This week, we held an introduction to biodynamics workshop with Kai. After a morning in the greenhouse learning about some of the key concepts around biodynamics, we moved on to the practical task of turning compost. It turns out composting is enjoyable work when shared!
Kai explained the importance of a balanced compost pile - including drier, coarser woody material (such as stems and straw) which supports the structure and aeration of the heap and green material (such as fruits and leaves) which supports nutrition. We also added a few buckets of water and some soil to the mix. The material should be similar dampness to a wrung out towel! Adding a little bit of slightly clay soil to the heap is also recommended. Clay particles can bind and stabilise decomposed soil organic matter and prevent it draining off - creating clay-humus nuggets, otherwise known as black gold!
Humification processes (the result of decomposition of organic material) are critical to the organic garden. According to biodynamic practices, there are a number of plants that help with the humification process. This includes nettle, yarrow, chamomile, dandelion and oak. These plants are composted in sheathes and then added to the compost heap.
After adding these herbal preparations to the compost heap, we then stirred the cow pat pit preparation (CPP) in a bucket for 20 minutes and then sprayed it around the garden. CPP is a composted form of manure, eggshall and basalt rock that is used in biodynamic practices. Tests of CPP suggest a wide range of colonies or families of fungi and bacteria during the fermentation of the manure, eggshell and rock mix combined with the biodynamic preparations of nettle, yarrow, chamomile, dandelion and oak. We also stirred the valerian preparation and applied it to the compost heap. According to biodynamics practice, the valerian creates a warmth that protects the compost heap from frost.
Stirring the preparations in water is considered important as it ensures thorough mixing of the preparations and brings oxygen to the water. The action also is believed to awaken the microbes within the preparation - similar to adding warm water to sourdough starter. Creating a vortex and then chaos through the stirring is thought also to hold a deeper meaning - to create sensitivity to take up new information. It also becomes a kind of ritual. A chance to focus and set intentions.
We are going to be hosting another workshop on biodynamics in the garden in spring. If you would like to learn more about biodynamics ...watch this space!