My Patch: Welsh Heaven

Backyard paradise: urban biodynamic bliss
30th July 2019
Lucy’s Biodynamic Patch
6th March 2020

Many members will enjoy Charles’ posts on our Facebook group. A seasoned gardener, he shares his story and how biodynamics is bringing something extra to his gardening life. We’d love to hear your story, too!

My introduction to gardening was as a 3-year-old when my grandfather took me to pick gooseberries at the bottom of his garden in Woking. I remember vividly the pricks, as I do still now. As a young child, I had a small veg patch and so it went on- I grew some veg when I was living in London and later in the North East. After moving to Wales I discovered Biodynamics- not through gardening but wine. I watched Monty Waldin’s series on his adventure to set up a biodynamic vineyard. It made sense, I got the idea of looking after the soil- we were already pretty much organic but I then used the 500 and 501 preps- although with limited knowledge.

This year I attended a Biodynamic course at Pals Dwbl in Pembrokeshire – organised by the Biodynamic Association. This made everything I had read begin to make sense. For example, over the years I have gardened and grown crops, I saw the soil as just something I used, added some manure and all would be fine. Now, I am far more focused on the soil as the living place that needs nurturing and working in tune with nature and the cosmos.

On the course, Laura initially took us out to dig a hole and look at the soil- see the structure. Was it smooth or rough could we seem worm droppings-we did. We then were sent out to sit and feel the “Spirit of the Place” -a concept based on the writings of Goethe. This is one thing I have taken on-board- I now spend 5-10 minutes sitting at the top of my garden just absorbing it.

The Maria Thun calendar is what I use-both the App and the Paper versions- but as I was told on the course, I do not follow totally. Due to work or travel, I cannot always plant on the right day according to Root/Flower/Leaf/Fruit, I do avoid Generally Unfavourable times. Storage crops like onions I do lift on the suggested date. This year I am going to spray seeds with 501 before sowing-it is meant to strengthen plants against fungus.

Over the last 10 years, I think I have slowly evolved the idea of gardening for our space. Catching rainwater was a major breakthrough when I worked out using panels over a structure could feed water into tanks- which I got from a builder friend who was chucking them out. Then noticed bees were getting trapped in the water so I put corks in bags as a float. I have been looking for old cattle troughs- back in the 1960’s every field had them, often unused and full of newts. Could not find them so just bought a new one- far easier than a water butt as you just dip in.

Biodynamic gardening has changed the way I garden- I feel more involved in the space- though I do also spend some time listening to cricket while looking at the veg beds thinking what to do next. The Biodynamic Gardening club which I joined when it launched is useful to get ideas from other members regarding issues such as getting rid of cabbage caterpillars and so on. Recently members have been uploading pictures of their gardens- inducing some garden envy !

Gardening must be enjoyable and I truly think using a Biodynamic approach has made me appreciate the garden in a way I had not before (I tend not to wake up that early, but there is something wonderful at sitting in the early light stirring the bucket for an hour !)

Hopefully, more and more people will adopt biodynamics- it does not have to be followed as rigorously as initial reading might suggest. It is after all, all about looking after the soil – the crops will then flourish as will the wildlife. If the Association offers more courses next year I would highly recommend them- the course I attended was the best gardening learning experience I have had. Planting by the moon and planets, fitting in with the rhythms of nature is not new- we just forgot how do to it in the post-industrial revolution world.

Ed note: Read Charles’s full feature here
He also recently reviewed The Buckhoe – a hand new tool for the gardener.
Find out here what he thought. For more info on the Buckhoe including a video of its many uses and to buy one click here.