Part of me that thinks bio-dynamics is a bit weird. Part of me also thinks there might be something in it after all. I seem to be vacillating between the two poles right now. One biodynamic notion that makes me prick up my ears is the semi homeopathic approach to weed control. Not all weeds are bad; nettles are an excellent fertilizer and dandelions are useful as a compost accelerant.
Weeds are also unbelievably bloody hardy. Along with cockroaches, there is no doubt in my mind that weeds would survive a nuclear holocaust. I used a weed flame gun on a patch of dandelions on the Green Centre’s garden path about a month ago. It took me half an hour to incinerate the little bastards and dig out their charred corpses. They came back to haunt me about three weeks later, as green and tough as ever.
No matter how many times I run the razor sharp Weeding Tool of Death over the earth, green shoots spring back up again. Chemicals are just wrong on every level, so that’s a no go area for me. So, I find myself waging an almost daily war against weeds with the sneaking suspicion that there must be an easier way of doing this. I sat down and thought about it for a bit, reasoning that weeds are tough, adaptable and airborne, rather like viruses.
Interestingly enough, that’s exactly how the biodynamic bunch views them. This is what leads to the homeopathic approach, if you’re into New Age, or a vaccination viewpoint if you’re more inclined towards science. First, they believe that weeds are a sign that something is essentially wrong with the soil, just as disease indicates a fault with the body. Western medicine throws chemicals at the body – Eastern medicine figures out what happened in the first place.
If you combine the two, you treat the disease and then stop it happening again by strengthening the body through diet and lifestyle changes. Take garlic, turn orange with vitamin C, exercise more and you’ll never have a cold again, they say. Thistles like compacted soil, so it might be time for a spot of double digging. Docks favour acid soil, so adjusting the PH balance of your ground is a nice idea and your plants will probably be happier too.
But even the healthiest bodies succumb to disease and this is where vaccinations come into play. The theory is that a tiny amount of, say, the flu virus strengthens the antibodies to cope with an attack – the principle of curing like with like. Homeopathy works on the same lines, albeit in a “we waved some plants over this brandy and made it into a pill”, if you’ll pardon my cynicism.
Bio-dynamics encourages the preparation of weed concoctions either by infusion or by burning. You can dump a bunch of weeds in a bucket of water and let them steep until they produce a distilled liquid, which you then spray over the ground. Or, you can burn the weeds into a pile of fine ash, which you then sprinkle on the ground. The theory is that after a full growing season the earth becomes resistant to those particular weeds and you never have to wield a hoe again.
I’d be genuinely interested to know if anyone has ever tried these methods. Did you see any successful results? Or, maybe you just ended up with a plot full of rampant weeds. Do let me know.