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From the book 'Developing Biodynamic Agriculture'

Posted: 02 Nov 2006, 10:00
by Mark
This is an extract about using peppers from the book 'Developing Biodynamic Agriculture' by Adalbert Count Keyserlingk who was 19 when the Agriculture course was held at his father's Koberwitz estate.
Keyserlingk wrote:The large fireplace in our Sasterhausen laboratory was excellent for making the ash preparations. I just had to make sure sufficient seeds and skins were to hand. We used different sieves to get the charlock seed for the thrashing machines clean, removing all wheat grains. The seeds were then ashed. We did small scale experiments first in experimental beds and later used the method in the field, with the help of Miss Hasche (later in charge of the observatory at Dornach). A whole bucketful of charlock seed was burned for one field experiment. Before that, we had already established that the seeds must not remain in an incandescent state for long in the ashing process. The temperature had to be kept relatively low so that the incandescent phase was missed out and a browny ash would remain. Years earlier I had used the process on a checken farm in England and found that the power which is the opposite of the germinating power is lost at red heat.

The 6-ha field looked after by Miss Hache soon showed results. A line as straight as if drawn with a ruler went down the middle of it. One half, where the 'pepper' had been scattered, was completely free of charlock, the other half was soon full of the bright yellow flowers. Sadly, the photographs taken at the time were lost during the war.

The experiments with mice, such a plague on many farms, were most interesting. I was lucky to have a lady on the staff who did not mind skinning mice and rats and putting them on stretchers to dry. We had many mice on our fields and animal houses. I offered the children a penny for every mouse and soon had not only sufficient skins but also the cadavers. These I put into a barrel to rot down completely. This 'compost' was then brought out together with the ash from the skins. Soon not a single mouse was to be found anywhere in the manor house or the experimental gardens, which covered quite a large area.

For another experiment I had concrete boxes made with subdivisions. The top and front of each compartment was open and we put in wire mesh, giving us a row of cages separated by concrete partitions that were about two fingers in thickness. For the experiment, a bag filled with mouse pepper was suspended from the top of the first cage on the left. The mice put in the cages - there were up to 10 of them - were of course all given the same food. We wanted to know if and how the suspended pepper would have an effect on them. The animals on the cages soon died in a sequence that went from left to right. Experiments with the ash of white mice gave a similar result though not quite as definite. We also scattered the ash of rat skins and soon no longer had any rats in the gardens, nor any water voles, though the mill stream had been full of these for a long time. Rats continued as before, however, in the poultry houses that were about 1.5 kilometres away.

It is difficult to get open results in open territory. The experiments I did at that time did however show that:
- ash taken through the red hot stage has no effect, whilst ash that is still slightly brown does, i.e it still contains carbon:
- the distance between the ash and creature plays a role
- rotted down cadavers also have an effect