Alan Chadwick a Gardener of Souls

Lecture by Alan Chadwick in Saratoga, May 16, 1972


Lecture 3, Part 3.4

An Introduction to Alan Chadwick's Lectures and a Glossary of Terms

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Continue to Lecture 3, Part 3.5

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Contents of this Segment:

More on fava bean culture; Seaweed; Nettles in compost; Interplanting vs sprays; Sonchus as aid to tomato culture; Ranunculus controls clovers; Manures; Pig, cow, sheep, rabbit, horse manures; Poultry manure is not very beneficial; Stock piles of decomposed manures; Bird Guano.



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Villa Montalvo Lecture Series

Saratoga, California, 1972, Lecture 3,

Fertilization, Part 4



But there’s only one that is a complete competitor against fungoides. I’ll give you the name of it later. But, this Fava bean I grew to a height of nine feet, in the tomato beds, after having verticillium, and having no crop of tomatoes the second year. I grew this Fava bean in the winter. I allowed it to go nine feet high. We ate a lot of the lovely beans. And I decided it was at its peak, which is always the time to do this job with all plants or weeds that are going to go into, into compost. I severed the whole of the plant at collar area, ground level.

And I then dug out the ditches for the tomatoes that were going to go in later, and I turned in all the bacterial root into the bed. I then layered the whole of the growth of this Fava bean, which as I say was tremendously high, eight and nine feet in some cases, and very voluminous as it always is. And I layered it all in, and laid it with stratifications, tomato bed stratifications, on top of it. Within three months, the whole of that Fava had started to decompose, and combust, and cause a compost under the beds. We had a huge crop of tomatoes, close to three thousand five-hundred pounds again, and we had only two cases of fusarium and verticillium.

Seaweed is always another component which brings about a control of this matter. There are many. They are not limited by any means. What I am doing is telling you, I am explaining at the moment, the relationship of plants from a point of view of fertilization and control. Now it has also been tested… We are going to discuss the Nettle a great deal in fertilization. It has also been discovered that the Nettle contains matters that not only make an extraordinarily unique compost, quite different to any other, but that they also have vital qualities. As you know the Nettle is full of formic acid. And that this formic acid passes out as it decomposes. But it brings about a cause in the soil, which is a protector, both against insect overeating, and certainly disease matters such as fungoides, and others. But particularly fungoid. It is perfectly feasible to make a spray of this one nettle, the arvense, and this is the principal one to use, in fact, almost the only one. You can make a spray out of it and you can spray it on to anything that is prone to fungoid, whether it be roses, dahlias, peas, or anything else. And you can use this spray as you can the one Equisetum, arvense, and it will prevent.

But, what I’m driving at is this: It is a far better system in the garden and the farm, and the small holding, to intergrow these plants, to interrelate them in their growth, rather to think of sprays or powders, which are not as effective in the long run. In a case of an outbreak, the spray or the powder can have more immediate effect. But the general control is in growing these things together in relationships. Just as the good sound eating of excellent vegetables and herbs brings about a health in man’s living through eating his food, whereby he does not need medicines. If you’ve got something seriously wrong with you, if you go to the chemist and get a synthetic thing it will obviously put it right, and put three things more wrong.

Now, the Sonchus, the Fava, and the Nettle, will all bring about good control in a tomato bed. This is just one relationship. Now here is one in opposition: If you have a pasture, and you have Clover, and you allow the Ranunculus known as the Butter-cup to grow, that Ranunculus will kill the Clover in quite a quick time. In fact practically all the corms—and in this case I am referring to the Ranunculus family, of the Anemone, the Ranunculus, the Butter-cup, the Celandine, and so on—they will destroy many herbs. They are not friendly. And if you want to have controllers of those things, there they are. In other words what I am really saying is: “Dear sirs, we don’t need poisons.” The world is full of relationships, friends and enemies, love and hate. It’s a question of the good scientific knowledge of studying nature.

I’m going straight into fertilizers: the values of, generally speaking. Let us take manures. The most important and lush, from a point of view of qualities in the use of manures is: pig, cow, sheep, goat, rabbit, horse. Poultry manure, as today’s poultry, you should not consider it. It is packed with ammonia. It has tremendous burning qualities, and is really only of any, any real serviceable value after it’s been stockpiled for at least two years. And by that time, almost all goodness has gone from it anyway. I will discuss bird manures in one second.

Now, in the focus on those manures, you must understand that when you want a hot bed under a French Intensive bed, you want fresh manure. It’s going to decompose. It’s going to… I can’t think of a word I want, but… explode, immediately, and cause heat, which is what you want. Therefore you want fresh manures for that purpose, and even horse manure is as equivalent as anything else, just for that purpose. But, what you have to consider for your growing is that you must have what is known as stockpiles, just as we discussed our turf-loam last time, how to make your piles of turf-loam and label them.

So every garden and farm and small holding should have its numerous piles of manures. And they should be labeled and they should be stockpiled. There are times when you want manure at six months, times at a year, two years, and sometimes even three years. Begonias love to grow in almost manure, and anemones love to grow in almost manure, but they can’t take it fresh. Two and three years stockpiled is ideal, when it’s become a loam, but still full of all the fertility of the manure. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have plenty of these piles with labels, and then you know where you are.

You understand that everything that lives in the garden is really making you fertilization. Bees do a lot, little birds… You would say: “Oh, what difference can fifty Canary Warblers do?” Well, the point is, it’s not how much can they do, it’s this question of what can they do? And these little variations make great differences.

Now, there is a bird manure which is invaluable. And it’s a rather interesting matter, if you don’t mind taking up just a few moments to talk about it, because it’s interesting. And it concerns what is called guano. Guano, as you know is sea-bird manure, in other words, birds that live on fish, mostly. And a very interesting matter is that there are birds all over the world, sea-birds, that make guano and drop it on rocks and places where it’s quite collectable in great quantity. However, there is one place, as you probably know, Chile, which fifty years ago, made its greatest municipal income from the sale of bird droppings, guano.



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