Maria Thun, the key figure in establishing the modern sowing and planting calendar taking in the phases of the moon and the movement of the planets, died at her farm in mid Germany on 8th February 2012.
Hers was a methodical research embedded in an enquiring mind, which began in the 1950s when noticing changes in germination patterns she set out on what was to prove to be a life long journey investigating the phenomena of different plant growth characters when sown on different days. By linking this phenomena to astrological calendars she observed a suitable day to sow leaf, root, flower and fruiting seed types and moreover when to plant them out.
There have been farming calendars before, even Old Moore’s Almanac featured a sowing guide a hundred years ago but it was Maria’s linking the sowing calendar with biodynamic farming practice with its awareness of star and furrow, compost preparations and field sprays that gave her calendar a special relevance.
From her biodynamic farm in Germany, Maria Thun published her first calendar noting her observations 50 years ago in 1962 and although there have been other sowing and planting calendars since, she is acknowledged as the central figure in establishing the calendar as a vital land practice tool beyond the biodynamic movement.
Hers was a story of constant evaluation, the best time to cut wood, turn milk to butter, graft saplings, take honey, make juices. Even traffic dangers were noted on certain days, an exhortation to be careful when driving or as a pedestrian. Many farmers and gardeners not to mention foresters and food processors owe their good husbandry practice to her yearly publication and she will be missed for her acquired and instinctive wisdom on land matters. As if to acknowledge her work many high quality vineyards discovered in the last decade the dramatic improvement of wine taken from biodynamically grown plants harvested in certain constellations. To everyone’s surprise, Tesco and Sainsbury’s have organised wine tasting sessions based on her observations.
Her son takes on the farm and her work as well as being a renowned artist.
Maria Thun has published several well loved books which sell all over the world
Gardening for Life – Hawthorn Press
The Biodynamic Sowing and Planting Calendar – Floris Books (published annually)
When Wine Tastes Best – Floris Books (published annually)
For further information on biodynamics please see www.biodynamic.org.uk