Lecture by Alan Chadwick in Saratoga, May 2, 1972
Lecture 1, Part 1.7
An Introduction to Alan Chadwick's Lectures and a Glossary of Terms
The full text of this lecture segment
Contents of this Segment:
Alan Chadwick describes the cultivation of Fava beans; Fungus problems; Clovers, Cover crops and compost; Seed production; Stratification in soils.
Villa Montalvo Lecture Series
Saratoga, California, 1972, Lecture 1,
Cultivation, Part 7
Those bacterial plants are this category: the fava bean is predominant. Broad bean it’s commonly known as throughout the world, but you know it in America as fava bean. Its root is simply covered with bacteria and the lush growth of this bean, that will grow anything from five to eight feet high, is a huge nitrogenous compost maker. It is also one of the most predominant of all the plants for controlling fungoid problems in soil, that and seaweed. Plants grown in soil in which the nutriment quality of this plant is added as a compost, either the fava bean or seaweed, will, cycle after cycle, grow out of fungoid troubles such as mildews and so on.
And certainly into the area of verticillium and its adjuncts, of which, as you know, there are something like eight present families. Do not imagine that by growing fava bean or lucerne and plowing it in that you will eradicate the whole of this matter in one cycle. But step after step the soil changes, the ecology of the atmosphere changes, and your growth changes. And you do become totally free of it. I have proved this even here at Santa Cruz. We’re extremely prone in this area and I have solved it in the area of tomatoes and other matters which are, as you know, acute with verticillium and fusarium. And we have totally eradicated it. Whereas for two years we couldn’t grow a fruit for that reason.
The other bacteria-rooteds are... Next to the fava is lucerne, or alfalfa. After that comes the whole bean family, the whole of the vetch or pea family, and of course, the whole of the clover family. They are all bacterials. And you can use those in orchards, after the establishment of an orchard, for bacterial production. You can use them in the land where you want to make a garden rich and nutritious. And the best way of using these plants is to grow them from the beginning when they are lush, to cut them off at ground level, to make compost of all the green matter.
And I must assess this matter to you, immediately and for all time, that all green matter, green matter, is ninety-eight times the worth in compost, in the manufacture of soil, to all dead matter. In other words, dead stalks, dead flowers, dried up leaves, dried up anything, dead anything, is incomparable compared to green matter: lawn mowings, hedge clippings, weeds. Weeds of all things that contain all these nutritious qualities of which I’ve been referring to tonight like the Lactuca, like the Leontodon, are absolutely rich in the soil-giving elements, totally. And that these bacterial plants that I’ve just mentioned, if all this top is cut off, and individual compost heaps made of this matter, and labeled, you will have compost that will biodynamically control disease and what you would call pest problems, because of their controlling attributes when placed in the soil.
Now when the bacteria is cultivated into the soil, that bacteria does not decompose. It grows in soil and therefore continues almost like, you might say, a spawn, and produces a huge fertility in the soil. Hence, you begin your profusion of from-arid-into-culture. And within six months you can grow lush vegetables, have beautiful weeds, birds and insects, where before you had arid nothing. And from that step you can go on up into the garden of Eden, forever.
The raising of seeds and cultivation of seeds and seed beds, and the preparation of French Intensive beds in the method of cultivation, we will deal with in propagation and fertilization. But very briefly, since I have discussed landslides… I must beg because there is no clock, but are we getting very late? Another five minutes? The method of the French intensive bed is this landslide, or raised bed, and the winter time, in order to make it fertile and productive, you place stratification. For you must realize that all soil is stratification. It’s whole years of beetles, of birds, of manures, of dead leaves or sticks, of mountain rock, of different procedures which have gone on for eons of quarter centuries, centuries, and so on, that have produced stratas of soil. Stratification is part of capillary. It’s part of the whole vision of a landslide, and it’s part of the excitement of plants hunting for different dishes, like breakfast, lunch, tea, and dinner.
They go a little way down... And of course, the moment a seed is born it knows perfectly well what is down there, and what’s over there as well, and will make towards whatever it is enjoyable with. But the moment that it starts to grow down, and it gets into a nice bit of stuff, it’s very happy and it begins to make roots into some leaf mold or some bone meal or some manure. And suddenly it says, “Oh, golly. What’s down there? Wonderful.” Down it goes, and through strata, through strata, through strata, and gets more and more excited, and of course, the whole plant is reactionary to this matter. So that stratification is a huge vision of the preparation of the French Intensive bed.
And underneath, for the benefit of an un-maritime climate, shall we say, a climate that has too many winter changes and is too cool to be achievable, you may place a green compost, which will start to erupt within ten days causing combustion. Now combustion immediately starts warm, moist gases. This is exactly what plants live on. They go mad about it. So you have this green matter at the bottom, and on that green matter you have a little soil and on that soil you have some totally fresh manure. And just what is manure? Manure is green matter worked-out by the machine of an animal into compost. And that also sets up a huge combustion when it mixes on top of this green stuff, with some warmth, and starts up a whole thing of buuugghhh!
And warm, moist gasses are simply erupting through this soil, through this bed, all the time and the plants get madly excited of what’s going on down there in this huge dish of breakfast, lunch, tea, and dinner. And that causes a growth, which normally speaking you would get in the summer; you can get in the winter. That is something of the vision of a French intensive bed, but there is a lot more to come to add on to it.
I just want to talk very briefly for two minutes about seed raising. Very few people realize why you sow seed in a little tiny, shallow box, preferably wood. And it’s simply because of a huge law. Shock of extermination—and I’m using a word merely symbolically—shock of death, produces a plant to become prolific. This exactly what pot plants are and why we grow plants in pots. Cinerarias, primulas, cyclamens… Why on earth do we grow them in pots? For the very simple reason that at a certain stage of growth the plant’s roots all touch the side of the pot and they say, “Oh God, help. I can’t get any further.” And the plant says, “Really, oh dear, we must do it then.” And they flower. And they flower like mad.
Now if you have a cineraria or a primula in a pot it will make a certain amount of foliage and whilst that foliage is growing, and going to go on growing like mad, suddenly the roots touch the sides and it gives the signal. Now if you had that self-same plant in a bed with plenty of soil ad lib, the roots would go on growing and the leaves would go on growing and their huge, great voluptuous growth all going on, and finally, it says “Well, I suppose it’s time to flower. I don’t know, but we may as well try.” But the pot plant, meantime, has had this terrible notification from the roots, “I can’t go on.” And it immediately blossoms, and it blossoms much more than the one in the bed because of a huge law of: the vision of end causes proliferation. If you bark-ring a fruit tree in the fall, that fruit tree will blossom like a lunatic the next spring, and fruit like mad because it must proliferate like mad, because you have bark-ringed it, which means that the flow of sap has been stopped.
In other words, the whole vision of the matter… It’s just the same if you want a hyacinth for Christmas. You must lift that hyacinth bulb much before you should. In other words, it doesn’t grow fully into the summer. You lift it before you should, and it gives it a terrible shock. And immediately the hyacinth forms inside the bulb, ready for the first moment when any roots at all can make it proliferate again. And by this means you will get the flower at Christmas, long before you should.
Shock of death means proliferation. Do you see something in line with humanity? Well, as you see, I never know what time is and we just go on like lunatics. Next Tuesday at 8:00.