Gardeners are always trying to take it their garden to the next level.
One gardener, let’s say her name is Gabriella, had always been proud of her organic garden—rows of tomatoes, bell peppers, lettuce, zucchini and other vegetables, all grown without the aid of chemical pesticides or fertilizers. But on a trip to the farmer’s market she saw a farmer’s booth and learned about biodynamics— holistic, and often times regenerative, practices that go beyond organic. The more she learned about biodynamics and the way it considers humans and the earth to be a part of a synchronistic relationship, the more she wanted to incorporate this practice into her own garden. Here’s what she did to make her own backyard more biodynamic:
Plant to Attract Pollinators and Other Animals: Gabby walked around her garden and thought about how biodynamics is all about the symbiotic nature of plants and animals in a cycle of life. Gabby decided she wanted to attract natural pollinators like bees. She also wanted more birds, especially hummingbirds, which are fun to watch and also eat tiny insects and spiders. And she liked the idea of more butterflies, which are both pollinators and prey for birds. In deciding what plants to put in, she looked for species that would attract these animals. For bees, she chose sunflowers, basil, thyme, and aster. For hummingbirds she picked out yucca, dahlias, and irises. For butterflies, she planted lavender, marigold, and sage, and placed them in sunny, less windy places so the delicate creatures could fly and land with less effort. Birds like trees for perches, nests, protection, shade, and rest. Gabby planted two young trees that blossom – one was a peach tree she was excited about for the future fruit and bees in the spring. To make the garden more attractive for lizards, snakes, and some insects, Gabby decided to pile some rocks and old logs in a sunny corner and also included some larger trees and shrubs as habitats.
Plant to Avoid Pests:. As an organic gardener she had already avoid pesticides. Thinking in a biodynamic fashion, Gabby looked for companion plants that might deter harmful bugs from the vegetables. She learned that the scent of certain herbs, and plants like onions and garlic, discourage unwanted bugs. These she put in a border on the outside of her garden. She loved the idea of using the garlic, onions and herbs in her cooking and harvesting natural spearmint for her tea.
Compost and Soil Enhancement: Rich soil is key to biodynamics. Gabby had already set up her organic garden with rich soil, but she wanted to make it even better. She decided to put in a compost pile and a worm bin and she left room to perhaps install a beehive in the future. Many biodynamic growers enhance soil fertility by applying special preparations diluted in water (“compost tea”). Gabby ordered Pfeiffer Biodynamic Field & Garden Spray, which helps transform organic material in soil to rich, nutrient-dense humus. The Pfeiffer spray incorporates the six biodynamic compost preparations, which are made from specific herbs: yarrow flowers, chamomile blossoms, the whole areal portion of the stinging nettle while in flower, oak bark, dandelion blossoms and valerian flowers. More information about how to use these practices can be found at: https://jpibiodynamics.org/preparation-info/about-biodynamic-preparations/
Get rid of “invaders” and Plant Regional Natives: After learning how invasive species of plants can harm native species, Gabby researched her own region and took a new look at non-natives that had not bothered her before. She carefully pulled out scattered areas of wild mustard, which may have started from seed dropped by birds. Invasive plants like this one produce chemicals in the soil that can prevent the growth of native seedlings. Next to her garden she eyed a large area of ice plant put in by a former homeowner. She now realized that this quick growing invasive robbed water and nutrients and affected the soil cycle that her vegetables plants depend on. Out it came. A big job, but worth it.
Keep Learning: Gabby decided to talk to her neighbors and see if others wanted to join in learning more about biodynamics. She found out that the Biodynamic Association educates people about biodynamic farming through training and community building, webinars and online courses, and offers a farmer training program including a two-year course directly on the farm. They also partner with Demeter, the Biodynamic certifier, to encourage more certification of Biodynamic farms and products in the US. Part of Gabby’s ongoing learning is walking through her backyard, taking note of the rhythms and cycles. She notices how things are growing, dying and forming new life again. Adopting a biodynamic mentality is a practice of sensing, observing and becoming more aware of what needs attention. As Gabby’s garden grows, she will constantly be making observations and modifications as she does her best to take care of the planet.
With biodynamic farming, small considerations make big changes, taking steps toward a more regenerative earth and a balanced, brighter future.
Check out The Biodynamic Association website for more information: LEARN MORE