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PDC Blog: Day 10

Jump to: Mapping practical, Finding focus through games, and Planting the swales

Our morning’s lecture began with a discussion of biodynamic literature and the relationship of the sun and the moon. We all acknowledge that the moon affects tides, so it should be apparent that it affects crops right?

In biodynamics, the moon is believed to have different effects on the earth at each of its phases. The moon’s cycles (ascending or descending) also affect plants in different ways. The main reasoning for using a Lunar Calendar is to use the moon’s energy to help plants grow faster and give better yields. Seeds, for example, are always planted when the moon is in a descending phase.

The 12 zodiac signs are divided into four parts, one for each part of the plant (root, leaf, flower and fruit).

Journalist Max Allen explains that biodynamic farmers follow their Lunar calendar as closely as possible, timing their activities according to whether it’s a fruit day (moon in fire sign such as Leo – good for picking grapes), root day (moon in an earth sign such as Taurus, good for making compost and spraying BD 500), leaf day (water sign, Scorpio) or flower day (air, Aquarius).

Visit his site red, white and green.

Mapping Practical

Then it was time for our practical, which was mapping a design. We split up into groups of two, and I was paired up with Ervert. We decided to create a Permaculture Design for Ervert’s farm. Building on his current farm, we planned to utilise truffles, create additional income with our bee hives and use Biogas to meet our energy needs.

We also designed a new eco-home, and discussed how we could create a food forest. We created a 3D model of our design, using whatever materials we could find including rocks, wire, plants and leaves.

Mapping on paper

After which we had to map our design using a plain card and two sheets of tracing paper. Basically, on the bottom sheet (the plain card) you draw what is actually there, and can’t be moved (eg. Mountains, houses). The second sheet portrays your plan of how things are going to work. The top tracing paper depicts your orientation as well as all the services that can’t change (such as roads, wind, security, water, electricity, access points).


PDC Group teams up for mapping exercise

The most frustrating part of the entire course, mapping proved to be a challenging task for our 2-man team! However, Sharon and Sebastian, the graphic designers on the course, had no such issues and produced a beautiful map which accurately portrayed their 3D model. We later learnt that there is a programme called Google Sketch Up, which you can use for this (and of course Google Earth helps too).

Finding focus through games

After lunch, it was time for a game. We all had to close our eyes, and Avice popped something in our mouth. We felt the texture, rolling it in our mouth and feeling its ridges and crevices. I have to admit I had absolutely no idea what was in my mouth! It was an unsettling experience, it had no taste and felt a bit like some kind of plastic. But I knew Avice wouldn’t have used something manmade so I was perplexed.

Meanwhile, all around me the rest of the group was making that “aha” sound of recognition, while I was still utterly clueless, and getting a bit queasy. Having a (foreign) object in your mouth, unable to taste anything is not a pleasant experience. Eventually I chewed it and it released the vaguest raisin flavour.

It turned out that we’d all been given raisins, but that they were slightly stale, thus had mostly lost their flavour. However disturbing, it was an effective way of getting us to truly focus, to be present in that moment and really feel without seeing and tasting.

We then had to draw a picture of what the experience was like. I drew something which made absolutely no sense, which was exactly how I’d felt at the time!

PDC group drawings

Planting the swales

We then went to do some planting at the agricultural swales, which will be used for animal fodder. We get a tray of seedlings from the nursery with dynamic accumulators ready to plant on the edge.

Seedlings ready for planting

Like we'd done for Andrew's swales, we start digging holes to plant the fruit trees, and soak them in water to get the water flow right down past the roots. We add compost, topsoil (from the swales) and bone meal, before starting to plant the fruit trees.

Cutting the plastic off the tree, we plant them to the north to ensure they get the most sun. Placing cardboard around the tree, and more mulch so it holds the cardboard, we put thatch on top and rocks to hold it down. This protects it from grass growing, keeps light out and the moisture in.

Digging holes, ready for trees to be planted

Planting trees around swale


Meanwhile, the rest of us plant the dynamic accumulators on the edges, and the end result of all our hard work is impressive.

The swale, fully planted

And that was it for that day, we had some time to freshen up for dinner, which was a light meal consisting of a tasty vegetable and potato soup.

We lingered at the table talking for ages. We’d formed quite a tight-knit group, and I was beginning to feel that the course was coming to an end, and felt desperate to cling to it for as long as possible!

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