Monday, May 25, 2009

Biointensive Garden Progress-2

We've double dug 22 raised beds in 4 weeks. Each bed is 100 square feet or 9.2 square meters. First we thoroughly soak the soil for at least 24 hours. Then remove all grass and weeds for composting. Then double dig the soil to 2 foot depth (6oomm) below the surface. When the soil is returned it is higher due to air added to the soil, so overall the cultivated depth is 600-850mm. This is much deeper than most systems of farming and allows for a closer spacing of plants.

Research at Ecology Action has shown that 40 such beds will adequately supply all the nutrition needs for one year for one person as well as carbon crops to compost for the soil and sufficient income for one person. In South Africa, organic produce sells for approximately double the rate of non-organic produce. So 40 beds should enable a good income as well as healthy food for the family.

We’ve made both the curved top beds used in biointensive gardens (bottom picture, click to enlarge) and the “flat top” often favoured in Africa for raised beds (top picture). We found that the planted area is up to 25% more for the curved top so this is our preferred design. It does require more care with watering until the plants are well established to prevent soil erosion.

Most of the crops we’ve planted initially are soil building cover crops including clover, Luzerne alfalfa grass, fodder radish and fodder rape. The GROW BIOINTENSIVE method encourages planting by the moon, which we have done. Additionally we are doing some planting using a Biodynamic calendar based on the teachings of Rudolph Steiner. The Biodynamic Calendar considers the moon and also the planets for choosing the best planting times. Ezemvelo means "return to nature" and so we teach methods which have been verified by science to be in harmony with and be supported by nature.

The top picture shows biointensive agriculture instructor Simphiwe Tinini demonstrating the biointensive method for spacing plants in a hexagonal pattern which maximizes foliage cover of the soil to reduce soil erosion and inhibits weed growth by shutting out the light.


  1. Nice blog. I will be returning for more.

  2. Thanks Werner. Your blog inspired me to create this one! I linked to some of your posts on in my article on Enlightened Leadership: