Make a suitable control measure, for weed, insect or animal pests using the methods detailed in the agriculture lectures
(1.1) In the valley, there is an imbalance in the ecosystem, which has lead to an increase in the rabbit population. During the winter when there is not much forage available for the rabbits, then they gnaw through the fruit trees across the valley. This includes the soft fruits, and apple trees. They gnaw through the outer layer of bark and into the vascular cambium, which can open up the tree to disease, and disrupts the circulation of water and nutrients moving through the tree.
We applied chicken wire to the base of each apple tree in the valley. This works very well, however sometimes the wire is pushed up, and this leaves an area that can be gnawed on by the rabbits. We have a tree paste, which is made from clay, crushed garlic, chili flakes, and the biodynamic preparations. This is applied to effected areas on the tree. The rabbits don’t like the taste of garlic and chilis.
In biodynamics barks is understood to be an extension of the soil, this is why it is very important to cover the area with a paste. Applying the paste is a holistic and reasonable measure to deal with the rabbit issue, until spring arrives with more forage for them.
Due to the rabbits, we have had to put in a 3 foot chicken wire fence around the whole market garden. We tried with a more aesthetic electric fence, but the rabbits were still squeezing through. We caught this on a night camera. We also had to make sure to close the polytunnel doors completely before leaving, as the rabbits would exploit any gap.
We have considered trapping a rabbit and making a pepper. But by following our control measures, I don’t think this would be necessary, unless the imbalance persists over the next couple years.
Describe the role of equisetum tea for plant health
I first discovered horsetail in Sardinia, my friends has finished his jar of equisetum tea, and wanted me to collect some on the way back from a waterfall I used to swim in. I found it growing on the banks of the stream. When I got back, we cut them up into small pieces, and let them dry out in the sun. My friend explained that it was good for our bones, and skin. It also tasted pretty good, and gave me a good break from coffee. The next time I encountered this plant was while researching biodynamics.
(1.2) When used as a preparation or tea, horsetail can provide plants with a rich source of essential minerals, such as silica, potassium, and calcium. These nutrients play a crucial role in strengthening plant cell walls, improving water uptake and nutrient absorption, and enhancing overall plant vigour. Additionally, horsetail tea contains high levels of natural antioxidants and phytochemicals, which can help protect plants from diseases, pests, and environmental stressors. On the fish farm, horsetail 508 is sprayed into the ponds to reduce fungal activity.
Demonstrate the ability to prepare and apply an animal or plant pepper
(2.1) This winter, as part of a session with students, we created a couch grass pepper. We weeded the flower bed and market garden, collecting 5-6 crates of couch grass. We didn’t want to compost , so they had to be burned. We brought them over to the fish farm, and made a fire, before adding the couch grass. The photograph below on the right shows the amount of couch grass.
A couple days later, we retuned to collect the pepper. We spread it over all of our compost beds, garden beds, and inside the polytunnel. By reintroducing the constitutes of the couch grass back into the soil, it may reduce the need of the couch grass to grow there, as it will be there in a homeopathic degree.
Demonstrate the making and application of equisetum tea
(2.2) Equisetum arvense is collected and boiled for 15 minutes, before being diluted in water the next day and sprayed onto plants to help minimize fungal infestation. In the valley at Ruskin Mill College, horsetail grows in abundance alongside the edges of the main path, between the stream, and ponds. The biodynamic association often come to the valley to collect their equisetum.
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