Posts Tagged ‘Biodynamics’

bd_observationFYI, if you’d like to get your hand dirty and learn more in-depth about Biodynamic farming and gardening, check out the Biodynamic Education series at Rudolf Steiner College. This fine institution with great staff and gardens is located in Fair Oaks, CA. Their 2009-2010 workshops include everything from compost and seed saving to bee keeping and the cosmic nature of water. Check it out!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

If you haven’t checked out our Events page yet, please note – we’re hosting the Summer 2009 Biodynamic Association of Northern California (BDANC) Meeting.

We are especially excited that Robert Karp, the new Executive Director of the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association (BDA) is the keynote speaker. Check out his recent interview here on visioning the biodynamic movement’s future. So exciting…

So, here’s a chance to visit the farm in summer mode (800 tomato plants, various eggplant and peppers, cover cropping in preparation for winter plants, pastured poultry, sheep in the rangeland…) AND learn about biodynamic farming and hang out with other foodies, farmers, and gardeners. ūüôā

Read Full Post »

Unearthing BD Preps

Our last CSA sort of the season. Thank you, farm members, for joining us our first winter CSA season!

lettuce, spring onions, pac choi, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, beets

lettuce, spring onions, pac choi, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, beets

This past Saturday, after a fun end-of-season CSA potluck with members and friends, we dug up the biodynamic preparations we buried last fall. Laura, a Willits member and active participant in the Biodyanmic Association of Northern California (BDANC), helped explain the preparations and what we were looking for in determining if the preps were ready or not.

pulling out the horn manure

pulling out the horn manure. we buried 27 horns at the garden and more at another site on the farm.

the 500 had a good earthy smell, although it was dry and difficult to get out of the horns. this was not surprising, as this past winter was not very rainy.

the 500 had a good earthy smell, although it was dry and difficult to get out of the horns. this was not surprising, as this past winter was not very rainy.

if next winter is dry again, we should unearth the cow horns sooner. we could probably bury them somewhere else in the garden that would get more water flow.

if next winter is dry again, we should unearth the cow horns sooner. we could probably bury them somewhere else in the garden that would get more water flow.

next, we dug up the chamomile, which was contained in ceramic pots.

next, we dug up the chamomile, which was contained in ceramic pots.

the chamomile was not ready. you could still see the flower heads, and it was super wet, probably because the pots held in moisture. so, we put them back in the ground.

the chamomile was not ready. you could still see the flower heads, and it was super wet, probably because the pots held in moisture. so, we put them back in the ground.

the small amount of dandelion we buried was ready. you could smell a hint of dandelion in it.

the small amount of dandelion we buried was ready. you could smell a hint of dandelion in it.

pulling the cow skull with oak bark out of the muck.

pulling the cow skull with oak bark out of the muck.

cow skull rinsed off. adam cracked it open down the middle.

cow skull rinsed off. adam cracked it open down the middle.

laura discusses the oak bark preparation. we'll let it air and stir it every once in a while until it dries out.

laura discusses the oak bark preparation. we'll let it air and stir it every once in a while until it dries out.

Read Full Post »

March 21, 2009

IN YOUR BASKET THIS WEEK

Purple Top White Globe Turnips
Scarlet Nantes Carrots
Spring Onions
Little Lincoln Leeks
Various Lettuce
Red Ace Beets
Red Russian Kale
Collard Greens
Eros Escarole

NOTES FROM THE FIELD

“Gaining an hour” last week, combined with the spring weather, has made such a change in the farm routine. Aside from the bit of rain earlier in the week, we have had long warm, sunny days to get things done. This week is the last harvest of turnips and collards, and the third planting of broccoli and cauliflower have not matured yet.

We are well underway in transitioning the winter CSA garden for summer production. A lot of fast-growing greens for spring, like lettuce, pac choi, Napa cabbage, and other Asian greens are growing fast in the greenhouse. Some of those are being planted at Heart Arrow, and much will be planted in Potter Valley. We are barely keeping up with clearing out the old vegetables, spreading compost and transplanting them. We feed a lot of the old broccoli and cauliflower stalks to our four angora goats, and all the giant weeds in the pathways are getting mixed with horse manure for compost.

We spent part of a morning walking around Adam’s father’s neighborhood picking dandelion heads for the Biodynamic compost preparation 506. Peter Proctor’s Grasp the Nettle: Making Biodynamic Farming & Gardening Work says to pick them when the sun is just hitting them, and the heads are about half open. Dennis Klocek, a researcher of Biodynamics, among other things, noted in one of his lectures that we aim to catch the plant’s gesture – the rush to the periphery. According to Peter Proctor, we use dandelion for its potassium-silicic acid relationship. This essence is imparted to the compost, helping our vegetables have available the silicic acid they need. We buried the dandelion preparation last fall and will soon be unearthing it. Sometime late next month, we will be unearthing them, and you will be invited to join us for that event.

dandelion

dandelion

Adam spaded up some ground in between the fruit trees, as well as where we are going to plant. The trees are just about to bloom. We also harvested another pig. We are waiting and hoping that our third cow, #32, will have a baby this year, as the other two already have. If she does not, this will be her second year in a row, and we will not be able to keep her.

Eat well!
Adam Gaska and Paula Manalo

moo cows

moo cows

NOTES ON THIS ISSUE

Last weekend I attended a reunion of Berkeley  students who, back in the day, frequented Stiles Hall, previously affiliated with the YMCA, but now independent.   We were interested in social justice  issues, e.g., picketing banks that refused to employ  African-Americans, but which were more than happy  to take their money.  You get the picture. We were  creatures of the Sixties and most of us still have the  sensibilities that we honed in Berkeley at Stiles Hall  and on the picket line. One among us became an  architect (www.ratcliffarch.com) and has recently  renovated the interiors of the Life Sciences Building  (LSB) and the Bancroft Library.

If you ever took classes that met in LSB you likely  remember it as a dark place with a huge lecture hall  that could put you sleep in 3 or 4 minutes.  You  should see it now! LSB is a perfect place to show  children, grandchildren, friends or anyone interested  in architecture or paleontology. Not only can you  see through the building, North to South, but in your  path are dinosaur bones suspended in the light. The Jepson Herbarium opens to the center of the building  and looks inviting as well.   Another visit is in order.    Janie Sheppard

Beet Green Pasta

(Adapted from Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c currants
  • 1 bunch beet greens
  • 1‚ĀĄ2 small bunch mint
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1‚ĀĄ4 c olive oil
  • 1‚ĀĄ2 lb pasta
  • salt and pepper

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Cover currants with boiling water, soak for  15 minutes, drain.
  2. While currants are soaking, wash beet  greens, strip the leaves from the stems and  cut leaves into a chiffonade.  Chop stems  into 2-inch lengths.
  3. Stem the mint, wash leaves, and chop into  chiffonade.
  4. Put on a pot for the pasta.
  5. Peel and finely chop both onion and garlic. Saute with the bay leaf over medium heat in  half the olive oil until translucent. Add the beet leaves and stems and the currants and cook 5 minutes more, covered.
  6. Meanwhile, when the water has come to a boil, add the pasta.
  7. Uncover the beet greens, season with salt and  pepper, and add the mint leaves.
  8. When the pasta is cooked, drain it and toss with the sauce adding a ladle of the pasta  water and the rest of the olive oil. Add a splash of vinegar and a pinch of cayenne.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Please make sure to be in  and out of the Ukiah Farmers Market on Saturday,  April 4 before 11 a.m. because Adam and Paula  need to to be the annual meeting of the  Ukiah  Natural Foods Coop. 

Read Full Post »

Acres U.S.A. is the only national magazine that offers a comprehensive guide to sustainable agriculture. Charles Walters, the founder and executive director, recently passed away, leaving behind a huge legacy. His advocacy for eco-agriculture and independent farmers has been significant.

The most recent Acres U.S.A. republished a 1995 interview with Walters where he gives a good word on Biodynamics. From the interview:

Acres U.S.A. Can compost restore the millions of acres that rainforest destruction and industrial food farming have accounted for?

Walters Probably not – but biodynamics can. It is probably the most neglected form of bio-correct farming in the United States. Alex Podolinsky, in Australia, has about 1.5 million acres under his tutelage. I’ve seen stuff as hard as adobe brick turned to mellow loam using biodynamic preparation 500. Hugh Lovel’s ‘A Biodynamic Farm’ covers the various preparations. I think the ruined acres of the world need to turn to Podolinsky’s experience and to biodynamics. – his ‘Biodynamic Agriculture, Introductory Lectures,’ volumes 1 and 2, ought to be weighed out on jewelers’ scales, they are that precious.

From the March 2009 Acres U.S.A., Vol. 39, #3.

Read Full Post »

Dry Days & Compost Preps

Since it has not been rainy, Adam and I have been out in the field as much as possible, weeding, shaping new beds, planting more veg, and chasing away pests. Hence, we haven’t had many posts lately. We’ve planted a lot more lettuce, which we have to cover with remay right after transplanting because the birds love to feast on their tasty leaves. The second planting of broccoli is doing really well (as are the weeds around them), especially because they are planted toward the bottom of the hill, where the soil is best – dark, fluffy, and rich. We have noticed a couple gopher holes and have set traps, but I think the dogs are doing a fairly good job of keeping their population from rising right now.

Soon, we will be thinning the beets we direct sowed, transplant more lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, and Asian greens, and sow chard, beans, peas, salad mix, and more. Hopefully soon we will be putting up the hoop house, but there are a few materials for that that we still need to purchase.

Below, here are some great photos of Cody’s (one of our Ukiah members) from earlier this month. After Adam, Jerry, Jorge, and I made and buried Biodynamic preparations, Adam and I applied the preps (most of them purchased from the Josephine Porter Institute of Applied Biodynamics). In the future, we will not have to buy them, because we will have the preps we started making this year!

weeding. pulling out the big weeds was much easier with the wet soil, but we get a lot muddier.

weeding. pulling out the big weeds was much easier with the wet soil, but we get a lot muddier.

calculating the volume of the compost pile so we knew how much of the preps to put.

calculating the volume of the compost pile so we knew how much of the preps to put.

taking a teaspoon of one of the preps and placing it in a handful of compost...

taking a teaspoon of one of the preps and placing it in a handful of compost...

...to insert deep down in the compost pile. we put all the preps throughout the compost pile, their amounts in proportion to the total volume of the compost pile

...to insert deep down in the compost pile. we put all the preps throughout the compost pile, their amounts in proportion to the total volume of the compost pile

stirring in the valerian compost prep with rainwater.

stirring in the valerian compost prep with rainwater.

stirring valerian prep in rainwater for 20 minutes, creating a vortex, & meditating on the life-giving forces (valerian stimulate phosphate-activating bacteria in the soil, helping plants).

stirring valerian prep in rainwater for 20 minutes, creating a vortex, & meditating on the life-giving forces (valerian stimulate phosphate-activating bacteria in the soil, helping plants).

Read Full Post »

The day started off relatively dry as Adam and I drove over to Mac Magruder’s ranch in Potter Valley. Today, a cow was going down, along with three sheep and two pigs. A while back, we knew this was going to happen, so we decided it would be a good day to make some Biodynamic preparations; what we wanted were the head and guts of the cow going down.

For folks unfamiliar with Biodynamics (BD), in short, it involves making soil and compost preparations to enliven the soil which feeds the crops and animals we grow for food. We farm organically, but we also try to heal the Earth with these practices. When Mendocino Organics decided to farm at Heart Arrow Ranch, it has also been our aim to help develop the Goldens’ BD program, primarily by helping them make preparations on-farm. At this time of year, this entails making some of the preparations we made today:

Preparation 500 – Cowhorn dung – Promotes root activity and germination of seeds. Stimulates microscopic life in the soil and increases growth of beneficial bacteria. Regulates lime and nitrogen content and aids in the release of trace elements.

Jerry collected manure from Adam’s Dexter cows and packed it into about 50 cowhorns. Tomorrow, we will bury the cowhorns.

photo by Cody Christopulos

photo by Cody Christopulos, Ukiah CSA member

Preparation 503 – Chamomile – Stabilizes nitrogen in the compost and promotes soil life, stimulating plant growth.

It was like making sausages! We took the cow’s small intestines, removed the excess fat around it, cut them into foot-long segments, and flushed them with a water hose. Then we tied one end of each segment, stuffed them full with moist chamomile flowers, and tied the other end. We made about 10 or so “sausages.”

Preparation 505 – Oak bark – Provides healing qualities to combat harmful plant diseases.

Adam took the cow’s head, (cut the tongue out and gave it to Jorge who will make a yummy dinner with it tonight), cut the excess meat off, and flushed out the brains. With oak bark from the tree in the middle of our garden, Jerry and Jorge helped grind the bark into a powder which was then stuffed into the cow’s skull and plugged shut.

Preparation 506 – Dandelion – Stimulates the relationship between silica and potassium, helping silica attract ethereal qualities to the plants.

Adam collected dandelion heads this past spring. We tie little bundles of the dried flower heads in the cow’s mesentery (it holds our guts in). The cow we had was pretty fatty (over 1,200 lb), which made extracting and cleaning the mesentery a challenge.

burying cowhorns, photo by Cody Christopulos

burying cowhorns, photo by Cody Christopulos

Read Full Post »