Mix and match the elements around you, for instance if you have a wooden table complement it with a silver candelabra. Natural materials like granite, stone or wood work well together. Use natural white and cream cottons on beds. You can drape bedspreads over the top for added beauty and comfort. Remove heavy carpets and replace them with wooden flooring and warm rugs.
Use wardrobes with mirrors to create space but don’t sleep in front of one as it’s considered bad luck. You can hang mirrors to create the illusion of space especially in a small box room or dark areas of the house. But make sure you don’t hang one over your bed, as this will disturb your rest. An excellent place to hang a mirror is above your dinning room table, especially when you have food laid out. It doubles the effect and attracts good vibrations.
“A divine universal plan exists and… it is beautiful and full of joy.”
Just when you’ve got your green fingers’ around gardening organi cally, along comes biodynamic gardening to challenge your garden ing prowess – or even your beliefs.
Are you passionate enough to sow your carrots when the moon passes through the earth’ constellation of Taurus? Or hoe your lettuces when the moon passes through Pisces to allow the cosmic forces of this water’ constellation to enter the soil?
According to Bernard Jarman. Executive Director of the Biodynamic Association UK, ‘Biodynamics is a unique organic approach that takes into account, not only the fine ecological and living aspects of the earth, but also its wider cosmic and spiritual context.
Biodynamic Gardening Photo Gallery
Biodynamic gardening practises all the organic techniques such as composting and green manuring for fertility, companion planting to encourage wildlife and species diversity, as well as the strict ban on pesticides and chemicals. It also uses a sowing and planting calendar (produced each year by the Biodynamic Association) to determine the correct times to plant, hoe, water, fertilise and harvest plants while taking into consideration what a plant is grown for: its roots, leaves, fruit, seeds or flowers.
The calendar is based on the moon and its passage through the 12 zodiac constellations each month. Constellations are grouped into four element types: air, fire, water and earth. When the season is right and the moon passes through Virgo (earth), it’s time to plant root crops such as carrots, parsnips or beetroot. When the moon passes through Leo (fire), fruit and seed crops such as tomatoes and cucumbers can be hoed to allow the warming cosmic forces of Leo to be transmitted to the soil.
The calendar also advises auspicious times to harvest according to whether the moon is ascending or descending. Maria Thun, author of Gardening for Life the Biodynamic Way (Hawthorn Press) says, A descending moon draws sap-flow and vitality downwards – a good time to harvest root crops, whereas an ascending moon draws vitality upwards – a time to harvest fruits and seeds.’
Special preparations are an integral part of biodynamic gardening. There are six compost preparations to aid the formation of humus: two file preparations to aid root, leaf and fruit formation; and a cow-pat preparation that is used for soil activation. As these can be purchased from the Biodynamic Association there’s no need to panic about making your own just yet! John and Kateea Pullen, who have been practising biodynamics for many years, love using the moon and the stars to guide them with their crops. Initially they were daunted by the calendar, but they took things slowly. Karen explains, If we missed an ’auspicious’ date, we waited for days for the moon to travel into a similar constellation and tried again.
If it all sounds a bit airy-fairy, think of the power the moon has on the tide. Why wouldn’t the cosmos affect plant growth? Add to this the many years of research carried out by the Biodynamic Association and you’ll understand why biodynamic gardening is losing its hippy labelling and entering mainstream gardening.
Permaculture, a word derived from permanent agriculture, is more of a design philosophy than a set of rules. It applies to our everyday lives transport, energy, water use. time management, building design and gardening. Patrick Whitefield, author of The Earth Care Manual – A Permaculture Handbook for Britain and Other Temperate Climates (Permanent Publications) explains, ‘The central aim of Permaculture is to reduce our ecological impact. It’s a way of living more sustainably by putting maximum effort into the initial design of a system so as to save unnecessary effort once the system is in process. For example I have herbs growing on my kitchen windowsill (initial design) as I use them every day in cooking. If they were in the garden, it would mean a longer walk each day to pick them (unnecessary effort). I also buy perennial plants (initial design) as this eliminates the effort of having to plant the following year (unnecessary effort) – unlike annuals.’
While travelling through New Zealand, I toured Joe Pallatios’ Rainbow Valley Farm which runs on permaculture principles. He grows grapes up pagodas beside the house to provide shade in the summer. In winter the leaves fall, allowing the sun to warm the house. He also has an outdoor sink in his vegetable patch to wash harvested vegetables, and soil is returned to the ground and the pond below creates a habitat for wildlife.
What works for you may not work for your neighbour. Permaculture design is specific to your requirements, which is why permaculture is a design philosophy – a set of principles to apply in your situation. The design ideas are endless and can be daunting, as we may not feel we re doing enough, or we may get cross at our neighbours’ use of pesticides, but as Patrick Whitefield so fantastically puts it, AH we can do in life is to make sure we play our own part in the best we can. It’s about making changes in our own lifestyle rather than demanding others do it for us. It’s about being part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.’
We assume that ageing is a natural part of getting older. The familiar list of ailments including fatigue, loss of skin elasticity and muscle tone, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and cancer are accepted as inevitable because most of us in the western world succumb to such conditions at some point in our lives. Interestingly however, it is coming to light that these conditions may stem from one simple factor – an overly acidic body – and that this can be avoided. Far from being natural, this overly-acidic state is a by-product of our unnatural western diet and lifestyle. For our bodies to function properly they need life-giving nutrients and oxygen from the bloodstream. At the same time they need to release acidic cellular waste, and this process can only take place when the pH of the blood is slightly alkaline. Further, the body will do whatever it takes to maintain this alkalinity.