Various studies have shown time and again that small organic farms and home gardens are capable of producing more food per acre with less fossil energy than large-scale commercial agricultural installations dependent on machines and toxic chemical fertilizers and pesticides. This classic book by Wolf D. Storl, a respected elder in the practice of permaculture, details how food is grown holistically and beautifully by traditional communities around the world, and shows how to apply their ancient wisdom to our own gardens.
With interest in natural, sustainable, organic and local food at an all-time high, people are looking beyond their farmers markets and CSA cooperatives to hyperlocal ways of growing healthy, delicious produce in urban gardens and their own backyards. Culture and Horticulture details time-tested methods that are as effective today as they were hundreds of years ago. On the practical front, the book works as a manual for creating and maintaining a bountiful harvest. It explains how to build the soil to maintain fertility; how to produce compost; how to plant, sow, and tend the various fruit and vegetable plants; how to rotate crops and practice companion planting; how to set up a favorable microclimate; how to deal with so-called weeds and pests; how to harvest at the right time; and finally how to store vegetables and herbs. Special emphasis is given to the art and science of composting, the compost being the "heart" of any self-sufficient garden and a model for the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.
At the same time the reader is introduced to the wider aspects of horticulture, to its historical, philosophical, and cosmological contexts and social relevance. Gardening is a cultural activity, shaped by peoples' thoughts, wishes, and needs as well as by their cultural traditions. The author, an anthropologist by profession who has investigated the gardening practices of indigenous people throughout the world and worked for many years on biodynamic farms and in his own food garden, will introduce the reader to Rudolf Steiner's vision of the garden as an organic unit, embedded in the context of terrestrial and cosmic forces. Storl explains the importance of cosmic rhythms (solar, lunar, and planetary), the role of biodynamic herbal preparations as "medicines" for the garden organism, and the so-called "etheric" and "astral" forces. The book presents a vision of the garden as seen through the eyes of "Goethean science," a magical place where alchemical transformations of material substances take place.
About the Author
Wolf D. Storl, PhD, is an ethnobotanist and the author of some two dozen books on herbalism, alternative medicine, ethnobotany, and shamanism. Born in Saxony, Germany, he received his PhD in ethnology from the University of Berne, Switzerland. His early post-doctorate career includes research in a Swiss biodynamic farming community, teaching anthropology and organic gardening at Rogue College in Oregon, participant-observer research at a traditional Swiss farm, and two years in India as a visiting scholar at the Benares Hindu University. Always interested in local gardening practices in his travels around the world, 25 years ago Dr. Storl was able to put his learning to the test when he and his family moved to a mountain farmstead in southern Germany. There he maintains a year-round vegetable garden and continues to teach, also appearing on television in the U.S. and many countries in Europe as a spokesman for natural horticulture. The author lives in Rohrdorf, Germany.
“Wolf Storl in Culture and Horticulture shares with us the philosophy and practice of how to stop the war against the soil, and create a culture of making Peace with the Earth. In these times of a handful of corporations trying to control society and the earth by controlling seed and food and agriculture, gardening, especially organic gardening, is a path to freedom. Wolf's book on organic gardening and biodynamic gardening shows us how we can do it— each one of us can be a garden revolutionary.”
—Vandana Shiva, founder of Navdanya International and author of Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace
“Culture and Horticulture is one of my favorite books. Wolf captures and expresses so many key concepts well and clearly in an easy read. His history of organic farming is especially good.”
—John Jeavons, internationally recognized teacher of the Grow Biointensive farming method, and author of the best-selling book How to Grow More Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine
"Culture and Horticulture offers major insights on how we can all become mindful gardeners with amazing soil, strong crops, and a deep connection to our land, no matter how small our plots of land might be. Essential reading for all farmers."
—Novella Carpenter, author of Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer
“I have referenced my dog-eared first copy many times over the decades. It has stood the test of time as one of the best primers on organic and in particular biodynamic gardening.”
—Larry Berger, from the foreword
Praise for Dr. Storl's previous books
"The author, as you will quickly discover, is brilliant--a cultural ecologist ... and respected herbal elder.... I am humbled by how much I learned reading the wisdom of The Herbal Lore of Wise Women and Wortcunners."
Rosemary Gladstar, herbalist and best-selling author of Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health