Lecture by Alan Chadwick in New Market, Virginia, 1979
Lecture 5: Cultivation, Part 3
An Introduction to Alan Chadwick's Lectures and a Glossary of Terms
The full text of this lecture segment
Contents of this Segment:
Fear of death in plants. Analogy to human life. Building soil. Cappilliary action. Breaking hard-pan. Standard length of a French Intensive bed and how to build it in imitation of a landslide. When to cultivate and when not to cultivate. Never walk upon the cultivated soil, so construction of paths is important. The tragedy of compaction. (13:12)
New Market, Virginia, 1979
Lecture 5, Cultivation, Part 3
... and it simply fires away into that bloom. So what do you get? Comes out much earlier, so you get a small bunch of leaves, very nice and bunchy, and in very good condition, and the blossom, simply overweighing, with a great head, and that's exactly what the gardener has aimed at. Whilst in the bed, these foliages are going on, ad infinitum, making this huge orgy of foliage, and inside is a little bunch of buds, just beginning. And so this pot plant looks at it and says “Well, I must say”. And, eventually, you’ve got two different propositions. They look different, but the point is, this is what the wife of the house wants, when the wife of the next house calls, and she wants to show her what she’s done. Now the whole of that was exactly like bark-ringing a fruit tree. If you bark-ring a tree right round, and leave just a little tiny area for the sap to come up, what will you get if you do that this summer? Next year, the whole of that tree will be forced into blossom to a degree of lunacy. Fear of end, fear of death demands instant re-creation. Do you not see it in the city? Do you not see it in the offices and the businesses and the commercial life? It’s all hidden there in that terrible procedure. However, we must not touch upon that. What I’m pointing at is that where you get degrees of restriction you get extra degrees of performances. And therefore, that was the object of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon over planting in the floods of the Euphrates.
Now, let us look at our soils, and the building of them then. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon was a bit far fetched, just like a great deal of conservatory work is far fetched, is complicated. Therefore, the building of the soil should be done in beds, and that it is always preferential, unless you are growing extensive areas of, shall we say, cereals, or extensive areas of lea, and in various such cases, but which are minimal, the great majority of plants, of all kinds of plants really, are Alpine. There are not many that belong to the dank valleys, and therefore they’re happier on escalations. And that with escalation, you have got the similarity of performance that you have got with landslide. You see you’ve got beds coming out of beds with stone walls, and you’ve got the play of the revolutionibus playing into those stone walls, into all of those roots, and the moment that it begins to get contaiged, you’ve gone up one. And that all of the moistures, and the capillaries operate through them all, through each other. Whereas in a flat area, you’ve only got a condensation and a lack of drainage in that area. But in escalations you’ve got a total drainage going, and you’ve got a water system which begins at the top and goes down through them. And that that capillary of those escalations is vastly superior as a natural water supply of being drawn up by the moon to, of course, flat lands. It’s a hundred times advantageous, from a point of view of moisture.
Again, you must realize, that in order to bring about revolutionibus into your soil—and you realize, that that, the enormous importance now, of revolutionibus entering your soil, the whole planetary performance—you have got to break what is called “hardpan”. Now, it doesn’t matter whether you have clay, or sand, or intermediate, or peat, or what type of soil you’ve got. Even in sand you will have the hardest of hardest hardpans, thin as it may be. And that hardpan, as you know, is anywhere, usually, about a foot and a half, down to three feet, somewhere, within that area. That hardpan has got to be broken if you want good drainage of the soil, and if you want revolutionibus to enter your soil and if you want capillary. For you cannot have capillary, with a hardpan there, successful, neither will you have revolutionibus, neither will you have drainage. So you have got to break that hardpan, and that is absolutely unarguable. That doesn’t to mean to say that you have got to dig that depth every year, but that it’s got to be resuscitated from time to time to keep it open, and that is most important. Now, in that cultivation we have our assistants, we’ll talk about those in a moment. But previous to that, let us look at how we ought to do it. Because you see, if you’ve got to go down two foot, or even three foot, to break that hardpan, it is possible that you will have a poorer soil, a less fertile, verdant soil underneath than on the surface. Usually your top two inches are supreme, and as you go down it becomes less and less, ardently fertile, shall we say. Now that’s not always the case. Quite frequently, with alluvial deposits, you can have a superior soil at three foot down, and that you must come to discriminate and find. If you have, then there’s no harm in turning it up, in fact, it’s advantageous to bring that to the surface, but, it is somewhat rare, but should be utilized.
Now you understand that when you are making escalating beds, you literally build those beds. And therefore any such soils that you get from anywhere are put in their proper appropriations when those beds are built. And it is a great advantage to build those beds, because once built, they’re there. They are permanent. And you know the conditions of them. Otherwise, you’ve got to look as to whether you turn-dig or slide-dig, and that, in other words, your first area must be removed. Let us say you are going to start one of these French Intensive beds, about fifty foot long by the width of this table, and you're going to go fifty feet long. So you will take away this table’s length and width in a wheelbarrow, going down with a spade through your first beautiful soil. You take it right away and put it in a pile, and label it number one. You then come to number two, which is a very, very good topsoil, but not as good as the first, and you find that you go down a foot. So with the spade, you take that out, and you take that away and you label it number two. Now you find that you are on to a marm, with a small amount of gravel in it, and you are down at one foot, two inches, and you’ve to go down, you’ll find, another foot, to get to your hardpan. So you take a fork, and you remove the one foot of that, and you label that number three. Now you take a pick axe or a fork or such implement as will enter the hardpan. You break that hardpan and you go well through it, you make sure you’re right through it, loosen it up utterly.
And now you take your soils as they come, adjacent. And here, you’ve got to be careful, because you’ve got to place your lower subsoil on top of your hardpan, and then the others on top. And therefore they must be taken off in that rotation. But you must always open up, and you must always in all of your hoeing even and cultivation, you must always remove your area first. Then you’ve got that whole area to work like that, envelope it and then put it back at the end. Otherwise you’re working against yourself the whole time. You understand that tomorrow we deal with fertilizations, and therefore I’m not discussing the fertilizations that go into that bed today. We’re discussing the cultivation.
Now in all cases, when that bed is built, it will be raised, whether it be an escalating bed, or whether it be in the flat land. It will be a raised bed so as to have flow of atmosphere, as well as drainages, and the performance, at the sides, of revolutionibus. We’ve turned it into a landslide. Now, let us look for a moment—we will go to discuss later when it is permissible to do this—when we may open up the skin of the earth, and cultivate, and leave it exposed to the elements, and when we may not. For that is very dire. But remember that all soils that are going to be occupied as growing areas must never be walked upon. Therefore it is adroit and important that your vias, your walkways are manufactured at the first stage, that those beautiful soils that are in those vias and walkways shall be piled and used as stock pilings, and that your paths shall be made from the first moment and kept, and that therefore these beautiful soils are never walked upon. Realize that once you have dew and rains and snows, and you walk upon the skin of the soil, you will bruise it worse than you bruise a plant. Frequently it takes years to undo such a bruising. You know if you make a brick and bake it, what happens. It is something like that when you walk upon wet soil, you destroy its textural quality, and you adhese it together, and it takes the elements and performances a year, or very often years, to undo. This is the great tragedy of today’s farming, of course, compaction. It’s one of the hugest tragedies against the whole of nature that’s going on ad infinitum.
Now, the great assistants here, You see we’ve talked about going down three feet. In some gardens that one has manufactured, people have manufactured, one sometimes has to go down five feet, you may strike a hard pan right down at five feet, and...