A look into our practise
We sat down with our biodynamic expert, Kesh Mudaly, to talk about what she’s been up to in the vineyard lately. This month? She’d been busy spraying the vines with biodynamic preparations to help boost the vine’s energy and health to prepare for the growing season ahead.
Here at Lowe, we use a handful of different biodynamic preparations to strengthen our soil, garden, and vine health across the property. As the seasons change, we adjust the amount of preparations we apply and the times that we apply them.
As spring really begins to kick off, Kesh walked us through the two biodynamic preps she’s been applying and why we use them.
What are biodynamic preps?
Biodynamic preps are used in the practice of biodynamics to work dynamically with our plants and soil to improve overall health.
There are several preps that we use throughout the year, some for compost, and some are sprayed directly onto the vines or soil. The preps use natural compounds, most of which we source from our own property, to strengthen the plants both above and below ground.
As we’ve shifted into the new spring season, our team is focusing on two specific biodynamic preps – Prep 500 and Prep 501. These two preps are used to balance each other in the vineyard – one to improve health under the ground (500) and one to improve health above ground (501).
How do we make Prep 500 & 501?
- Made on-site from our own Tinja cow manure packed into cow horns in autumn and bury underground during winter.
- Made from ground-up Tinja quartz crystals which we slurry into a paste before packing into cow horns in spring and bury underground during summer.
During spring and summer in the biodynamic calendar, the earth breaths out. Think about waking up after a winter’s hibernation and exhaling everything you’ve been holding in. In autumn and winter, the earth breaths in – like taking a large inhale to prepare and store up energy. Prep 500 and 501 work to this same rhythm.
As we mentioned above, Prep 500 focuses on everything below the ground – soil, roots, etc. So, we bury this preparation during the months when the earth is turning inward, in autumn in winter. It stays buried for 6 months before pulling it out of the ground at the start of spring.
Prep 501 focuses on everything above ground – leaves, shoots, buds, etc. So, similarly, this is buried when the earth is turning outward in spring and summer. This prep also stays buried for 6 months before pulling it out of the ground at the start of autumn.
After we pull the preps from the soil, they are mixed with water through the flow form for an hour before they are applied to the vineyard.
The benefits of these sprays
500 is a soil activator that focuses on stimulating root development and growth, in addition to creating more biodiversity in the soil which increases overall health.
501 focuses on the sugar levels of the plants. The higher the sugar level, the healthier and more resilient the plant will be.
The team typically sprays each Prep twice in autumn/winter, and twice in spring/summer. They also use 501 as we approach harvest to ensure the grapes are at their best for picking.
During these spring and summer seasons, Prep 501 is especially important when we experience rain damage. Rain dilutes the grapes lowering the sugar levels and creating a risk of disease to the vines. To get them back up to a healthy level, Prep 501 increases the vine’s ability to photosynthesize, which helps the plant create sugars faster and strengthen the cell walls against disease.
Our goal is to make our plants healthier and more disease-resistant, naturally. These preps help us build up their defences and keep our vines healthy throughout the year.
Whilst there’s still a ton of work left to do for our vineyard team, with the help of Prep 500, 501 (and more) they’re off to an amazing growing season.
If you’re interested in learning more, you can always reach out to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or interest in volunteering. Keep your eye out for upcoming workshops in 2024!