower buds)
LEAF:  this includes greens, lettuce, spinach, Brussels  sprouts and cabbage
ROOT: potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, beets, turnips
FRUIT: any above- ground edible portion (e.g., peas, beans, melons, cucumber, zucchini, tomatoes)

Biodynamic calendars give indications for the type of day.  Ideally, all activities for a particular type of crop would be done on that type of day (seeding, transplanting, hoeing, and harvesting).Birdsong Farm
What about those sprouting onions in the refrigerator?  There's a real good chance they were harvested on a LEAF day.  Onions will keep longer if they are harvested on a ROOT day.

-Darren Smith lives in Knoxville and is a practicing biodynamic gardener.
: Double Digging and Does the Biodynamic Approach Work?
Editor's Note: For those of you who can't wait for the next installment of this article, Darren offers some good sources  of information, including  The Josephine Porter Institute for Applied Biodynamics :  www.jpibiodynamics.org/

Some information about Good Earth Farmers

Good Earth Farmers grow all our produce on our small family farms in New Market, TN.  All our produce is free of herbicides (weed killers) and pesticides. We never use synthetic chemical fertilizers.  Our irrigation water is not chlorinated-- it's from our own tested wells and rain barrels.

Good Earth Farmers offer Garden Delivery, a flexible program which allows its members to select farm-fresh produce from an e-mail order form sent out each Friday evening. You pick up your order the following Wednesday. $10.00 membership fee, no minimum order, and no sales tax!  Pick-up at 3 locations on Wednesday:

  • Dandridge, Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, 3:30-4:00 p.m. 
  • Knoxville, Three Rivers Market, 4:45-5:30 p.m.
  • West Knoxville, John Bynon Park,6:00-6:30 p.m.

If you are in the East TN area, you can meet the farmers at an information table at Carson Newman College's  Earth Day celebration on the 21st of April (Jefferson City) as well as at Pellissippi State's Earth Fest (Knoxville) on the 17th.

For more information on the Garden Delivery program, please write us at gardendelivery@gmail.com To subscribe to our free weekly email newsletter or ask us questions, write goodearthfarmers@gmail.com

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