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Hans – Gunther Kern shares his biodynamic insights on looking after your garden in autumn up to December. This is also the ideal season to make a biodynamic compost heap in one go
Rhythm is life
As many members discover, working with the biodynamic calendar helps bring nature’s rhythms, and hence more harmony, into our lives and gardens. Our monthly mini-vid guide gives you top tips for understanding and working with the Maria Thun biodynamic calendar and you can view it on our Youtube Channel here.
Be in tune with your weather
Over the last 40 years, the weather has become much more erratic and unpredictable. It looks like we might have an extended warm Indian Summer right into the end of October, with cooler weather leading into November. Irrespective of garden work to be done, make sure you are in touch with your local weather conditions and topography, and take this into account.
Whether you have started a new garden or built up the fertility of your garden soil for many years, there is always room for improvement. Building up stable humus content (which lasts for centuries) is the key aim of biodynamic soil regeneration.
- This is the time of year that the soil remains warm and with a very active soil life, favouring humus formation.
- Generally, humus forming organisms are most active from September into October and depending on weather conditions right into November.
- To enhance humus content, if you have areas sown into green manures over summer, work them into the soil from now until end of October.
Tip: Each time you work organic matter from crop residues/ green manures into your soil, apply the biodynamic barrel prep. 1-2 grams/ good pinch is all you need for a small garden, stirred for 20 minutes in vortex fashion into lukewarm water and applied with a brush in droplets.
This is one of the best all-purpose biodynamic preparations (activators) for gardeners to helps humus formation and absorption of organic material via the soil organisms. It also comes in a handy dried version called ( slightly confusingly) Mausdorf Starter. Both are available to buy from the BDA online shop here.
Homegrown fertility: green manures
September and October are the best times to sow your green manure crops on any empty space or beds.
Best results are obtained from sowing a mix of Winter vetch (tares) and oats or Hungarian rye mix.
Tip: To enhance the nodule formation in your legumes, which are part of your green manure mix, work in some well matured compost before sowing.
Tip: Apply the bio-dynamic soil activator (horn manure 500) in the late afternoon the day you sow. Apply 1-2 grams/ good pinch into lukewarm water and stir for 1 hour in vortex fashion, before applying in droplet form from a brush on your soil.
Greenhouse & cold frames
Late September and October is the last opportunity to sow your final succession of leaf crops in your greenhouse and cold frames.
November and December is the time to clean up all crop residues and do a general cleaning job on all the nursery utensils, pots and boxes, windows of and frames.
Using essential oils as natural cleaners
Antiseptic essential oils and soft soap are the best, cheapest and most effective natural way to disinfect your covered spaces and get all your utensils and equipment clean.Tea tree (melaleuca), wild orange, lemon, thyme or oregano are all suitable. This natural cleaning takes care of all remnants of pests and disease, hiding away in the corners; but will also ensure that all organisms will re-generate.This is important – in biodynamics we want a balance of bacteria, fungi and viruses present all the time, creating homeostasis and a co-evolutionary environment. This is the best way to build resilience.
- For a medium spray bottle, add a few drops of liquid soap plus 5-10drops of essential oils mixed in warm water, then give your equipment etc. a good scrub.
- To wash the inside of your greenhouse or cold frames, use a solution of 30 drops of essential oils with 15ml soft soap mixed in a bucket of warm water.
Harvesting is the main activity form now on, though it is still possible to sow some crops. For sowing, you need a minimum soil temperature of 6-10 ºC, and is generally is best done in the morning with the ascending and waxing Moon.
Harvesting is a bit more complex, depending on which vegetable types we harvest. Generally the best times to harvest are: –
ROOTS & STEMS: before sunset, late afternoon
LEAVES: around sunrise, early morning, with dew on them
FLOWERS: early morning, when dew has evaporated
FRUIT: late morning, when dry
SEEDS, NUTS, GRAINS AND PULSES: Early afternoon, when absolutely dry
For more on dried beans, tomatoes, and potatoes, see our Cook’s Corner here