Australian Fair Food Forum

Biodynamic market gardening

Gday Just joined the forum. I too am a biodynamic farmer growing veges in northern Vic for farmers markets in Melbourne. My father started BD with Alex 50 yrs ago so I have grown up with it. I have been doing Veges for 20 year part time and now full time for last 6yrs. My father was a dairy farmer so Ive done that too. . Look forward to chatting more about BD goals and aspirations to like minded people.

Mark

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Hi Mark

Great to see you on here!

What size is your vege production? Im asking to understand what similarities we share in production.

Im interested in how market gardens are set up and the reason, functionality etc…

I am considering a stirring machine but not sure if the size of this place justifies one yet.

Are you certified?

Kyle

I have a 50 acre property and grow about 5 acres per year which we sell all direct to the farmers markets. I rotate the 5 acres around the property but it’s big enough probably to fit 2 or 3 more similar operations in it. I have an 8 acre stirring machine but if you only have a small operation hand stirring and a knapsack sprayer will probably do.

Cheers

Yup I agree hand stirring is adequate.

So on 5 acres what kind of turn over are you making a year? I always wonder what the ideal scale is for a reasonable turn over. One that includes an annual holiday somewhere nice, instead of an hour down the road :slight_smile:

And for anyone reading through this read (and myself), can you give us a basic idea of your routine to manage soil fertility on that scale?

Personally, I love the simplicity of biodynamics, and of course the results. Im hoping more small scale growers start to realise these 2 major aspects.

Kyle

Let’s just say I make a good wage out of it.

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Good to hear, cos thats whats required do it year in,year out.

Are you interested in sharing some info about your green manuring technique?

Yeah sure… I will when I get a chance. In the meantime perhaps you can share yours.

Cool Mark. Im on a new patch, for me. It was previously used for veggies for 2 years, using organics. Last year, my first season here, I was gung hoe, and had a few victories, but many failures.
After committing to BD (demeter) in December, I started to see great results. Many thanks to correct cultivation techniques, and, of course green manuring.
So now my system is some cow poo (if available), basalt, and a little bit of SRP or gauno applied before planting cover crops. A couple a weeks post germination, and considering current conditions, apply 500p. If weather suits, I apply 501 as well. It can get very damp and humid here on the coast too.

Thats very brief but gives the gist of it. I have discovered your website and you tube channel which are very informative. I got a few tips from one of your strawberry videos. Ive just planted some out, first time with strawberries, so Im excited to see how it eventuates.

Hope all is well.

Kyle

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My green manuring system is very basic I grow a tall crop of pasture. Lots of rye grass Clover and phalaris then I mulch it all down with an old forage harvester. I go through with a deep ripper first and leave some of the grass to dry out as I like to have a mix of green and dry. I then lightly disc it in and spray with prepared 500 and leave to break down for a number of weeks. Depending on how that goes I may rip again or likely disc before going in with a tyne cultivator. Then I tried to row it up with disc rowers and leave it some time to break down. Then when I feel it’s dry enough I will put the bed former across it and Away I go. I usually do heavy feeding crops first and then continue with lighter feeders for a couple of crops then back to a green manure. That’s pretty much it.

Great thread I have looked at the Biodynamic process and I have seen many examples of the efficacy of it.

I did not know you could buy the preparation without having to go through the whole burying the cow horn etc process.

I am following an Urban farming principle with only a small area which I am able to keep with conventional composting with added worm castings from my worm farm setup. Hope to see more content of the outcomes of the project.

I looked at your youtube channel Mark as I was keen to see how you were farming your strawberries.

I was surprised to see you not have them growing through an ag fabric I would have thought weeds pressure would be quite severe.

I put a small trial of only 500 plants in to see how they go … with many people telling me I will not be able to grow here in SE QLD without using some form of fungicide.

So far so good but as the weather warms up I would expect to see some sort of pest pressure to show up.

Yea great info @saveoursoil . Post green manure a part of my system im still developing. Im quickly learning the advantages of appropriately sized equipment. However I am still happy with what I have, (kubota L1500dt) but now have a clearer idea of what is ideal for me.

I too watched some of your videos on strawberries, as Ive got some in here on the south coast. Good videos. I transplanted, sprayed 500, lay drippers then mulched with grass id cut here.

They are just starting to flower, and being regularly irrigated, as it is extremely dry and windy here at the moment.

Thanks for sharing Mark, Ive also learned about some developments with Demeter and a market garden group. Great for sharing info for newbies like myself.

Hope all is well

Kyle

Nice to see you make to move to BD Kyle. At Purple Pear farm we have been using the biodynamic method for going on to twenty years now and are continually amazed by the results. Good luck with your venture.

Thanks @purplepearfarm!!

Wow 20 years!! Im sure you have learned many things in that time??

It also suggests to me that you are truly, and happily committed to biodynamics.

What is one of the reasons that holds you to BD?? Feel free to state more than one…:smiley:

Kyle

Yes mate - the main reason - hope it don’t sound too glib - it just feels right for me. This is backed up by improvements we see in the soil. Many of those improvements can be attributed to good organic practices but there is something more. People comment on our greens as something special and I think it is down to the BD501 Horn Silica working with the 500 in the soil.

Great answer. Its the same for me, it feels right, for me. Its only been a year here with demeter preps, and I have observed significant change in the soil, and its reflected in the plants. Customer feedback reaffirms the results too. Im hooked

Hey mate keen to chat about this. I’m learning this stuff too, been working with Demeter preps for a bit now. Learning heaps about the soil and plants growing. My soil was really really average when I started now is growing heaps better produce. You really get a good measure of where your soil is at when you grow without nitrates on the crop etc. I just do green manuring no composting. So took a few goes to get the plants growing well! I’ve got a sandstone acre and an alluvial acre that was 4.4 ph when I started, on the same property, rented land too. They grow different veggies differently I e carrots grow better in the sandstone and are sweeter than in the flats. While leafy vegetables grow much better on the flats. Been a wonderful challenging learning experience and gonna keep going and growing for as long as possible. I’ve found in my sandstone garden the soil will need a longer rest between crops, it’s quite sandy so structure is harder to keep than the alluvial soil, for the time being anyhow. Thinking of dividing it into thirds. One gm, followed by a crop then s green manure with the next one direct drilled with a disc seeder so the ground can be undisturbed. I reckon the structure and fertility would really really build up in that time. How do you find growing on a small scale for a living down where you are.

When I say structure is harder to keep, I mean you have to be way more careful than usual. Timing speed what you use how many times you know what I mean. The structure is improving still. But is a totally different soil to the other one on the creek flats

Hey Tim,
Sounds like you’ve got a good system developing.

I find growing down here, exciting, challenging and frustrating, oh, and extremely rewarding!! Theres a lot of positives. Good dirt, good demand, and a distinct 4 seasons. plus the surf and national parks.
The key is finding your own groove with sales outlets, crops and capacity…the rest is easy ha!!

it’s big enough probably to fit 2 or 3 more similar operations in it.