Alan Chadwick Lectures at the Urban Gardening Symposium
See here for an Introduction to Chadwick's Lectures and a Glossary of Terms
Lecture 1, Given on April 18, 1975 at San Jose City College or West Valley College
Everything is Governed by an Invisible Law
(Includes the full text with links to the glossary)
What we as gardeners want, and how we go about achieving it. Biodynamics as the culmination of thousands of years of agricultural practice. Drainage as the all-important factor in gardening. The raised bed as a simulation of a landslide in nature. No division between plants, herbs, and the all-important weeds. All cultured crops have developed from wild plants (weeds). The meaning of fertility, which is the production of warm, moist gasses in the soil. All soils can be made to become fertile. Soil texture and its importance in the garden. Capillary action, which is the rising of moisture from deep down in the earth, and how this is affected by soil texture. Stratifications in the soil. Compost is best used as it is in the process of decomposition, not after it has already decomposed. Inclination and declination of the sun and moon affecting plant growth. Thermal control at the surface of the raised bed created by the close placing of the plants. The four elements bringing about the interplay and change of conditions which contribute to fertility. Acceleration in the growth of plants in order to keep tenderness in the vegetable crops. The soil in the beds are more fertile after the crop is harvested than before it was planted, bringing about a constant improvement of the fertility in the garden. (14:27)
Deep rooted and shallow rooted plants. Worms as preeminent cultivators and fertilizers which remain active all year long in the presence of deep rooted plants. Crop rotations affect the balance of the soil. Application of water for irrigation is minimized by the use of the Biodynamic French Intensive method. Pest and disease come as the result of plant weakness brought about by poor soils. The effect of chemical fertilizers is to weaken the vitality of plants and so makes those plants targets for pests. The importance of a balance of nature within the garden created by the relationship and disrelationship between plants and animals. Some examples of the efficacy of herbs. Everything is governed by an invisible law. Nature supplies all of our needs. Education is more than rote repetition. Observation of nature is of the utmost importance, much more than the dead definitions and words that are imposed upon children. Seedlings vs. cuttings. Scientific reductionism is an error because it is the integrity of nature that is of the highest importance. The spiritual basis of the art of horticulture. (17:20)
The miracle of nature cannot be reduced to words. Plants provide food, healing, and spiritual uplift. The virtues of comfrey [then widely accepted, but not now recommended]. Additional examples of herbs and their uses: angelica archangelica, hops, digitalis, willow as the source of aspirin, passiflora as a tonic for exquisite sleep. The illusion of destruction. Nothing is ever wasted in nature. Biodynamics is intensely connected to the attitude of approach of the gardener. Fertility builds upon itself, bringing new life-forms to the garden. It also has a spiritual effect on the human beings who enter the garden. A herbal bed of anthemis nobilis to calm the spirits and restore vitality. Nature cleanses the impurities created by man. Teachings of Steiner concerning the relationships between all of life. Nicotiana affinis and its ability to keep aphids in balance within the garden. Reverence and obedience to the laws of nature is the basis of Biodynamics. Knowledge is a journey. We must perceive the eternal and the invisible behind everything that we do. (17:52)
Questions and answers. When asked where all this information is written down, Alan suggests that it must be learned from someone who understands it is an practical sense. You can no more learn gardening from a book than you could learn to play the violin from a book: It is an art. The mystery of nature is ineffable. Education must be based on nature study. When asked about where one can go to study Biodynamics, Alan suggests that there are people who are equipped to teach these matters, as for example, the apprentice graduates from Covelo. When asked about the elemental beings. Gnomes, undines, nymphs, etc. are mere verbalisms for the mysteries that operate between the invisible and the visible. When asked about nicotiana, Alan offers to provide free seeds from Covelo. (10:10)
Lecture 2, Given on Nov. 13, 1974, at San Jose City College or West Valley College
The Vision of Biodynamics
(Includes the full text with links to the glossary)
Excerpts from Lindsey Robb and Robert Graves. Horticulture and agriculture are one and the same. Horticulture is the only art which is not artificial. Reverence and obediance are the important elements of Biodynamics. Man can create or he can destroy. He must respect the great laws of creation. The ancient origins of the horticultural art in China, Greece, Italy and France. The gardener's attitude of approach is all important in the results that will be achieved. One cannot have money as the basis of his horticultural work. If the attitude of approach is correct, then a cornucopia will be unleashed. Relationship and dis-relationship creates the balance within nature. Spiritual vision as well as food is the produce of the garden. Herbs exist for every ailment. Willow as the source for aspirin, tansey, and digitalis. Tansey surpresses hunger. All livings things contribute to nature's balance, and they deserve a place in the world. Soil is very delicate and must be respected. Biodynamics is not negative, but rather positive invoking reverence and obediance to the laws of nature. The importance of the garden in the field of education of children because it contributes to the development of individuality. Food should be spiritual as well as physical. It should be grown locally, not shipped hundreds of miles across the country. All gardens carry the possibility of pointing toward eternity, especially through the technique of the clairvoyer. A call to the members present to join together in creating a wave for the future. (18:52)
Questions posed to Alan Chadwick:
"Do you plant seeds by the moon?"
"I always plant potatoes on Good Friday, does that have anything to do with the moon?"
"Is there a book which spells all this out [the techniques of biodynamics]?"
"How do you do keep deer and gophers out of the garden?"
"What do you do to control snails?"
"Is there any harm in using horse manure in the garden?"
"What is the white powder that we saw in the film that was shown?"
"Is the procedure of planting by the moon highly complex?"