Organic cultivation

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Organic farming means purely biological means of pest control, hedge protection, surrounding weeds rather than weeds, natural fertilisers and careful irrigation.

Drying out parasites

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Since inauguration of the site in 1976, insecticides have never been used. This is another reason why beneficial insects are particularly attracted to the area. For example, nowhere in the region are ladybirds so prolific as at Terra Medica. Hence, low-level pest infestation can be tolerated. It is entirely natural for some plants to be affected during their growth phase, but by the time they are harvested natural regulation will have dealt with the problem. If the attack is in fact too extensive, the plants will be cut back. In some plant species, the second flush can nevertheless be used. At certain stages, the plants can also be dusted with rock flour to dry out any unwanted pests. Only approved, purely biological products are used, when necessary, in the greenhouses (for treating individual plants).

Hedge protection against chemicals

To prevent the potential drift of pesticides from neighbouring agricultural areas, appropriate border planting is in place. The scope of pesticide use in agriculture today has diminished considerably, however. Such measures are now very accurate and economical. This, and our own efforts, mean that no such substances from surrounding areas have yet been detected on our own croplands. Naturally we make regular checks – for the smallest of traces!

Unwelcome plants are treated as friends

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In the medicinal plant plots, we have an “agreement”: all plants are basically plants. What are commonly referred to as weeds or “unwelcome visitors” are seen in a more positive light – surrounding plants, which are welcome “friends”. Hence, they not only are companions to the desirable medicinal plants but are even used in homeopathy, just like the dandelion, stinging nettle and ribwort. Most mulch plants are treated in the same way as “surrounding insects”: if they get out of hand, they are removed. If a particular type of surrounding weed is needed for manufacturing purposes, it is left in the plots and harvested from between the cultivated plants.

Only natural compost as a fertiliser

In recent years we have been using Demeter-grade compost in Terra Medica that consists of plant residues and cow manure. In addition, we use our own compost heaps derived from more coarse plant residues (from the cultivation plots) as well as from high-grade press residues left over from the production of mother tinctures. The heaps are turned frequently and only after several months produce a rich compost for field fertilisation and the cultivation of young plants. Before the compost can be used, it is treated with hot water vapour at a temperature of 80 degrees so as to remove any parasites. When producing the compost, the gardeners also pay close attention to which plant residues are used. Cherry laurel, for instance, is not suitable for making compost due to its harmful constituents.

Water aplenty

The water we use for irrigation is sourced primarily from the natural groundwater of the deep, on-site well. In summer, the light, sandy soil of the Rhine Valley demands large volumes of water. The water obtained from the depths is rich in iron and manganese, and so is only used as an alternative in the greenhouses, where the rainwater collected in ponds is preferred. Various sprinkler systems are used to water the plants and are programmed to operate automatically at night.

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