biodynamics

Become a Biodynamic Gardener, and grow your own. Learn about “the buddy system” and “companion plantings” as well as composting and crop rotation. Certain plants benefit by growing near other plants: tall crops can provide a canopy for shorter crops; leeks will repel carrot flies; include flowering herbs and perennials to attract beneficial insects. 

Illustration:  Genevieve Simms 

flickr

Untitled by Gabriela Tulian
Via Flickr:

anonymous asked:

Where do herb correspondences come from? People love to reference Scott Cunningham's book on herbs, but he never explains why this herb means this or that one means that. Where does this information come from?

Historically, most metaphysical herb correspondences come from something about the herb itself: its medicinal application, appearance, common locations, relationship with wildlife, etc.

St. John’s wort, for example, has a bright yellow, sunny appearance, and its metaphysical associations include the sun, masculinity, Midsummer’s Eve, and protection against witches and the fae.  Nettles are popular for protection, for obvious reasons.  I sometimes carefully use pennyroyal for certain kinds of protection as well, which is highly toxic and was used as an abortifacient in the medieval era.  (Pennyroyal is seriously toxic; never ingest and keep away from children and pets Always, always do your research before handling and using any herbs.)  Valerian is one of the best herbal sleeping aids and so shows up in a lot of sleep-based spells.  In Irish folklore, gorse is associated with wealth because of its small golden flowers.

In all honesty, I would take Cunningham’s work with a grain of salt.  It’s been criticized as being ‘not bad’ but still definitely flawed, and it disagrees with some of the energies and associations I’ve found to be most effective with my own practices, as it has with other people’s.

Nicholas Culpeper’s Complete Herbal, a 17th-century compendium of English herbalism, is interesting in how it combines astrology, sympathetic magic, and legitimately empirical medicine – although, like many medicinal texts of that era, some of the recipes are poisonous, so, like, keep away from the mercury, please.  Using astrology is based on the idea that heavenly bodies emit unique energies that influence the world and its inhabitants in various ways.  Some contemporary organic farms are engaged in biodynamic farming, which operates on some of these principles with the idea that it brings out and preserves the greatest potential of the produce.

Green witchcraft and sometimes cottage witchcraft are probably the types that use herbs in magic the most, so those would be good practices to check out if you haven’t already.

(Please forgive my rambling – I used to work at an herbal healing business and I get really excited about it.)

- mountain hound

2013 Jauma “Alessa” Shiraz

Feeling pretty coy with this biodynamic Shiraz out of McLaren Vale in Australia. Amazing that this wine leads with kalamata olives and tapenade on the nose. Black raspberries, violets, and earth are almost secondary aromas. More kalamata olives on the palate with dark spices and a cherry finish. Tart acidity to keep it fresh. Enjoy with a lamb tagine! A bit expensive, but interesting stuff!

3/5 bones

$$$

Shiraz

12.6% abv

McLaren Vale, AUSTRALIA

Why everyone should use wine bags this summer

Like a boxed wine without the ugly cardboard, a wine bag is the perfect way to keep the picnic fun flowing.

Just ask Tom Craven, who started Vinnaturo in 2013. He sources organic, biodynamic and unmanipulated ‘natural’ wines made by small growers from across Europe, then transports them to the UK in bags, as well as kegs and BIBs (bags in boxes). ‘Using this kind of packaging for wines, instead of heavy glass bottles, makes a lot of sense,’ he says. ‘It can reduce C02 emissions generated through transport by 80 per cent, and also reduce the final retail price of the wine by 30 per cent.’

Thus Vinnaturo can offer eight different wines in 1.5l bags — equal to two bottles — at £20 a pop (or squeeze), from organic Cabernet Franc to biodynamic Sangiovese Rosé. In addition, a tap fixed to the outside of the bag enables you to pour with minimal oxygen entering and contaminating the wine left inside, so it lasts longer. Craven explains that ‘you can put any kind of wine in a box, bag or keg. I supply young, fresh wines, but also some more complex, older wines’. And bagged wine is not just ethical and convenient for park picnics — Vinnaturo’s juice tastes pretty good too, which is why it’s served at wine-centric restaurants from Ducksoup to Primeur, and is the only wine Chick ’n’ Sours has on the menu.

Arguably the real bagged wine king, though, is Andrew Nielsen of Le Grappin. Like any good bag designer, he has given his haute 1.5l pouch a name: the ‘bagnum’. Like Craven, he detested the waste and carbon emissions from importing wine. Now he sources small wine producers (particularly favouring Burgundy) and fills his bagnums ready to be brought to the UK with minimal carbon emissions. And again, this is without any detriment to the taste — Le Grappin has been saluted by no less a wine maven than Jancis Robinson. Slurp his stuff everywhere from Noble Rot to Llewelyn’s in Herne Hill, where Nielsen can also be found at the Sunday market. Perfect for Brockwell Park boozing.

Until wine bags filter down to the high street, there are other brilliant independent importers keeping their wines sustainably boxed. Take When in Rome. Because making and recycling glass uses so much energy (more than 4kWh per bottle — enough to power your TV for a month), it has switched to bag-in-box. But while the bag inside a 2.25l BIB of When in Rome’s rich Barbera (£27) can be recycled in Italy, it’s not yet possible in the UK. According to its website, that’s because: ‘We don’t drink enough box wine.’ A call to arms if ever there was one.