Saturday, June 18, 2011


Pests are a part of our ecology, and for this reason, I respect them. But when they do damage to my livelihood, I don't feel so bad about taking measures to get rid of them.

A farmer battles with many forms of pests: animals, insects, bacteria, fungi, viruses and weeds. Each battle depends on the pest at hand. And some battles can take over your life... this is, presumably, why insecticides, agricultural antibiotics and herbicides were invented and are now overused. But as an organic producer, we won't use synthetic or chemical products to protect our plants. 

Instead, we use row covers, our fingers, predator urine, companion planting, beneficial insects, we make sure our soil's healthy, and some use organic sprays. And after a recent visit to a biodynamic farm, the Pfeiffer Center, I was introduced to the concept of "peppering."

You can read about this art in Rudolf Steiner's own words to understand the meaning behind the method. I'll explain briefly in the case of peppering to prevent weeds: When a weed goes to seed, collect the seeds, place them in a metal container and burn them in a hot fire. Collect the ashes from these seeds, mix them with the wood ash from the fire, and sprinkle this ash around your garden where you do not want these weeds to grow. With the case of insects you would burn the whole insect and with the case of animals you would burn the hide. You can repeat this process several times a year and you can follow Steiner's word on the appropriate times to do it (based on the moon and other cosmic forces). After three to four years, you should be virtually pest-free.

There is a lot to remark on this method. For one, if you kill the groundhog eating your broccoli and you do this in successive years, you'll have exterminated the problem and maybe the burning/sprinkling didn't do anything. Also, if it takes three to four years, what should I do in the meantime to protect my plants?!? But if you do read Steiner's lecture and study biodynamic farming, you might be led to believe in the power of peppering.

1 comment:

  1. Steiner's biography is pretty amazing. I'd say he did a few things in his life.