The main differences between bio-dynamic and organic methods is that in BD gardening we take account of the cosmic influences. The earth is on the downward path of dying and is being so abused that it needs more positive help than merely avoiding the use of chemical fertilizers and herbicides and reverting to older, traditional methods. These are good as far as they go, but in order to enliven the declining forces of nature, an intelligent use of the BD preparations brings new possibilities to farmers and gardeners.

One of the fundamental ideas underlying the BD approach is that this earth of ours is a living organism in its own right. The earth breathes, it has a circulatory system, it has a pulse, it is sensitive and it has a skin. It breathes out during the morning hours, in during the afternoon and rests during the night. Its circulatory system is provided by the water cycle as it evaporates from oceans and lakes, returns as rain and flows back to the seas through river systems and underground streams. Like blood in an animal or sap in a plant, substances are brought in solution to where they are needed and waste products are carried away for recycling. The changing seasons act as a kind of pulse; during spring and summer in the northern hemisphere there is an outpouring, an expansive process, while at the same time in the southern hemisphere the contractive forces of autumn and winter are operating; and then the roles are reversed. Then it does not need much imagination to see the soil/plant complex of the earth as a skin; everybody will have noticed how rapidly wounds caused by cuttings or landslides are healed by a plant covering. This complex also acts as a sense organ, telling the earth what is coming in from the cosmos, and by the nature of the vegetation telling the cosmos what is going on at any particular place on the earth's face.

In all garden work it is helpful to try to plan one's tasks in accordance with the daily expansion/contraction rhythm of the earth. Weather conditions and other factors may make this impossible on various occasions, but nevertheless as an acquired habit it will lead towards a closer and more rewarding relationship with the plant world.

For example, the outpouring morning period is the best time for harvesting leaf vegetables and flowers, especially any that are to be dried for herbal purposes: at this time also seedlings and other plants ready to be transplanted can be lifted and put away till evening in a cool shady place. Afternoon and evenings are better for sowing seeds, planting out transplants and for harvesting roots.

Another factor of major importance to the understanding of BD practices is the idea that the material substances in a living organism are not the same condition as similar substances in chemical laboratory.

In BD gardening we will use BD preparations. They fall into two categories. Two are of a general nature and six are for treating compost and manure. Their main purpose is to stimulate and enhance the supersensible forces and influences working in the earth. The methods of making them are fully described by Rudolf Steiner.

Extract of the Foreword to the Second Edition of John Soper's book. Bio-dynamic Gardening. Included here with permission of the publishers:
Souvenir Press Ltd
43 Great Russell Street
London WC1 3PA

Bio-dynamic Gardening, John Soper, ISBN 0-285-63279-5
Copies available from bookshops, and .

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