Monday, April 16, 2007

The Manresa Biodynamic Garden

In early November last year, David Kinch and Cynthia Sandberg mixed their first biodynamic preparation of cow manure packed in cow horns, commonly called preparation #500 by biodynamic farmers, and buried them in the ground for six months, as prescribed by biodynamic farming principles established by Rudolf Steiner in 1924. Soon they will unearth the horns and mix the contents with water to make a liquid, which will be applied to the soil to stimulate root growth and humus formation, among many of the benefits of the #500 preparation.

Now that spring is here, David and Cynthia will undertake a process similar to making preparation #500. Once again they will bury cow horns, but they will pack the horns with ground quartz (silica) mixed with pond water or rainwater. After being buried in the ground for six months, the cow horns are retrieved and a liquid preparation is made to spray on the plant foliage in order to stimulate and regulate growth. This preparation is called #501, and it also influences the color, aroma, and flavor of the crop.

David Kinch and Cynthia Sandberg make preparation #500 with manure and cow horns.

David and Cynthia combined forces more than a year ago in order to satisfy David's quest for the best tasting vegetables to serve at Manresa, and as a way for Cynthia to expand her thriving organic farm at Love Apple Farm in Ben Lomond. Cynthia now grows all of her vegetables, herbs and fruit exclusively for Manresa and is working toward supplying 100% of Manresa's produce. To learn more about biodynamic farming, Cynthia recommends visiting the website for the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.

Now that the soil is warming up, summer vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, squashes, melons, basils, and beans are being transplanted to the outdoor garden from the hoophouse, a 64-foot Quonset-style growing house where plants are started early in the season. Cynthia will soon be sowing corn, carrots, turnips, radishes, beets, lettuces and a myriad of exotic vegetable seeds imported from Europe. And new to the farm is a small vineyard for growing table grapes, which Cynthia researched extensively to select the best tasting varietals.

Summer vegetables are transplanted from the hoophouse to the outdoor garden.

Love Apple Farm is known for offering for sale a hundred different varieties of heirloom tomato plants each spring. People from all over California come to these weekend sales. This is a delightful way for interested persons to view Manresa's kitchen garden, normally closed to the public. Tomato plant sales usually last until mid-May.
Photos courtesy of Chez Pim