I recently attended one of my favorite gatherings: the Biodynamic Association of Northern California (BDANC) winter meeting. The meeting was at the Frey Ranch in Redwood Valley, which is a phenomenon in itself — about 1,000 acres complete with biodynamic vineyards and organic winery, olive trees, organic gardens, chicken and other poultry farming, and of course abundant solar energy.
The best thing about the Frey Ranch is the warm afterglow that everyone gets from being there. The BDANC meeting recharged my farming batteries! I had great conversations with dozens of committed biodynamic farmers, presentations by four inspirational farmers in their 20s, and the incredible ‘biodynamic farmer’s’ potluck — always a real highlight. I’m not talking pasta salads here! These farmers bring the fruits of their labors — home-fermented sauerkraut and beet kavass, olives and handmade olive oil, kefir kept going for many generations thru kefir starter from Russia, and last fall’s harvest of nuts, canned fruit and vegetables.
All this really worked up my appetite for this year’s growing season. The time to start planting is rapidly approaching, and I can’t wait! (This will be our second year of starting all of our own vegetables in our greenhouse.)
Here are a few tips to help get your garden off to a great start:
- Now’s the time to order seeds (if you haven’t saved them) and get your compost mixes together.
- Get outside if you have any sunny days over the next month, and check out your soil (if it’s dry enough) to assess how much amending it may need this year.
- Amend your soil with compost. The best compost mix is one part homemade compost (biodynamic for us) and two parts organic sterile compost like Sunshine Blend, Fox Farm, or Earth’s Best. Haven’t made compost before? It’s easier than you think! This video shows the simple steps to composting even if you live in the city; and this article has the 101 on how to make compost.
- Plan to start tomatoes and peppers the last week in February or last week in March (you want to plant by the lunar cycle).
For the Earth,
P.S. Frey Ranch truly is phenomenal. Check out this video about Frey Ranch and its organic wine. The Freys are a second generation family of 12 kids ranging in age from their mid-50s to their 30s and the Frey matriarch, Beba Frey, is still very much engaged in operations there. Our daughters went to dozens of gatherings there when they were in high school and my wife, Nancy, and I have been to quite a few weddings, trainings, and educational events over the years there. Amazingly, all but two of the 12 Frey kids still live there, along with the lion’s share of the next generation, now mostly in their 20s. It seems when you find paradise, no one wants to leave!