Permaculture in Action

Monday, January 11, 2016

After Rain Farming Practices

When ever people ask how the farm is going, my answer always depends on the weather. If it's been dry I will invariably say that we could do with a little rain. If it's been raining the question is always followed by "have you had enough rain yet?", and my usual answer is that we can't have too much rain.

Weeeell after over 230mls of rain I may have to revise my answer, because, even though all the ponds, dams and tanks are thankfully full, the garden is somewhat waterlogged. This along with the following days of humidity has meant we now have fungal problems and root rot.

The tomatoes that we planted really deep to develop good root growth are now succumbing to root rot and in places we can see a little powdery mildew.

Conventionally this would be treated with a fungicide but we like to strengthen the plant instead. We do this firstly by building the soil so that the plant has the nutrients needed to make itself strong enough so that it doesn't succumb to pests and disease. But just like with people, in times of stress plants often need a little something to boost their immunity.

In this case the stress placed on the plants from the excess moisture and humid conditions can be counteracted by the use of a Biodynamic preparation called BD 508 or Equisetum.The silica forces in the horse tail (Equisetum arvence) strengthen the plant’s ability to cope with conditions conducive to fungal attack. In NSW Equisetum arvence is listed as a noxious weed, so we use Casuarina instead. It is boiled up, cooled and sprayed out. We also added some seaweed to the mix as a tonic.

And when I bent down to get a photo of Mark spraying I noticed some red peeking through. Can you see it? This lot were hiding in close to the stake....

If you'd like to know more about Biodynamics, we have some information on our website under Farm Practices (there's a link on the side bar.) and we also run courses on Biodynamics here on the farm.

The Hunter Biodynamic Group made it's headquarters here on the farm late last year. Mark works in the groups herb garden, which is part of our on farm community allotments, on Wednesdays and welcomes anyone with an interest in Biodynamics to join him. Contact me through the comments for more details.


  1. I'll have to do that here, as I have a casurina tree, and get the same climatic extremes to develop blossom end rot. More information for the old noggin to try. ;)

    1. Blossom end rot is actually a calcium deficiency and can be rectified by applying dolomite straight onto the plant, leaves and all. In preparation of the soil before planting the addition of crushed eggshells is a good idea.

  2. Hi Kate. I've jumped across from my blog and have loved having a little peek around your farm. I'm very jealous of all the land you have to grow things. Can't wait until I have time to have a longer look around! Meg:)

  3. Glad to see you survived all that rain Kate. We had about 200ml. I am amazed the soil here drains so well. Your tomatoes look really good:)