Alan Chadwick a Gardener of Souls

Lecture by Alan Chadwick in Saratoga, May 23, 1972


Lecture 4, Part 4.12

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

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Contents of this Segment:

More questions from the audience: Wood ash; Don't feed plants, build soils instead; Manure tea; Stratifications for seed propagation; Fern culture; Healthy soil as solution to fungus problems.


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Villa Montalvo Lecture Series

Saratoga, California, 1972, Lecture 4,

The Totality of the Garden, Part 12


Questions and Answers (cont.)


Q: …Something about in San Jose, a firm making shavings from redwood, having… I don’t know too much about it, but was wondering… [Is your name and telephone number down here? I’ll be in touch.]

A: But the termite cannot live in the light, It can only live in the dark.


Q: May I ask another question? Have you said anything about the feeding of your seedlings?

A: Oh, yes. The whole thing is in the sowing.  However, there is one thing I haven’t spoken of as regards feeding, and there are three matters that are really very simple. Wood ash can be used as a feed to plants on the surface, and raked-in, and then watered-through. Wood ashes. It shouldn’t be applied just near the stalks; it’s very virulent. The second one is that if you do want to feed plants by the correct method of bio-dynamic growing, and the intensive system, and the French method, you shouldn’t need to feed plants at all. The whole system is to apply your fertilizations and the goodness of your soil is a creative matter whereby fertility is taking place all the time. And that the idea of feeding plants becomes rather like the madness of humanity having three meals a day, and doesn’t apply to plant life at all. And you’re liable to get false growth by this feeding system.

However, when it comes to pot plants, and plants in containers, you may use this method with complete satisfaction, but don’t overdo it. Get a bin of any sort, and half-fill a gunny sack with manure: horse manure, cow manure, pig manure, sheep manure, goat manure, anything you like. Half-fill it. Put a little soot and lime with it, preferably. You needn’t, but preferably. Tie the bag round the top with a piece of rope. Hang the bag, hang the bag in the bin, so it’s not touching the bottom. Hang it. And put a hose in with not-cold water, warmish water. Try to get warmish or tepid water running on it. And fill your bin up, and allow the sack to hang there for several days. Submerge it once or twice, you know, dip it in other words. And now you will have a beautiful liquid manure, water. And this you can take in a can or tins, and feed your plants with, and is an excellent, reasonably natural method. Rather like animals walking about between plants, doing their droppings and then the rain coming. It’s similar to that.


Q: Should you dilute that down a little bit more?

A: You should only dilute it if you chose to make it dilutable, in other words, if you chose to make it very strong, you may do so, and dilute it. This, I would say, stands to reason.

Q: I always, I’ve done the same thing. I’ve always made the solution about the color of a weak tea before I go out and water the plants.

A: Yes, sure. And again, it depends on what manure you use, and how fresh or how old. You can (excuse me)


Q: I meant the seeds when they’re still in a flat.

A: Yes, you shouldn’t feed at all. You will run into serious troubles, particularly with damping-off if you do. You should apply your bases, as we discussed before. A leaf mold base is at the bottom, and then, if you want, a little feed-matter at the base, if you need it, a little manure at the base, on the leaf, or a little bonemeal, or a little wood ash, and then your good, a third, a third, a third mixture of soil, and that’s all you need.

Do remember your impetus in seed growing. You want your seeds to come up healthy children, robust and strong, capable of withstanding the problems of the atmospheres. If you feed them at that stage, if you give them fertilizations, they will have false impetus, and they will be weakly. Give them the fertilizations when they are growing into full plants, when you plant them out. That’s the time you want the impetus of this matter. Don’t forget that for raising your seed, virgin natural soil; pricking out, a little fertilization; bedding out, full fertilization. Impetus. Does that answer?


Q: Can you tell me some tips on growing ferns indoors?

A: Yes. Most important of all: most ferns, practically all ferns love plenty of moisture. Goes with it, more important still, demanding superb drainage always. Use any amount of sticks, or stones, underneath, rock. Have perfect drainage for all ferns. They love water, but if it’s stagnant, they will perish at once. Second important note of all: never bury the crown of a fern in the composition. Always have it above, even sticking right out. Never bury it; it will perish immediately. Practically all ferns grow not in soil at all. They love leaf mold or moss or peat composts. They don’t like soil; they like sharp grit, and, as I say, perfect drainage


Q: I’ve heard it said you should water them with tea, or something organic.

A: Well, whiskey’s better. Laughter


Q: Is there any way to combat our terrible fungus, the armillaria, oak-leaf fungus? And also feri-remin, which is a miserable little thing that gets in your lawn and kills it.

A: Yes, sure. The matters that we have discussed all through. This is the bringing about of healthy soil, does absolutely combat it and eradicate it totally. That is: the use of the Fava bean in the soil, the bacteria root, or any of the bacteria rooteds, the whole five, clovers and so on. Growing clovers in your grass, for instance. And using both seaweed and the Fava bean as the compost, and Comfrey, will all bring about a control of this. Do not, because of modern thought, think that you can put it right in a week. Be prepared to take your time. Do it gently, but do it absolute. Yes, those matters will bring it about.

Q: Will they help to control the oak-leaf fungus?

A: Yes, unquestionably. Unquestionably. They will control it. It will take time. Cultivation and the growth of this plant, and the use of this plant as the soil matter will put it correct.




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