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BD Now! By Appointment
July 31, 2005
Charles farms by moon science
Jonathan Leake, Environment Editor
THE Prince of Wales¹s interest in organic gardening has turned an even
deeper shade of green with his decision to experiment with planting crops
according to the phases of the moon.
He has adopted some of the principles of biodynamics, a form of farming in
which livestock are treated with homeopathic remedies rather than
antibiotics, and astronomical calendars and signs of the zodiac play a role
in determining when to sow and harvest crops.
It is often derided by conventional farmers for being unscientific,
producing low yields and being based on superstition. However, in recent
years it has attracted keen interest because biodynamic produce also wins
many prizes for quality.
³Biodynamics has a lot going for it,² said David Wilson, who manages the
prince¹s Duchy Home Farm, which lies close to his Highgrove estate in
Gloucestershire. ³We are beginning to use some of the principles to decide
when we plant some vegetables. If the moon is waxing we plant some seed
species and if the moon is waning, others.
³There is no doubt that if we plant certain seeds at the right phase of the
moon they grow quicker and produce more vigorous plants.²
For some the prince¹s latest move might evoke his revelation that he thought
talking to plants helped them grow better.
There could, however, be a more practical interest at work because the
growing reputation of biodynamic produce means it can attract premium
Duchy Originals, the company set up by Charles to supply and market organic
produce, already generates profits of more than £1m a year for his
charities. A biodynamic line could boost profits further.
Biodynamic farming was founded early last century by Rudolf Steiner, an
Austrian philosopher, scientist and social reformer. Steiner is best known
for his schools, founded on the philosophy that the ³whole child² should be
His approach to farming was similar, and he taught that the sowing of crops
should be timed to fit in with the cycles of the moon, planets and signs of
the zodiac. Steiner¹s Biodynamic Agricultural Association draws up a
day-by-day timetable for planting. This is sent out annually to the 140
biodynamic farmers registered in Britain.
Under the Steiner system each crop type is linked to one of the four
traditional elements: earth, water, wind and fire. Root crops such as
carrots are seen as earth plants while fruits such as apples are linked with
fire. Leaf crops, including lettuce, are associated with water.
Each crop type must then be planted on a day when the moon is in a sign of
the zodiac associated with that element. Fruit, for example, might be
planted when the moon is associated with Leo, a fire sign.
A spokesman for the prince said: ³Some of the principles of biodynamics are
being used at Duchy Home Farm, especially in growing vegetables. It is
already an organic farm.
³The prince is committed to a virtuous circle of providing natural
high-quality organic and pure products which help to protect and sustain the
countryside and wildlife.²
Charles¹s farm managers have been in regular contact with biodynamic
practitioners including Denise and Ian Bell, who farm in Dorset. Denise said
she was delighted at the move, adding: ³We have been pushing for this for
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