Lecture by Alan Chadwick in New Market, Virginia, 1979
Lecture 6, Fertilization, Part 4
An Introduction to Alan Chadwick's Lectures and a Glossary of Terms
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Turf loam continued. Roots of grasses are of great value in building fertility. Balance of lay crops to garden area. Optimum ratio is 2/3 lay to 1/3 garden, but never less than 1/3 lea. Building the turf loam compost pile in the classic manner. Sand must sharp to be effective. Not sea sand or calcium sands. Sand should constitute 1/3 of potting soil. Worms and how to produce them in compost. Moisture in connection to fertilizations. Legumes as hosts to bacteria and how this builds fertility. Quality much more important than quantity. Lime to balance sour soils. It is a mistake to use lime to break down manures rapidly. Stalks of dried plants nearly useless in compost, but can be used in other ways or even burned. Sunflower stalks can add roughage to compost, but it takes time to break it down. Sawdusts are problematic as they do not decompose like whole stalks. Bone meal and hoof and horn meal. Pine needles with raspberries. No absolutes in the garden. (15:36)
New Market, Virginia, September 11, 1979
Lecture 6, Fertilizations, Part 4
And you must understand that the roots, as well as the stalks and leaves, particularly in grass, are equally important. When you grow leeks, you are hugely adding to the soil in a wonderful composture of the endless roots of leeks, which go like that, bruugh, a huge mass. There is a great iceberg underneath and only a little tiny thing above. Whereas with the dahlia, there is a little tiny tuber underneath and a huge, great, voluptuous performance going on. Now this whole turf loam, two inches above the turf and its compost and two inches below in its root, and the soil which is created out of that root, is of the utmost purport and is what you might call the exquisite loam of the garden. Turf loam. It should be grown in lea.
And you understand that your balance of lea in the garden and the farm should be never less than one-third of the total area and if possible, advantageous up to two-thirds and, of course, more. But you should think within those areas when you allocate the use of your garden, a third to two-thirds should be lea, weeds.
And therefore, turf loam should be grown every year, sown with clover. All turf grows better with clover, grows worse with ranunculus and buttercup. In other words, both the clover and the turf grow best together, the grass. And that that can be cut each year with a particular cutter, two inches deep, the grass having been cut at two inches. So you have got four inches, stacking it face-to-face and root-to-root, and face-to-face and root-to-root in these sods, as it’s called. And then you label it to the year that you have stacked it. And so you stockpile it and you produce it, either into bedding soil or potting soil or seeding soil. And according to what you want, you either turn it or leave it. The more you turn it and water it, of course, you get rid of the seed performance, which when you want it for bedding you don’t want to be rid of, but when you want it for seeding you do. And therefore you have these great piles throughout the composting and the leaf mold areas and the manure mold areas, of the turf loam. I won’t go further with it. It must be born clearly in mind that it’s one of the huge participants, as is leaf mold, and as is manure, and as is compost.
The next enormity concerned in that is sharp sand, grit. Now that must be sharp. It cannot be a calcium performance. It can’t be taken from the salt beach. It must then come from a quarry or from the base of mountains with granitics, but the more mineral the better. And that sharp sand or grit should be literally a third performance of all soils of the garden and the agriculture, in particular the potting and seed raising and more emphasis on it, of course, in propagation. Vermiculite will help in the matter because it is a form of natural sharp, but it is not the best answer.
Worms we discussed yesterday and I again bring it up, of course, in the fertilizations because here is where they are born, in the manufacture of composts. Composting of manure and the composting of composts will all create the birth of worms, particularly at the base. And they can all be applied with that compost into the beds and both resuscitated and performed anew in all areas where the worms are not, and can be produced in any degree of quantity. The cultivators and the fertilizers of the garden. Have you ever known the finding of worms in soil without extraordinarily beautiful moistures? [inaudible] connected with worms is unique. As is the color of that carnation, as a color unique to that carnation, so is the performance of manure and moisture to a worm unique. As indeed is its very little tunnel, to aerate in its cultivation, unique. It is a magical performance.
You see how the whole garden is full of secrets and mysteries. Every little alley you look down are secrets. Well, they are all revealable to the gardener, but you can’t talk about it.
The methods of watering… all of those must be kept fertile. We have discussed this when we discussed fertility, that all of these heaps, as required, such as wood ash must be collected immediately it is burned and has gone out, and must be placed in drought. And so bone meal and lime must be placed in drought. For they are that end of the swing of the pendulum, whilst the others come down in ratios between, and must be placed in semi-moistures and never left out of semi-moisture. They must never allowed to be drought or bog. Now when you get pondweeds, the Potamogetons, and the numerous other weeds and seaweeds, you want to keep them almost bogged. Do you see? You’ve got the whole thing from the pole to Cancer and Capricorn and the equator.
In discussing the composting plants of weeds and seeds, I must allude now quickly to those that produce bacteria on the root. For here is one of the most huge and important matters of fertilization of atmosphere, and fertilization of atmosphere in the soil. That, known as bacteria on root, produced among certain plants and apparently only certain plants, makes the capacity of new plants feeding or rather hunting amongst it and breathing amongst it, ahahh, ahahh, ahahh, as that bacteria increases in the soil as a spawn, makes it more capable of it, of digesting. In other words, it acts as a synergist. And that particularly concerning the words that we have come to use that are so stupid, like nitrates and nitrogen. It makes it possible for the new plants to consume that with great voracity.
It was this that the Greeks discovered in those plants, that when they plowed in clover and lupine, the annual blue lupine, and other such plants, that they produced that matter making their cereals. After two plowings in of those bacterial plants, they had an enormous quantity of that then in the soil, so that when they grew their wheat, the wheat performed in an excruciating matter, in very small tight areas, close together, of voluminous import of quality. Now you will see that in due course, this attitude of the soil and its fertility outrages the balance in the scale of quality against quantity. That quantity has no place in the scale at all. That quality can so override quantity, that quantity has no import whatever when it comes to supreme flavor and nutritive values, and import particularly in the production of seed.
Now when I mentioned the use of lime to be used in the destructive periods, which we looked at yesterday and which are similar here... That if you had soil which had become over-acid or to the degree of the word sour, probably through a lack of drainage or due to heavy climactic difficulties, or if you had an invasion of slug and snail or particular matters that your birds and animals were not looking after, the use of live lime spread on the ground will re-sweeten that very suddenly. But it is an erratic.
You should never burn into ash anything that you can decompose, for you have overridden the Sun’s benefic into, in a sense, its malefic.
Therefore I refer to that lime as being only usable within its restricted attitude. You must not use it loosely every year as the agriculturist has come to do. The moment he thinks he has got an acid attitude in the soil, he will use live lime. And that is not applicable at all. It must be looked into much more carefully. Likewise you will hear that if you will apply live lime or even, of course, basic slag or agricultural lime to manure, you will break down the performance of that manure so that you can use it instantly. That is utterly false. If you will use live lime or any of those limes indeed with very fresh manure, very gaseous performing manure, particularly pig and cow which contain the utmost here, you will not only not make it usable to the plants, as it were, you will add to its destructive performance by the two becoming malefic and making a plus. And that the gaseous performance, of the two gases of both added, make it impossible for the plant and it will stagnate in the gases instead of luxuriating upon them. Did you follow that? It is a little bit complicated, but that should make it clear. Many people don’t comprehend this.
Now the stalks of certain dried plants… If you take the maize, the corns… I can’t tell you very much what to do because I studied these abroad, particularly in Africa, and the content appears to be literally nil. As a compost it’s nil. As a thatching matter it’s invaluable. So it has great purposes for barns, great purposes for building wind breaks and walls, and numerous such matters, particularly concerning drains, which obviously are a replica to thatching. There is some degree of purport in its ash. But that again is very little.
However, when you come to the great stalks of Helianthus tuberosa and Helianthus gigantica and many similar, but those two in particular… Now you may be growing those, as you should indeed, for seed and for such other performances. Now the stalks have great importance to a textural compost, for they take time to break down. And therefore if you use them at the bottom of trenches where you need good drainage, and where you need that that good drainage in time should have turned into a good compost as well, there you have got the perfect performance. As you have got oak boughs, dead oak boughs, as you have got dead beech boughs, they are invaluable in such a drainage.
Now look you that the sawdust from oak and the sawdust from beech and the sawdust from pine trees—and indeed pine trees little can be used in the matter that I have referred to beech and oak—but none of them in producing sawdust break down as the dead boughs do. You have got that thing that we spoke about yesterday in the capillary. That powder does not break down as texture does. Do you remember our reference to that? And that you can have sawdust for ten years on the ground and it is still deleterious. But that you can use dead oak boughs on the ground and they are applicable within a year. Do you see, a huge matter there that is specifically secret? You can’t really dissect it.
Now amongst the whole family of plants that object to lime and the calciums generally that we have nominated basic slag, you can use bone meal and hoof-and-horn, bone meal to a small degree, but hoof-and-horn, because the hoof-and-horn, interestingly, are more exterior, rather like green leaves in compared to the roots of carrots, Petroselinum [parsley] related to a turnip. But you can use those for that whole family that object to lime, and that is the whole family of camellia, rhododendron, magnolia, azalea, the Ucrifias[?] and the whole of that enormous family.
It is interesting that raspberries grow extremely well on pine needles, as they do on oak leaves. Do you see this interplay? The garden is full of secrets. You cannot ever statisticize and say, “This is this, and that is that, and there we are. We know exactly what we are talking about.” Any gardener who knows exactly what he is talking about—push him through the hedge. Don’t let him go through the gate because that’s a secret, of course. You must ever only enter the garden gate frontward and go out backwards.
Now in many of the weed areas…