Goodness what a two weeks of such varied weathers! A heat wave became cold and grey, with low cloud hanging over us like a weighted blanket, and now, warm wild winds and buckets of rain. How do we keep up? 

While it was still sub-tropical, we found the perfect day for a whole farm application of biodynamic silica spray 501. This spray is one of two main sprays used in biodynamic farming. Unlike the compost spray 500 which stimulates soil microbial activity and the production of humus, 501 is for the plants. Made from ground quartz crystals, it works to strengthen the plants, give them greater suppleness, strengthen photosynthesis and enhance ripening. It is also important in helping to maximise the quality of the crop, be it grass, grains or grapes, enhancing flavour, aroma and nutritional quality. It is best sprayed at sunrise on a sunny day, with little or no wind. The weather gods bless us with the perfect morning, so at 5.30am preparations begin so that spraying can start at sunrise.  

The animals were of course most curious as to what was going on in their fields so early in the morning, and there was much mooing amongst the young cattle, and bleeting from the sheep. The suckler herd of cattle are more laid back although, still curious, including the new arrival, a little bull calf. All done by 9.30am, it was back home for a large and well earnt breakfast! 

Thistles – the farm has such a crop of them. If we could sell them, we would be rich. The animals don’t touch them, but who would want to eat such prickly leaves – apart from Eeyore perhaps. They are attractive to a range of insects, but we still don’t need so many. There is a theory that plants such as thistles, are indicators of your soil’s health. Soil contains thousands of seeds, and which ones germinate can show e.g., poor fertility, or an imbalance. These plants are known as “dynamic accumulators”, which means they draw up nutrients, such as copper and calcium with their deep roots, and make them available in the soil. These plants are helping to correct that deficiency. However, there’s no scientific evidence to prove/disprove this theory. Another theory is that the soil has all the nutrients, but the right soil organisms are needed to unlock them and make them available to all plants. Whichever is correct, or maybe there is another answer altogether, a healthy soil web is absolutely essential, and it is what the biodynamic compost sprays are all about. While we work on the soil for long term good health, in the short term, the best way to control the thistles is mowing or topping the plants before they go to seed. Man the tractors!  

The Equinox on the 21st reminds us we are heading towards the winter, ready or not, however, we are trying not to mind the fact it is getting later earlier too much – the leaves are turning and beautiful, the apples are ripening in time for being used for delicious puddings, and the Michaelmas daisies are looking splendid.  

September by Lucy Maud Montgomery 

Lo! a ripe sheaf of many golden days
Gleaned by the year in autumn’s harvest ways,
With here and there, blood-tinted as an ember,
Some crimson poppy of a late delight
Atoning in its splendor for the flight
Of summer blooms and joys­
This is September. 

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