Ever since the beginning of modern agriculture, farmers have been looking for ways to manipulate Mother Nature to increase productivity. The key point to remember is if there is a problem in the garden, it’s directly related to an imbalance. Whether it’s too many pests, not enough nutrition, or too much salt, an imbalance is to blame. Most gardeners assume there must be a lack of something if things aren’t going right, but usually imbalance is the culprit. This is where organics and bio-dynamics come into play.
What is Bio-dynamics?
Bio-dynamics is an organic form of gardening that incorporates co-operation with nature, meteorology, astrology, nutrition and esotericism to achieve true balance in both the garden and our bodies. N-P-K levels have been the standard fertilizer measurements since the 1800s, but they represent only three of the more than 100 elements in the periodic table.
A balance of all the elements is a key component in the grand scheme of things. In synthetic gardening, there are three macronutrients and up to 15 micronutrients that are said to be of use. However, in a forest, it takes a proper balance of all elements to achieve uninhibited growth.
What we put into our plants is what we get out of them when it comes to nourishment and that is why it’s so important to have all the essential elements in balance. An average synthetic fertilizer has roughly 13-15 elements out of the 118 possible, whereas a compost tea prepared with the right organic ingredients can include more than 100 elements, which directly relate to better nourishment for your plants and better food for your body.
Long before the use of fertilizers, people relied on keen observations of celestial cycles, weather patterns and growth patterns in their surrounding environments, which is what bio-dynamic farming practices were founded on. Bio-dynamics is the belief that a garden is a living, breathing entity all of its own. Many world records for vegetables have been achieved through organic and bio-dynamic gardening practices.
It all begins with using your surroundings while letting nature teach you how to nourish the land. By composting various forest items and using fine rock powders composed of essential elements, farmers can grow highly nutritious food completely free of chemicals. Planting and harvesting dates as well as applications of compost and compost teas are based on planetary and lunar cycles.
The direction in which you spin the water while mixing nutrients has been shown in studies to be influential on your garden as well. Clockwise rotation promotes flowering plants, while a counter-clockwise rotation promotes the vegetative stages. Bio-dynamic farmers have suggested that singing can imprint the water you are using with vibrations that affect the garden.
The sound of crickets chirping may even help signal plants to open their stomata in the evening to take in the settling dew from the day. These are just a few of the many examples that show us there is much more going on around us than we are aware of.
Bio-dynamics in Action
When we look at a thriving forest, we can begin to understand the basis for bio-dynamic gardening. The whole forest is connected by a giant network of different types of fungal components. We cannot see this network in action above ground unless a fruiting body comes to the surface to spread its spores in the form of a mushroom. Endo-mycorrhizal fungi are beneficial for soft-tissue plants, like annuals and flowers, and they actually enter plants’ root systems.
Ecto-mycorrhizal fungi help connect certain hard-tissue plants together by creating a protective barrier around their root systems. Both types of mycorrhizal fungi work like a secondary root system that can process many more elements out of the soil than a plant’s root system could do on its own.
While the fungus is at work in the soil, there are billions of microbes working to break down all of the organic matter in the forest. The microbes turn dead forest materials back into enzymes and essential elements that feed the roots of the plants and trees as well as the fungal components in the soil.
Once the dead material is converted to food, it gets used by the next generation of woodland flora and life begins anew. It is these cycles that show how gardening should be regenerative. That’s where composting comes into play.
Compost piles are easy to create and are easily the best way to generate balance in your garden. You can create compost by combining equal parts of hay or green material from your surrounding area, certain types of wood chips and manure or spent beer grains. By adding these together and inoculating the pile with humates, you can have a pile ready in 60 days, provided it gets proper air circulation, is flipped regularly, and its temperature is monitored.Whether it’s in the garden or in the body, balance is the ultimate goal in bio-dynamic gardening. The only way we can have true balance in the garden is by working with Mother Nature, rather than against her. Through organics and bio-dynamics, we can better our health and the planet.