Lecture by Alan Chadwick in Saratoga, May 23, 1972
Lecture 4, Part 4.10
An Introduction to Alan Chadwick's Lectures and a Glossary of Terms
The full text of this lecture segment
Contents of this Segment:
More questions from the audience: Timing for making strikes and cuttings; Culture of water cress and mustard; Herbal sprays and powders; Egg shells for carnations and tomatoes; Seaweed in the orchard; Fava bean; Method for selecting and harvesting seed in the garden.
Villa Montalvo Lecture Series
Saratoga, California, 1972, Lecture 4,
The Totality of the Garden, Part 10
Questions and Answers:
Q: You mentioned taking cuttings and strikes at the spring and fall equinox. Was it, a month before and a month after? Which was it?
A: Yes, prior to the spring equinox, and after the fall equinox are the two best periods. And you understand that, as with seed-sowing, with the rising moons. This is a matter of cycles of growth forever after that, do you understand? That you will get a far better plant that way. Oh, you can strike all through the summer if you want, you can strike in the winter even, sometimes if you want to. But this isn’t the point, the point is always what we’re going for, is the huge vision of culture, sensitivity.
A: Oh, enormous, enormous, and the very opposites too. You understand that there are those plants that need to be struck with the spring equinox, and those that need to be struck with the fall equinox, and likewise with seed sowings.
Q: I’ve got two other specific questions, I was wondering when the best time to pick watercress and white mustard is? What time is the best for eating?
A: As regards to the watercress, always remember that you must have running water, never still water. The right time to collect watercress is at the time when the shoot has very few opened leaves and the bud is fairly tight. You should crop continually. Never allow bolt or run. And the same literally applies to mustard as well.
Q: And I was wondering, I’d like to know if you know where I can obtain medler?
A: I wish that I could tell you that, but on the contrary. Try the Rare Fruit Growers of California. I don’t think I’ve got a catalog here, but if you would give me your address—in fact, I know who you are—I’ll let you have it. You understand that California has the misfortune—forgive my saying so—of being in the bad books with the Ministry of Agriculture. That you can’t bring fruit trees or strawberry plants or raspberries from other states into California. They’ve got a mad kind of… Well, let’s leave it at that.
A: You do realize that the medler can only be eaten when it’s rotten. Has four seeds in the middle, is one of the most delicious fruits, and vastly forgotten
Q: I wanted to ask you, if you know how to get rid of mealybugs on cactus?
Q: What’s that?
A: Well, it’s like asking who John Knox is. He’s John Knox. Pyrethrum is a plant out of which you can make an extraction or a powder that will destroy beetles, that will destroy caterpillars and maggots, and it will perform the trick. And if you want to know where to get it, you will find it in that book. There’s an address in there in San Francisco. You can get Pyrethrum powder. You can apply it dry or you can apply it wet. Other than that Quasha chip would do the same. You can get Quasha chip out of there as well.
Q: I have two questions. You have said that you would let us know where we can get bone meal that was not steamed, somewhere in San Francisco.
A: Yes, in Lucas, San Francisco. Hmm? [David Pace.] David Pace, thank you very much.
Q: And the second was: Two weeks ago you told us about using eggshells around our carnations. I’ve been saving them, and they’re ankle-deep in there now and I don’t know how much to use.
A: Use three and give me the rest. [Laughter...] You can’t use too many, I promise you. And any surplus you’ve got, keep them for your tomatoes. The tomato will thrive even more than the carnation on it.
Q: Spread them on the surface?
A: Yes, and what is more, it’s excellent in the entirety of your compost, for spinach, peas, lettuce. Everything will thrive upon the calcium of eggshell. Would that there were more birds and more eggs.
Q: You mentioned seaweeds, as a cure for fungus?
A: Certainly, it is. Even the entire scientific world...
Q: Could we fill up a car with seaweed and scatter it around the orchard and it would eradicate oakwood fungus, which is what we’re...
A: Yes, yes, yes.
Q: Fantastic. And then, how about the leaf mold...
A: Also, the use of the Fava bean. You could either sow this in the orchard, cut it, and make compost of the topping, and dig the root in, which is full of bacteria. And then put the compost back on the surface. The Fava bean and the Seaweed are the two huge combators of fungoid matters in the soil. What you must understand is the vision of this matter. That is, that if you have vital, healthy soil, with nutriments in it, this will affect the atmosphere, the breathing of the plants, and eventually bring about a control of an atmospheric disease, if you like to call it, which is what fungoid is. Do you understand what I’m getting at?
Q: I understand. Can we put the seaweed, just like squish it under all over the orchard, alive, fresh from the sea?
A: No, you should beware of this, according also to what time you get it. Now, if you get your seaweed from well up above tide level. In other words, the cliff edge of a beach somewhere, where it’s been leached out by rain, yes you can. But otherwise, you must either expose it to rains, on a roadway, someplace where the salt, the saline isn’t going to do any harm, or you must hose it through. That you can do. You can simply spread it out on an area, a washed-down area of some sort, and after you well-washed it through with the hose, then you could spread it in the orchard if you want. Or better still, to pile it for three weeks or a month, and let it rot. You see, you must understand that all composition is far better handled by man into a decomposing matter. That nature’s method is a very slow one, and a great deal of it is waste. It dehydrates, in other words. Seaweed is very prone to dehydration. Sun and air and wind will waste an enormous amount of the gelatinous and the gases. If you compost it, you will maintain all of those. And then when it's rotting, put it on, and work it into the surface and you will have the utmost attribute from it. Also, you understand that in your orchard, as much as that, good carbon wood ashes will cause a complete control of fungoid matters as well. The potassium of this.
Q: You know how oak-wood fungus kind of serpentines around in the soil.
A: Certainly, sure.
Q: Well, is it possible to sort of put a barrier of seaweed around the planted areas sort of, so it won’t come in, or what?
A: I would say that that would probably be effective. It would be effective. What you’ve got to think of is the total vision of the matter of bringing about this change in the soil itself, and the growth of the plant.
Q: I have two questions, Mr. Chadwick: First, you’ve mentioned several times the importance of taking seed. How do you take seed from various vegetables, flowers..?
A: You cull wherever possible… How many of the lectures did you attend? [I beg your pardon?] How many lectures did you attend here? [All but the first.] Oh. Well then, I would have thought that you had some… Probably I thought something and never said it. You should, wherever possible, grow a separate bed for seed, rather than your cropping area, you understand? Give up a small area, isolated. If you want turnip seed, or lettuce seed, say “Over on that far side we’ll have the crop, and over there we’ll have the seed bed.” A little seed bed. Ten plants. Five of the plants will not be absolutely positively superb. Throw them away. Take them out. Cull them. The ones that are absolutely tip-top, leave them, let them go to seed. Any inferiority, cull it. Understand? Allow it to go to seed, protect it if necessary. When that seed… Every seed blossoms, you understand? As well as a flower blooming, a seed blooms, do you understand? In other words, a seed becomes truly ripe, with all the casing becoming opening and beginning, beginning to let the seed out. That is the time you must go with a brown paper bag, cut the heads off on the stalks, and place them upside down in the bag. Tie it round. Write on the bag what it is, where you took it and everything about it, and hang it up in a cool dry place until you want it. All seed is better left in its natural casings. Such things as cucumber, gourd, pumpkins, squash, are best sown in the fruit of last year, and will give a far better crop, not only better germination, proved, over and over again.
Q: How about tomatoes?
A: The same thing. Keep the tomato in the tomato. It will rot. It’s what it’s meant to do. It will be better. Difficult to sow, but do it. It will work.