.....by Melvin D. Saunders
........The use of pesticides has gone up 10 times since World War II, but damage to crops by insect pests has doubled. Do poisonous pesticides weaken a plant's resistance to pests and make it less nutritious to insects? Think about it. If a crop is less nutritious, an insect must eat more of it to maintain its same growth rate. Just as a healthy person resists disease better, properly nourished crops resist pests more effectively.
........Are residual amounts of deadly pesticides on fruits and vegetables harmful for humans to ingest? Since your body responds quite dramatically to only scant amounts of its own bodily chemicals, why can't trace amounts of poisonous pesticides disrupt the bodily system too, especially in accumulative amounts? Even the absence of one trace element in the bodily system can produce disastrous results.
........Biodynamic farming was spawned by the late anthroposophist, Rudolf Steiner, and has grown and developed in popularity since 1922. The term biodynamic is taken from the Greek words bios meaning life and dynamis meaning energy. Hence biodynamic farming refers to "working with the energies which create and maintain life." By sidestepping the typical preconception that light makes chlorophyll plants grow, biodynamic farmers realize that other energies contribute to a plant's growth. Because of the differences in these contributing energies, planting your crop one day will be totally different than planting it another day. In fact, planting during certain days of the moon cycle is important.
........Biodynamic farming is not easily learned from a textbook, but rather it is better "sensed" through "experiencing" it. Hence, an enthusiast can best learn biodynamics through observation and feedback from an already practicing biodynamic farmer. For example, instead of indiscriminate distribution of vast quantities of compost and organic materials over the soil, the correct disposition of specific quantities of specific qualities of organics can better maximize your crop's potential more effectively. It is far more complex than just planting crops organically. There is an integrated relationship between plant, animal and soil that must be understood.
........Largely through the efforts of Alan Chadwick and John Jeavons, biodynamic/French intensive gardening has slowly gained a reputation among organic gardeners in North America. Striving to produce the optimum yield in the smallest possible space, John Jeavons (author of How To Grow More Vegetables - 1979) has produced nothing less than amazing results. His per acre production has often been 4 to 6 times that of the average U.S. yield, and all without pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Biodynamic gardens waste little space for walkways, and often use raised beds that are 4 to 10 inches high and 5 feet wide. Moreover, the beds are "double dug" to a depth of 2 feet to give plant roots a cushion of well worked soil ash, bone meal and compost. Plants are arranged so that each mature vegetable leaf will just barely touch the leaves of its neighbors, creating a leafy cover. This "living mulch" keeps weeds down and helps to moderate soil temperature and improve water retention. Companion gardening is also important so that certain vegetables, flowers and herbs can mutually benefit each other in eliminating each other's pests and influencing the quality of each other's taste.
........Biodynamic farming involves restoring to the soil a balanced living condition through the application and use of the completely digested form of crude organic matter known as stabilized humus. Crop rotation, correct composting and proper intercropping can all contribute to a healthier biodynamic yield. If you have ever tasted the sweet flavor of biodynamically grown spinach leaves, you'll be startled at the difference that this form of organic gardening produces. For a list of apprenticeship opportunities and staff openings on biodynamic farms, write: Bio-Dynamic Farming & Gardening Association, Inc., P.O. Box 550, Kimberton, PA 19442 or Applied Bio-Dynamics, Inc., P.O. Box 133, Woolwine, Va 24185-0133.
........ New things usually cost more in the beginning. Consequently, organic vegetables cost more now. With higher demand and larger production though, consumer costs can be driven way down. To keep abreast of all the many developments in biodynamic and organic farming, Acres, U.S.A., (P.O. Box 91299, Austin, TX 78709) is a monthly newspaper that gives its readers facts, figures and numerous exposes revealing the true reasons behind chemical farming.
........The above subject is just one of the many creative alternatives mentioned in the new manual, Creative Alternatives For A Changing World.
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