Using biodynamic principles to build healthier gardening systems

Biodynamics is defined as a holistic, ecological and ethical approach to gardening. Picture: Shutterstock.
Biodynamics is defined as a holistic, ecological and ethical approach to gardening. Picture: Shutterstock.

Organic gardening has been touted as the way of the future and there is a plethora of information available on how to garden organically by creating your own organic pesticides, composting and companion planting.

There are however many gardeners that find themselves digging for something deeper. The answers to what they seek can be found in biodynamics, which is embedded in the work of philosopher and scientist Dr Rudolph Steiner, who proposed a new way to integrate scientific understanding with a recognition of spirit in nature.

Biodynamics is defined as a holistic, ecological and ethical approach to gardening. It looks at the garden as an integrated, whole, living organism.

A garden is made up of many interdependent elements which includes the plants, animals, insects, compost, soils and the "spirit" of the place.

It is the spiritual aspect of biodynamics that many gardeners find contentious or have difficulty understanding.

It encourages gardeners to observe the rhythms and cycles of seasons, the sun, moon, planets and stars and how this influences plant growth to determine the best time for sowing, planting, cultivating and for applying biodynamic preparations.

There are several preparations that are used to enhance plant immunity to pest and diseases, make more resilient to climatic extremes and improve soil health and vitality to provide conditions for optimal soil, plant, and animal health.

Keep in mind, if your soil is pumping, your plants are pumping.

By applying the biodynamic principle of incorporating a diverse range of plants in the garden, creating habitat for natural predators, then pests and diseases have few places to thrive.

Healthy plants can better defend themselves against pests, and don't get attacked in the first place.

The presence of pests or diseases often points to an imbalance in the garden as a whole and can be seen as nature's way of trying to correct the imbalance.

When an outbreak occurs, biological controls can be used, but a biodynamic gardener will try to understand the underlying imbalance and find ways to adjust management practices to bring the garden as an organism into greater health.

  • John Gabriele is a horticulture teacher.
This story Building healthier gardening systems from the ground up first appeared on The Canberra Times.