Glenaeon Garden Culture

02 August 2023

Pests in the garden? (Part 1)

The healthier our immune systems, the less vulnerable we are to illnesses. And it’s the same with plants.
Students are used to grinding rocks in gardening lessons (and playtime too!). Rocks are made of compacted minerals and when ground and spread onto garden beds, they give good mineral access to plants. The minerals strengthen the soil, which makes the plants healthier and less vulnerable to pests.

Indigenous peoples knew which rocks were needed by particular native shrubs and medicinal plants. Some may require iron and silica, others need copper or zinc. Our students learn to name the minerals in the rocks by sight - red colouring in a rock is iron, the black is basalt, the sparkle is silica as found in sandstone. They grind the rocks and sprinkle the dust around their favourite plants.

The biodynamic preparations we use in compost systems provide strengthening for the garden soil and hence to the plants and animals. We humans also gain vitality thanks to this careful scientific method of agriculture.

From Pest to Friend

In the Glenaeon gardens we look after the insects, birds and animals: they all have a place in the ecosystem. It may be merely our perception that they're a pest, so we begin by wondering: how is this a beneficial friend bringing particular gifts to the gardens and to us?

The bush turkey is aerating the soil. Wasp and bee stings give us formic acid, believed to strengthen the nervous system. Leaves nibbled by insects can become even more nutritious: “Stress responses created in the fruits and vegetables initiated an increase in antioxidant compounds prior to harvest, making them healthier for human consumption”.***

Animals gift us so much and we seek to show good care for them. The new garden bed at Middle Cove features a stunning bird bath made by teacher Brendan Strobl in ‘centre stage’. The students suggested the old square pumpkin patch could be transformed into a rounder heart or rainbow shape, thus mirroring the oasis. It's also a gift back to the animals as visiting birds and insects now have sitting water and all the colours of the rainbow in flowers!

Wise words to sow by

Many cultures have their sayings to remind of the need to share the seeds we plant with our animal friends. In the Glenaeon gardens we plant in 4s - Michelle, one of our gardening teachers, learned this verse from her Italian farming ancestors and we keep it on the garden classroom blackboard:

One for the mouse

One for the crow

One to rot

And one to grow

In the next newsletter - how we manage the garden so animal friends don’t become problematic pests…

Got a question, story or idea to share? The Glenaeon Garden Team would love to hear from you!

If you would like to come and learn with us, Steiner college is offering a Masterclass on September 9th and 10th 
(discount for Glenaeon families: BD-GLEN-0923)

*** Plants' 'organic' wounds improve produce:

Sandra Frain
Gardening Teacher