Alan Chadwick at the Urban Garden Symposium,1975, Part 2
See here for an Introduction to Alan Chadwick's Lectures and a Glossary of Terms
Contents of this Segment:
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)
Full Text of this Lecture:
Alan Chadwick Lectures at the Urban Garden Symposium in 1975, Part 2
Everything is Governed by an Invisible Law
In the interpolation of the planting of that bed, must come the study of deep-rooteds [deep-rooted plants] and shallow-rooteds. Now one of the greatest achievers of nature of which man has no competence whatever, is worms. Worms are enormous cultivators and enormous fertilizers. They do both. Normally, in ordinary soil, where you have a strata of compaction, which is perfectly natural throughout the world, the worms will go into dormancy both in the summer and the winter and curl up in that strata and then come out in the two equinoxes and operate. The moment that you have deep rooted plants—and lucerne will go down sixy-two feet. Rhubarb goes down fourteen to sixteen feet. Chicory will go down ten to fifteen feet. There are endless, endless, endless herbs and plants that do these things. Now the moment that one of those roots goes through the stratifications the worms are all delighted. They do not go into dormancy. They travel down beside the roots and they cultivate and they fertilize to get where no machinery of man can ever attempt. For you know yourselves, that four feet is about the extreme that most horticulturalists and very few agriculturalists ever even dream of.
Now, you perceive that we have said that plants breathe out of the air into the soil, and out of the soil into the air. In this very manner, the interpolation of your crops, that is, the choice of the growing of your plants, interpolated, since every plant has certain of what we would call chemical attributes, magnesium, sulphur, phosphorus, iron, they all have different major attributes. Silly words which you must get out of your mind because they are completely untrue. But, all of those plants, do, through those very items, have an inference into the soil. So that if your soil is lacking in iron, or lacking in magnesium, or lacking in phosphorus, or potassium, there are an enormous bunch of herbs and plants which, if you grow them, will induce that within six months, and increase it and increase it and increase it.
Therefore, the whole vision that leads out of that French Intensive bed into biodynamics again, is relationship and dis-relationship. So, you will perceive that the course of excellent drainage and the course of the method of planting that bed in that system, you will realize that the use of irrigation or water is literally completely the minimal that you will ever think of. Very very little water is required because there is no serious drying out. There is no seizing of the soil surface. It doesn’t even have to be worked. The plants themselves maintain that perfect texture on the surface. And therefore at all times that bed is articulate, breathing and full of all the capacities of nature of excellent health.
And now you can see the result upon the excellent nutriment and juices that must then operate in those plants. For your soil is now the very basis of the very things that you are praying for. Therefore you have the utmost nutriments, the utmost breathing abilities, and strength and vitalities. And this goes to show the enormous importance of the whole of that system because it immediately undoes the word pest and disease. Pests and disease come as a result of weakness, impute blood, poor juices, and general such matters. When you have strong vitalities, when you have strong soil which is getting stronger and stronger and stronger, you are not running into to weakness and weakness and weakness. You know very well that if you feed a child or a person upon white bread out of the emporium, they will go on eating it all day, and be completely unsatisfied. And they will get no nutriment from it, they will merely be stuffed with it. Likewise, it is true to say, and this is not negative, that if you grow plants upon extracted subterrestrial chemicals, you are doing exactly the same as feeding a person upon white bread. The plant will fill itself, and fill itself, and fill itself, hunting and hunting and hunting, which is exactly what those chemicals are supposed to do, and will be full of weak juices.
When all the insects—which after all are a complete ordinance of God’s law and the laws of nature—come to feed upon the foods which are ordained for them to feed upon, they will find something which is the equivalent of white bread. And they will eat and eat and eat until they are silly, and they will breed and breed and breed until they are silly. It is exactly the same as life in the city. And here you have the whole region in which the real word pest and disease came into agriculture. It was the result of disordinance and unbalance in the cultivation, the fertilization, and the propagation of the bed. When insects eat their proper food—with good food—they only need a certain amount and they are fed. And they have every right to have it. And the whole attitude of biodynamics is that all the insects, all worms and all the animals do belong, not only in nature, but in the garden. And if we are the great administers [administrators] of this world, which people claim that we are, we should indeed see that they are properly looked after. And if necessary, we should indeed feed them.
And if indeed you have too many birds in the garden, which is a high question these days, if you have too many insects, in the whole vision of nature, is relationship and dis-relationship. Have you ever seen a butterfly, or a moth, or an aphid, on sambucus (that is elderberry)? Have you ever seen a fly on anthemis? Never. You never have. I can’t possibly, with this clock going round, describe all the relationships and dis-relationships. They are absolutely complete. They are endless. In every one is a relationship and a dis-relationship to something. You will probably know well that seneccio (groundsel) when you give it to a hartz roller canary, or any of the finches, within two minutes they will be singing. It is also seneccio that gives the softest water filtered in the world, next to the fagus (the beech). You would know, probably, that if you stand under the fagus when there is a lightning storm, you can never be struck with lightning. No fagus, no beech tree, is ever struck by lightning. It cannot be. But an oak can. If you are afraid of bees, and don’t wish to be stung, you must carry anthemis or matricaria. And they won’t come near you. They just don’t like it at all. But if you want bees to come to you, why you must carry melissa, or bee-balm, and they will come to you at once. This is day and night, hot and cold, good and bad, black and white, breathing in and breathing out. And it is the whole thought of nature.
And it is all operated through the arithmetic of the planets and the stars which all revolve and move all the time. Nothing, absolutely nothing in nature is static except, you might say, the law of God. That is, all the great, great botanists and biologists and true scientists of the knowledge of nature always said—when they have searched into the whole laws of nature—they would say: “Yes, but if all the stars are going that way and the planets are going that way, and it takes fifty-six years for Saturn to revolve; supposing that God decided that they should go the other way, would they?” And the answer every time, of course, is— Yes they would. And there sits the whole seat of the matter. Everything is governed by an invisible law. Invisible. And today, we are so presumptuous, because we unfortunately can make a motor car, and it does go along—sometimes— we think we make things. And we cannot make a thing. We make nothing. For everything that we ever want is supplied to us through nature. Everything that we eat, everything that we wear, every single thing that we do, a tennis racquet, is all given us by nature. But we do not think. It is all participant from this incredible rule of the revolutionibus, the revolving.
And in this must come somewhere a huge vision that concerns education. We are inclined to be taught that twice two is four, and that this is this and that is that, and when we regurgitate it on paper with pen and ink, or repeat it, we can get a graduation upon it. And that when we go and regurgitate it again, wind it out for somebody else, they can wind it out, and they get graduated. And so it goes on and it goes on and it goes on until there are libraries and libraries and piles of books and reams and reams. And what is going to happened in three thousand years with everybody trying to read all that and regurgitate it all?
Doesn’t the forest change? The whole forest changes. Where are the pterodactyls? Where are the ()? Where are the dinosaurs? We don’t know. We’re really not very clever. They’ve all changed, that’s all. Every tree that drops seed, none of the children are identical to the tree. We just say, “Oh, they’re metasequoias.” They’re all (?). It’s actually nonsense. There isn’t any such thing. We live in an attic of words. And we believe them intimately. And it’s complete unutterable rubbish. Every seed that is reborn in this world is beautiful. It is thought identical to the parent. It cannot be identical to the parent. The only repetition that we ever make in the garden is when we take a piece of a parent limb and plant it. You see, we are even so statically ourselves in cages, that we actually believe that a tree is a tree.
Have you not ever realized that all the buds on a tree are an enormous family. They are all really seedlings with little roots that live through the bark into the pith of the great parent. For you can take any one of those buds, and stick them into an origin root, and they would grow. And the whole bush or tree that you have done that to would be what the bud was. But if you take the seed from that tree, the origin root will have its total inference in the matter. And none of it will come true. Therefore all classic repetition in the garden, in horticulture, must come through seed. Seed is the rebirth of origin, and is part of totality, and is part of invisibility.
Now enters the whole thinking of Steiner and those enormous visionaries. And they all discovered the huge import of this matter, that if you take the contents of an herb, or if you take the contents of water, or an insect and separate it and give it names, you haven’t got the total of the plant or the insect at all. It doesn’t add up.
I will give you the instance again, of Dr. Durach(?). In 1921, a man who kept white mice, and fed them all upon milk, and they were terribly happy and terribly well, and proliferated. And so, since this was the huge calumnious time of the industrial age into agriculture he wanted to prove certain things. So he said, “Now we will go into the laboratory, we will take milk to pieces and then we will put it together and feed the mice. So, they took the milk into the laboratory, they took it into its five(?) areas, and they fed the mice upon the partitions put together. And all the mice died. So they went back into the laboratory and dissected it properly and took it to pieces and fed the mice, and they all died. And they did it three times and decided there was something radically wrong. Well, instead of looking at ancient mythology, and the whole story of Psyche, they went on, and one of them suddenly said, “Of course, I’ve got it. I know! How silly we are. Of course, it is…. It is vitamins. The one thing that we left out and that we haven’t discovered is vitamins.” And all of them said, “You know, I’ve always known he’s brilliant, that one, absolutely brilliant. You see, we didn’t see it. It’s vitamins.” And you see they’re still doing it. They’ve gone from A to Z. They’ve gone into X and unknown quantities and they’re still looking for vitamins. Has anybody ever found the germ inside the seed? You can’t do it. You go on undoing cases and cases and cases.
All that I’m really arriving at is this incredible vision that concerns the biodynamic approach not only in living but principally in horticulture. And it is, that behind the whole of our living, behind all the plants, and all the manifestation, is a spirit, invisible. You can’t talk about it. It’s not even tangible. And this is the precise reason why all great gardeners, really great gardeners are really illiterates. I studied under some of the greatest gardeners in the world, and they were completely illiterate. They couldn’t even pronounce the Greek and Latin names. And they were great and superb illustrators, because they always had to draw.