February 2017 II: treating the soil with dynamised Horn Manure

This year, I have started to use Biodynamic Preparations on my no-dig garden. Yesterday, February 21st, I applied Horn Manure to the garden, the fruit cage and the apple trees for the first time.

A small amount of the Horn Manure preparation (which I purchase from the British Biodynamic Association) is added to a small barrel of rainwater. This is then stirred until the water reaches a vortex, before changing the direction of stirring until a vortex is created in the opposite direction. You keep on doing this for one hour, a true labour of love.

I chose to use my copper dibber from Implementations, as its length and handle size were suitable. No doubt others use other things.

To relieve the boredom during this, I decided to study the water at the change of direction and noticed three things:

  1. A lot of air bubbles are created immediately after the direction change occurs.
  2. It takes about 15 seconds for the vortex to be created in the opposite direction.
  3. Setting a timetable of 60 seconds stirring in each direction added wholesome discipline to the proceedings, as well as providing a counter to reach the hour (30 stirring pairs to complete).

I then used a small brush and a pail to flick the water over the ground and the trees. Each pail just about covered the whole area once and I repeated three times. The whole thing is a bit of an act of faith, so we shall see what happens this season as a result of my labours.

The online community suggests applying Horn Manure ‘on an overcast afternoon when the soil is damp’. I was lucky that these were exactly the conditions I found on February 21st 2017, so there are no excuses for it not doing whatever magic it is supposed to do!

Author: Rhys

Rhys trained as a research biologist, working for a decade in the cancer research charity sector, before completing an MBA and working in management consultancy, technology transfer and early technology investment spaces, mostly working with UK academics to turn their scientific discoveries into value for society. AS a younger man, he was fascinated with mountains, both climbing them and ski-ing down them. Whilst living in Scotland, he completed a round of (then) all 277 Munros, the independent mountains over 3000ft originally complied as a list by Munro. He also spent his holidays representing the Ski Club of GB, as a Representative and Party Leader between 1990 and 1997. During that time, he found to his bemusement that he was able to predict, without understanding fully why, to a remarkable degree of accuracy, when good snow conditions would occur in the Alps, gaining an unworthy reputation for predictive genius in 1990 when predicting the evolution of the 1989/90 winter in Wengen, Switzerland for his CEO boss. He used this skill for the next seven years to ensure that he enjoyed powder snow pretty much every time he went ski-ing. An MD student he was training in Oxford also impressed his wife by taking Rhys' advice about when to take her to Italy in the mid 1990s! In recent years, Rhys has turned his mind toward how to grow prize tomatoes, winning several prizes in local and London shows and has, in the past 3 years, moved toward taking over a 50 square metre urban vegetable patch, which he has turned into a no-dig area since autumn 2014.

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