ponedeljek, 23. junij 2014

Minutes of the 4th Meeting in Donji Kraljevec/Croatia, 6. - 8. June 2014


Grundtvig Learning Partnership Project

»Adult education strategies in making best compost and treating of manure practices in order to highlight better food quality and reduction of the nutrition losses with regards of social, initiative and entrepreneurship key competencies«

Croatian Project No.: 2013-1-SI1-GRU06-05514 4

Duration: 1. August 2013 to 31. July 2015

Minutes of the 4th Meeting in Donji Kraljevec/Croatia, 6. - 8. June 2014

Partners of the project

  • Germany: Forschungsring für Biologisch-Dynamische Wirtschaftsweise e.V.
  • Denmark: Foreningen for Biodynamisk Jordbrug
  • Croatia: Centar Dr. Rudolfa Steinera
  • Slovenia: Društvo za biološko-dinamično gospodarjenje Podravje.
Day 1

Date: 6. 6. 2014

Present: Uli Johannes König, Erik Frydenlund, Sandra Percač, Jasminka Iličić, Ivan Kosak, Drago Purgaj, Sonja Mauko Purgaj, Danijela Kocuvan, Radovan Šuman, Karl Vogrinčič.

Topic: Biodynamic agriculture today

Location: Donji Kraljevec, Sport Hall

Duration: 18:00 – 21:00


Alex Podolinsky has given a basic lecture on building humus „in situ“ with preparation 500 prepared with compost preparations. He has emphasised the importance of differentiation between organic matter and properly made compost that has colloid structure and provides essential nutrients to plants under the management of Sun. He has also clearly shown the possibility to measure quality of humus in soil with use of chromas. Alex has drawn attention that conventional management of the soil hardens the surface of the soil and makes it lifeless, with no air nor possibility to take in rain. He has suggested that the influence of conventional soil management might be the reason for repetitiveness of flooding in developed countries. The only long term solution for healthy soil is BD management of the soil, with which Alex made fertile thousands of hectares of soil in Australia.

Day 2
Date: 7. 6. 2014
Present: Uli Johannes König, Erik Frydenlund, Sandra Percač, Jasminka Iličić, Ivan Kosak, Drago Purgaj, Sonja Mauko Purgaj, Danijela Kocuvan, Radovan Šuman, Karl Vogrinčič.
Topic: Future of BD agriculture in Croatia, Workshop: Compost preparations
Location: Donji Kraljevec, Sport hall, Rudolf Steiner Center garden
Duration: 10:00 – 20:00
Jasminka Iličić from BD Association „Yarrow“ has given a  short overview of the state of BD growing in Croatia. She has emphasised the problem of low level of knowledge of BD practice in Croatia and challenges that small number of growers determined to practice BD are encountering. She has also emphasised the differences between biodynamic and ecological practise, which is currently disregarded in Croatia. She stated that only through BD practice we can build the compost and manage living, healthy soil.
Making compost preparations
Drago and Uli during both days explained the meaning of the preparations to many participants of this workshops, their influence on the soil and the plants (food). They have presented how the preparations are made. The participants asked a lot of questions about this preparations, Drago and Uli answered them all. The participants also helped with the procedures both days so they were learning by doing it themselves.
Rudolf Steiner's Recommendations in the Agriculture Course
The preparations should be stirred by hand. A machine should not be used. This is because the stirring of preparations is a process as intimately connected with the life of nature as that of seed formation.
Enthusiasm brought to the work strengthens the effectiveness of the preparations, less substance is then needed!
Machinery can be used for spraying; indeed special implements and technology need to be developed for this purpose.
Horn Manure (500)
Horn manure is used to stimulate soil vitality and encourage plants to connect with the specific conditions of their growing site. It also encourages deeper rooting systems, increased earthworm activity and a better retention of soil moisture. It is an ingredient in root dips (used in transplanting), in tree paste (to feed fruit trees) and can be used as a seed bath treatment.
When to use
Horn manure is always applied in the late afternoon or early evening to coincide with the in-breathing cycle of the day. Mild overcast days should be chosen where possible. Heavy rain, high winds and frosty weather should be avoided and during dry sunny spells spraying should be delayed until close to sunset.

It can be used several times during the year. It can be applied to all areas in February and March and also in October or November. It is recommended wherever crops have been sown or transplanted and can be used on grassland after cutting or grazing. Spraying an area three times in succession, with the same stirring, has proved beneficial as have repeated applications during times of drought.

Water Only the best available water should be used. Tap and well water need to stand for a few days before being used. Occasional vigorous stirrings during this time will rid mains water of its chlorine content. Rain water can also be used but if collected from roofs care should be taken to avoid the first (usually polluted) storm waters. Water from tiled roofs is preferable. The water should be heated until it is hand warm (35-38 degrees centigrade) over a wood fire or using a boiler. Where this is impractical, boiling water may be added. Warmed water is important since warmth brings more activity to living processes.

Stirring When the vessel is ready, the preparation can be taken and gently rubbed between thumb and finger in the water to help it dissolve. If a bucket is chosen, stirring may be done with the bare hand or with a stout stick. The method of stirring is important. Stir the water vigorously until a deep crater is formed in the rotating liquid. Then reverse the direction of stirring to create a seething chaotic turbulence before gradually forming a crater in the other direction. Once this is achieved the direction of stirring should again be reversed. This rhythmic process should be continued for an hour. After one full hour the liquid is allowed to settle before being poured through a sieve into a backpack or machine sprayer.

Spraying out

On a garden scale the stirred preparation can be applied with a simple bucket and brush. A hand brush made from natural fibres is best. This allows droplets of water to be sprayed out over the ground. The technique is to walk briskly over the garden or field while rhythmically spraying once to the right and once to the left so as to lightly cover the ground with water droplets.

The application of biodynamic preparations often presents farms with a major challenge - they may have too few staff or inadequate technology. A common response is to consider mechanising the stirring process which apart from adversely affecting the quality of the preparations, does not generally solve the problem. A qualitatively better approach is to optimise the stirring and spraying operations and so enhance the efficiency in applying the preparations. A significant amount of time can be saved by reducing the amount of liquid to be sprayed out. Thus instead of the usual 40-60 litres per hectare it is possible to spray as little as 5-10 litres per hectare. This means that 200 litres of hand stirred preparation could be sprayed on up to 40 hectares.

Date: 8. 6. 2014
Present: Uli Johannes König, Erik Frydenlund, Sandra Percač, Jasminka Iličić, Ivan Kosak, Drago Purgaj, Sonja Mauko Purgaj, Danijela Kocuvan, Radovan Šuman, Karl Vogrinčič.

Topic: Workshop: Compost preparations

Location: Donji Kraljevec, Rudolf Steiner Center garden

Duration: 10:00 – 20:00


Plants used for making biodynamic preparations
The plants used for making biodynamic preparations can be easily grown in the garden or are else readily available as common wild plants many of them occurring in profusion on areas of waste land. Some care is of course needed in these situations to ensure that chemical sprays are not being used and that the ground is not contaminated with industrial waste. It is likewise best to avoid areas close to busy main roads.

Dandelion – Taraxicum officianale
The dandelion is a very common plant that grows in meadows, along wayside verges and in the garden. The flowers are usually collected from the wild although the plants can be specially cultivated. The ideal is to collect the flowers on the biodynamic holding itself. They usually flower between the first week of April and first week of May. The plant may flower at other times but in insufficient quantity for a worthwhile harvest. A grassy area filled with the golden dandelion heads make for an easy and enjoyable harvest.

The flowers should be picked in the morning when the sun is shining as soon as the flowers are open usually after about 10.00. Flower days should be chosen. Cloudy days are no use since the flower heads stay firmly closed. The golden flower heads are picked without the flower stem as soon as they are fully extended but before the central florets have opened. This means that there should be a compact disc of unopened florets in the centre of the flowers. Once fully opened the flowers rapidly form seed and cannot be used.

The flowers can be collected in a bucket but should not be left in it for long since they soon start heating up and spoil. They should be laid out thinly in a warm dry place. A sheet of newspaper laid out on the floor in the house is ideal so long as it is out of direct sunlight. They dry very quickly and can be stored in a paper bag until ready to use. Quick drying (helped by a warm room) means that the flowers retain their colour and do not go to seed.

Stinging Nettle – Urtica dioica
Stinging nettle is present around most human habitations and is a plant with a diversity of uses. For the biodynamic nettle preparation, the plants should be allowed to grow until they come into full flower. The plants are the cut to ground level (no roots) and allowed to wilt in the sun for an hour or two. A hole is then prepared n which to bury the nettles in the garden choosing an open site and good soil.

Because the material will reduce considerably during fermentation, care must be taken to ensure that it can be found again. There are many ways to do this. One effective way is to dig a hole, place a bottomless cardboard box in it and then fill in the gap between box and soil (2

inches) with leaf mould. The nettles are then put inside the box and pressed well down. They are then covered with a layer of leaf mould before covering everything with soil. The preparation is usually made in June. It should stay in the ground for a whole year and is then carefully removed (perhaps half an inch is all that remains) and stored in the preparation store.

Chamomile – Matricaria recutita
Chamomile is a quick growing annual herb that is easily grown in the garden. Plants sown in August and allowed to overwinter produce flowers in early summer. A spring sowing will flower a bit later. The best crop tends to be before midsummer.

Afterwards they can be spoilt by the presence of flower weevils. The plants thrive on poor and fairly compacted soil.

When the plants are in full flower, flower heads can be picked singly and laid out to dry. For picking choose a flower day and a time when the plants are dry. They can also be be picked in the afternoon. It is best to pick the flowers every day as soon as they are fully open. Picking is very time consuming but it is surprising how many can be picked if half an hour is allocated each day. As with dandelion, the flowers should be immediately laid out to dry in a warm place out of direct sunlight. The dried flowers can then be stored in a paper bag until needed.

Horsetail – Equisetum arvense
The biggest challenge with horsetail is finding the right variety. The correct species is the one most frequently found in old gardens or on waste land. It has a creeping underground root system and stems which are more or less hard. This contrasts with the giant horsetail whose stem is hollow. Another unsuitable species is the woodland horsetail which has finely divided fronds.

The whole of the upper part of the plant is harvested (no roots) preferably around midsummer when it is in full growth (a second cut is possible later too). The plants should be laid out in thin layers to dry as soon as possible and should be turned daily. They rapidly start sweating and will turn yellow if not dried quickly enough. Once dried the can be kept in a Hessian or paper sack until needed.

Valerian – Valeriana officianalis
Valerian can be found growing wild in moist areas often along river banks. It is also very easily grown in the garden where it produces a majestic plant up to six foot high. Again it is the flowers which are harvested. Flowering takes place around midsummer. Choose a flower day and harvest in the morning. The majority of the florets should be fully open. Pick the whole head together with all the flower stalks. The harvested flowers should then be processed immediately.

The flowers should be put through a mincer to break up all the cells. They are then tied up inside a piece of old sheet and the juice is squeezed out. A practical way of doing this is to squeeze the pack in a vice and collect up the resulting juice. The juice should then be stored in a bottle with a screw-top lid and kept in a dark and frost free place until needed (for over a year if necessary).

An alternative method is to pack the freshly picked flower heads into a jar, fill it with rain or spring water, screw the lid on and leave it outside in the sun for three weeks. In this time the juice will be extracted into the water. It can then be strained and stored as before. This juice needs to be used fairly quickly (within a few months)

Yarrow – Achillea millefolium
Yarrow can be easily grown in the garden as an attractive perennial plant. It also grows freely throughout the country on dryer banks and wayside verges. Unpolluted areas away from main roads should be chosen. Flowering takes place from mid-summer onwards.

The flower heads are picked as soon as all the florets are open. It doesn't matter if some of the outer ones are already forming seed. Fruit days are recommended for this harvest. The heads can be cut with scissors or plucked off by hand. It is good to take as little of the stalky material as possible. They can also be picked with stalks but these must be removed later once the plants are dry. The flowers are then laid out to dry in a warm place out of direct sunlight and like the other herbs stored in a paper bag.

Oak bark – Quercus robur
Oak bark can be collected from a living oak tree in different ways. One of the simplest methods is to take a surf form and scrape off bark shavings from the surface of the trunk or branch of a tree. It is also possible to break of lumps of bark from a newly felled branch and grind them up into a kind of rough flour. The oak bark can then be stored in a tin until required.

Storage of Compost Preparations
Each of the preparations (apart from valerian) should be placed individually in a container with a loose fitting lid. Unglazed earthenware pots are best but glass jars or ceramic containers will also do. These pots should then be placed in an untreated wooden box and surrounded on all sides with peat. Valerian should be stored in its bottle or another dark glass bottle. It can be kept in the peat box with the other preparations or stored separately in a cool dark place.

The box should be stored under cover in a cool, dark and frost-free place away from the injurious influences of electro-magnetic and microwave radiation (phone masts etc.) as well as other potentially toxic influences. Peat is used because it has the property of being a radiation barrier. Since these preparations work through their radiating power, peat is an ideal material for preventing the dissipation of their properties during storage. When stored in this way the preparations will maintain their vitality for more than a year.

The six compost preparations are used to treat garden compost, manure piles, deep litter beds, liquid manure and slurry. Their purpose is to regulate the many organic processes taking place inside an active compost heap. Each preparation has its own unique function in relation to the various soil nutrient processes. Working together they help to bring harmony, balance and stability to the soil.

Croatian Project No.: 2013-1-SI1-GRU06-05514 4
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This publication reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Rudolf Steiner Center garden, Donji Kraljevec

Alex Padolinsky
Rudolf Steiner Center garden, Donji Kraljevec

Partners of the project at Donji Kraljevec

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