We see a lot of value in biodynamic farming principles, although we don’t practice most of them. However, one tool created in the biodynamic world that we do use is the Stella Natura Calendar. This calendar is based on research conducted by a German woman named Maria Thun over a 60 year period. Her research charted the germination and growth of many plant varieties dependent on influences from the moon, stars and planets and all their constantly changing interactions. I don’t begin to follow the astrology behind it all, but the beauty of the calendar is that it is all translated for you. Basically the research showed that different astrological configurations had influence over different parts of plants (roots, fruits, leaves, flowers). Some hours of some days are better for starting seeds of plants where the root is dominant (carrots), other days are better for flowers, other days for leaves (lettuce, cabbage), and some for fruits (peppers, tomatoes, apples). Some periods of astrological transition are not great for sowing anything- we personally call these gray days. Research looked at astrological influences on not only seed germination but also nutrition, ability to store, taste, and disease resistance.
So, this sounds very complicated and a little whacky. The calendar makes it pretty easy and clear as to when to plant leaf, fruit, root or flower things. The complicated part is making that work to your schedule. There are times when it isn’t practical- something just has to get planted because of the weather or other time constraints, but in general we do try to honor it. A major exception is in our sprout seeding schedule because it is such a specific and tight weekly routine (but we do see negative impacts of not following the calendar showing up in our sprout yields at times). For most of our seeding we have an idea of a date we’d like to plant on (say early March for tomatoes) we then look at the calendar and see that there is a few day window in early March that are fruit days, so we plan to seed in that period. Throughout the season we also try to transplant and weed plants according to the appropriate calendar days. For harvesting crops we generally don’t follow the calendar accept for storage crops that are picked all at once such as winter squash. We also try to do any foliar spraying or fertilizing according to calendar days. Though it sounds crazy, following the calendar actually helps focus your work. In the growing season on any given day there are hundreds of things you could do, but if the calendar says it is a root day- it helps limit your possibilities and you know your focus can be on all the carrots, onions, beets, etc. and you’ll get to the raspberries and tomatoes on another day.
As for the whacky accusations- who knows if cosmic forces are really making a difference in your carrot yield. Certainly many millions of people have had successful gardens throughout the ages without this calendar. However, it is clear that the moon, sun and planets have significant influences on water movement on Earth. Most living creatures are made of a lot of water, including us. At the very least cosmic forces are having effect on water movement in plants, and it is not hard to imagine that other energetic forces that we don’t fully understand yet may also be influencing a plant’s life. We think the potential benefits of following the calendar outweigh the inconvenience, and actually like how it helps structure our days.