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Welcome to Gardens to Tables Gardening Tips Fruits & Vegetables Using Biodynamics in the Home Garden
Using Biodynamics in the Home Garden Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Jeff Dawson of UbuntuJeff Dawson is the master gardener and creator of the biodynamic gardens for Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio in Napa, California. Considered a “biodynamic guru,” Dawson also established the gardens at Fetzer Vineyards and Kendall Jackson Vineyards and served as the Curator of Gardens for Copia, the American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts.

Here he helps us understand just what biodynamics is and how it can be used in the home or community garden:

Q: What is biodynamics and can people practice it at home?

A: Biodynamics is a complex subject and practice. It requires a specific set of preparations, including composting and creating specific fertilizers. It also encompassed crushing up crystal and mixing it into the animal dung. This is because the crystal brings in heat and light to the plants. All in all, it is not something the average person can practice at home.

Q: Is there any single part of biodynamics that people can practice at home?

A: Yes, there is one small part called “gardening by the moon” but it takes a lot of skill with timing and consistency. “Gardening by the moon” is based on calendars. There are 12 constellations broken up into four parts -- fire, earth, water and air signs. With biodynamic gardening, you cultivate and harvest in accordance of these moons. Earth=roots/soil, Water=leaves, Air=flowers, and Fire=fruit. So, if you were looking to cultivate soil, you would want to do so during the Earth moon. Moon signs, contrary to popular astrological belief, last about 2 ˝ days. If you were to plant beets two days before the full moon they would come out instantly as they would be drawn up through something we call “suctional force.”

Q: What are some things then people can practice on their own in the form of an organic garden? What are some things they should keep in mind?

A: The first and most important thing is to pay attention to your soil! Many people start their gardens with soil that is of poor quality. Gardeners should always buy organic soil. It is also important to start out with good plants. You can buy in some places what are called “organic starts” that are already prepped organic. You will typically not find these, for example, at a Home Depot or Lowes. You will also need well-balanced organic fertilizer.

Q: What are some plants that are easy to grow for beginners?

A: Greens such as lettuce and arugula are always easy and can grow in a barrel or large pot. Tomatoes, eggplants and peppers also work well.

Q: What are some things that are not as easy to grow?

A: Things that are viney can be tricky to grow, such as melons, cucumbers and squash. These would lend themselves to a garden that is larger with a larger plot of land.

Q: What are some other things to keep in mind?

A: Pest control. So as not to use inorganic, harmful, pesticides, there are two organic alternatives I would suggest:

Insecticidal Soap: This is a soap product that you spray on the plants and it suffocated the bugs

“Neem Tree” oil- a tree that produces an oil that has insecticidal properties

For more information, visit or the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association at

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