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Randal

Randal

Use of Manure (And not in a good way)

— feeling bad smell
Biodynamic Wines - Monty Waldin

The author is an expert in the subject of "biodynamic wine". The practice of biodynamics is a form of alternative agriculture very similar to organic farming, but which includes the concept of treating soil fertility, plant growth, and livestock care as interrelated tasks, emphasizing spiritual and mystical perspectives. The theory has been around for thousands of years, but gained attention in the 1920's from the ideas of Rudolf Steiner. Waldin is a believer that the practice offers solutions to problems facing today's winemakers (reduced soil fertility and pest/ disease resistance).
I found the concept interesting. As an organic gardener myself for many years, I am always looking for ways to improve my gardens. I am in agreement with the author on many things. Increased composting, use of manure, and non-reliance on chemicals to fertilize or treat pests are all in my wheelhouse. I agree with his beliefs in reaching a balance in our ecological systems and in biodiversity.
Waldin's description of the ways wines are being created today, and of the heavy reliance on chemicals in all steps of the winemaking concur with what I have read elsewhere. Thankfully, it seems that the world is starting to recognize the benefits of organic farming, even in winemaking.
Waldin spends the first part of the book explaining the history of biodynamics. It was interesting. His belief in using biodynamics in the preparation of natural substances, cow manure and medicinal plants seemed valid.
But....then he tended to confound me. Some of the techniques used seemed to be very odd. Specifically, "making the preparations involves sheathing the substances in specifically chosen animal organs". This is where it gets weird. One technique was to "bury a cow horn filled with cow manure for six months over winter then dig it up and extract the manure from the horn". Creating "spiritual manure", to utilize a cow's unused spiritual forces. And not just any cow horn, it's preferable to use female cow horns, and only those which have had a number of calves. The horns are to be buried "in the afternoon and under a descending moon". Another technique is to use the same horns, but in this case filling them with ground quartz. They should be buried while under a ascending moon, so the silica inside will form complementary forces to those contained by the "spiritual manure". Yet another technique is to use the common plant "horsetail" to make a tea to spray on the plants. It should be sprayed around the time of a full moon, "to rein in potentially overmighty lunar growth forces". Another technique was to make a tea from the plant "yarrow". But...the yarrow should be "stuffed into the bladder of a red deer stage and remain there for six months", and to be hung in a tree for that time. This is because "in terms of its forces a deer bladder is almost a replica of the cosmos".
I have to admit, at this point, approximately a quarter of the way into the book, I had to give up. I couldn't take anymore. I believe everyone should have their own beliefs, but, for me, this was nonsense.
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. I regret that I was unable to finish it for them.