Making Five Hundred

This week, we have been working in conjunction with Aaron from Harvest Farms in Bilpin to make biodynamic preparation 500. I will be explaining what this is, but first I want to give you a little bit of background on biodynamics and how it came about.

Biodynamics started with Rudolf Steiner's Agriculture Course lectures, which he wrote in the early Twentieth Century. These very thorough lectures on wholistic agriculture methods are available to listen to for free online (here) and I really recommend them. They have now been scientifically studied and illustrated as a very successful method of growing food organically and regeneratively. I became interested in this method as it is an incredibly wholistic and successful way of growing food and caring for livestock, taking all aspects of the environment into account, including moon, sun and nutrient cycles, as well as soil life and water. I share this interest with my friend Aaron from Harvest Farms, his community supported agriculture farm in Bilpin, which regularly supplies Lyttleton with beautiful organic fruits and vegetables.

Biodynamic practises are based upon nine garden preparations numbered from 500 to 508. Preparation 500, otherwise known as 'horn manure', is one of the most important and frequently applied to our garden at Lyttleton. It consists of filling cow horns with organic cow manure and burying them 30cm deep under good topsoil over winter. During this time, the cow manure turns into beautiful, nutrient-rich, concentrated compost, which is ready to use the following Spring.

Small amounts of the concentrated composted manure is dissolved in rainwater and 'activated'  before applying: the mixture is turned clockwise and then anti-clockwise for one hour in a barrel. This stimulates beneficial microbes, which multiply to huge numbers through aeration and movement, much like in an aerated compost tea (AACT). It is then applied to the garden by soaking a wooden brush and flicking it over your plants and soil, so as to emulate rain droplets. It is incredibly beneficial for soil as well as plant leaves.

Take a look at photos of how we made our 500 this week at Harvest Farms below. We are quite excited to be making 500, which is local to the Blue Mountains and hasn't travelled long distances to get to us. I will be speaking about the other biodynamic preps and practices as we use them in the garden, so stay tuned!

 My son Oscar and I filling the horns with organic cow manure.

My son Oscar and I filling the horns with organic cow manure.

 Aaron placing the cow horns 30cm deep underground at Harvest Farms.

Aaron placing the cow horns 30cm deep underground at Harvest Farms.

 Stuffed cow horns

Stuffed cow horns

 Aaron covering the horns with topsoil.

Aaron covering the horns with topsoil.