Culture and Horticulture
The Classic Guide to Biodynamic and Organic Gardening.
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Various studies have shown time and again that small organic farms and home gardens can produce more food per acre with less fossil energy than large-scale commercial agricultural installations that are dependent on machines and toxic chemical fertilizers and pesticides. In this book, I detail how food is grown holistically by traditional communities around the world and show how to apply their ancient wisdom to our own gardens.
With interest in natural, sustainable, organic and local food at an all-time high, people are looking beyond their farmers markets and CSA cooperatives to hyperlocal ways of growing healthy, delicious produce in urban gardens and their own backyards. Culture and Horticulture details time-tested methods that are as effective today as they were hundreds of years ago. Out of my own gardening experience and on the practical front, the book works as a manual for creating and maintaining a bountiful harvest. It explains how to build the soil to maintain fertility; how to produce compost; how to plant, sow, and tend the various fruit and vegetable plants; how to rotate crops and practice companion planting; how to set up a favorable microclimate; how to deal with so-called weeds and pests; how to harvest at the right time; and how to store vegetables and herbs. Special emphasis is given to the art and science of composting, the compost being the “heart“ of any self-sufficient garden and a model for the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.
At the same time the I introduce the reader to the wider aspects of horticulture, to its historical, philosophical, and cosmological contexts and social relevance. Gardening is a cultural activity, influenced by peoples‘ thoughts, wishes, and needs as well as by their cultural traditions. As an anthropologist, I have investigated the gardening practices of indigenous people throughout the world and have also worked for many years on biodynamic farms and in my own vegetable garden. My writing is based on experience. I also introduce readers to Rudolf Steiner’s vision of the garden as an organic unit, embedded in the context of terrestrial and cosmic forces. I explain the importance of cosmic rhythms (solar, lunar, and planetary), the role of biodynamic herbal preparations as “medicines” for the garden organism, and the so-called “etheric” and “astral” forces. The book presents a vision of the garden as seen through the eyes of “Goethean science,” a magical place where alchemical transformations of material substances take place.