Tuesday and Wednesday (12th – 13th) brought a close to our Springtime spraying sequence of Biodynamic Preparations 500 & 501. Tuesday morning Phillip was out at first light to stir the 501 (Cow Horn Silica) for 1 hour before applying it. As usual, we spray all BD preps on foot, with backpack sprayers to ensure better control over the spraying coverage. We feel this gives us more insight into the vineyard as each vine is sprayed and inspected. And there is a certain “vibe” in the process, the vineyard is visited by man on foot instead of the disruption of a tractor(diesel fumes, soil compaction, the breakage of tender canes as the tractor passes through, the absence of the sounds of birds and owls…just the rumble of the crawler…no thank you!) The 501 is normally a 4 hour process, but we thankfully (!!) had the help of 3 volunteers and the process was completed in half the time. Thank you Neil & Nick Sowerby, and Pepi!
BIODYNAMIC PREPARATIONS 500 & 501…AND WHY
Why BD 501? Steiner believed the silica properties found in finely ground quartz crystal were connected with our ‘light forces’, meaning they attract the sunlight to a particular item to help with ripening. In other words, it enhances the photosynthesis of the leaf. The ground quartz is buried in a cow horn under the soil for 6 months: the warmest months of the year, March-September. It is unburied at the autumnal equinox and stored until use in the Spring. It is applied in a fine mist to the leaves of the plant in the early morning hours. It is best to apply 501 in the early growth period of the plant, and again shortly before harvest. It has been found to bring the Brix level (sugar level) up in all fruits (I find this very, very interesting! One harvest, we had a difficult time getting our Mourvedre grapes to fully mature and it was suggested we spray 501 to encourage the vine to ‘keep on going’ before all of the leaves dropped off). 501 is also believed to strengthen the plants against some fungus attacks. (Above 2 photos taken in StoneCross Vineyard, in the head trained Mourvedre block.)
Wednesday afternoon Biodynamic Preperation 500 (Horn Manure) was applied in the afternoon, as the sun as beginning its descent in the sky. We stirred again for an hour–aerating the composition & creating the constant movement of vortexes and choas (see picture to the left: vortex, and the bottom picture is chaos–both photos taken from our copper stirring machine). This spray is applied to the ground in large droplets. We also apply this spray to our 20 acres of woods, since our steers live and eat there, as well as our natural predators. Spraying 500 is a much quicker spray–still on foot with backpacks, but you can arch your arm back and forth in a large wave motion, directing the droplets to fall 10 to 15 feet on both sides and around you.
Why BD 500? Picture yeast: and the magnificent transformation flour and water make when just a pinch amount of yeast is added to it. Or picture yeast: and the conversion of a huge amount of sugar from grapes into alcohol with the aid of a little bit of yeast. This same principle is applied to a minuscule amount of cow manure, diluted in water, and its incredible benefit when applied to the land. Cow manure is buried in a cow horn under the ground for 6 months, on the autumnal equinox and unburied on spring equinox. Steiner believed the cow horn would permeate nitrogen and oxygen forces into the manure due to its astral significance and the digestive processes of the cow. BD 500 is applied to the land, in the Fall and Spring, to promote root growth, the build up the humus properties in the soil and to stimulate it, and to contribute to good bacteria growth in the soil. At the moment, AmByth does not make any of our own BD Preps, but we are on track to do so, with nearly all herbal preps growing and the raising of our steers (with horns). Next year, we hope the BD 500 will be home-grown, buried in the Fall right here on the estate!