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Biodynamic Tree Paste  RSS feed

 
Travis Philp
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Here's a link with an overview and recipe:
https://secure43.websitewelcome.com/~misc0001/article.php?artid=276

Has anyone here tried it or know anyone who has? I'd like to give it a go this year.
 
Ken Peavey
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I found the book for $5.50

I've never heard tell of such a thing as tree paste.  Looking at the recipe, manure/sand/clay/water, if it was aerated, it would not be unlike compost tea.  I suspect the clay and sand fills the cracks and voids that these pests would use as a home.

How thick is it applied?  Are we talking coating the tree with plaster or a wash?  Your link speaks of paintbrush application, leads me to think the objective is a heavy slurry.  What are the indications for use? 

 
Travis Philp
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The quote below from the article I sited above leads me to believe that yes, it is much like compost tea. I remember reading on a message board that someone found painting to be a real time consuming pain in the butt so they just liquified the mixture, strained it, and sprayed it. My trees and bushes are so young right now that it wouldn't take very long at all to paint them but the spraying sounds a lot more sane for anyone with more than a few trees. Here's the quote:

"We have even sprayed it on green foliage,when this was attacked by pests and fungi (rust for instance and mildew)"

As for the thickness of the painted application...

I found this video on youtube just now that covers making the recipe, tools and materials needed, and how to apply it. (oh the powers of the internet) At about 4:40 minutes into the video they zoom in to the tree to show the paste on there and it looks pretty thick.






 
                    
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Thanks for posting! We're going to try that stuff.  There are large deposits of diotamatious earth around here, it's a good flea remedy too. 
 
Ken Peavey
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my connection speed is too slow to watch video clips.

Let me know if this solves any specific problems.
 
Travis Philp
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I hope to keep the group updated with video and/or pictures of this and other projects. Here's hoping I have the presence of mind to keep the camera along.
 
paul wheaton
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The cow manure is supposed to feed the cambium layer of the tree and the DE/sand prevents insects from making new holes in the bark.

Seems like a general maintenance thing for good orchard health, but can be used as a rescue remedy.  Towards the end of the video one of the women says she applied tree paste to a lemon tree with infestations of scale insects and bronze orange bugs.  Within a week, there were new leaves, it fully recovered, and now bears excellent fruit

The ladies say to apply it in the descending moon, in the winter, but for us it makes sense to put it on in early summer, as the rain stops.  So that's what we plan to do very soon with the worst off of our old and battered apple trees, and I'll post here about the results later in the year. 
 
Chelle Lewis
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Started reading up a bit on biodynamics. Quite a large subject and very interesting.

Chelle
 
Steven Baxter
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I was told tree paste also helps to protect tree from heat. I went to a grafting workshop and people there were talking about painting there tree white to protect it from strong heat from the sun. The heat sometimes "burns" the new growth. I guess the bio dynamic paste is just more natural than paint.
 
John Polk
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I remember, as a kid, seeing many trees "painted white" on the lower trunk.  I was told that it was to keep ants and other bugs from crawling up into the trees.  I imagine that there was some kind of insecticide in the concoction.  It was common to see entire orchards "painted" for the first 3-4 feet.

Perhaps if you added Plantskyyd to the brew, you could do double duty against deer also.
 
Travis Philp
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So I painted most of my fruit trees and bushes with a paste mix the other day, after a light pruning of some branches that were rubbing, or weak and trimming some branches that were browsed by deer. I left them unprotected from browse for this long because I was hoping that the deer would leave them alone. I'm trying to see how little I can get away with in terms of tree care. I guess I'll have to take measures every year, as I figured I probably would have to. I'm hoping that the paste will deter any further munching.

My trees are only 2 years old so there wasn't too much to paint but it still took quite awhile. If I do this again I'll go with the spray rather than the paste. Some trees I painted all above ground surfaces, some I only painted the trunk, some only the trunk and terminal buds, and some I left alone. I'm somewhat concerned that if the paste is on too thick it'll retard the buds from leafing out but I have faith.

I'd post pictures but there's not too much to look at. Picture a 6 foot tall fruit tree that looks like it just came back from woodstock '69 (It's covered in mud!)
 
Shawn Harper
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So Travis how did the painting experiment work out?
 
Judith Browning
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Shawn Harper wrote:So Travis how did the painting experiment work out?


I'm wondering how the tree paste worked also. I would like to try something similar on our fruit trees over the winter. I've been using a wood ash paste on peach tree trunks...works well to deter borers
 
Alicia Gauld
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Hi. I've used tree paste with success over the years...good for deterring rabbits & wallabies (in our neck of the woods!). We add casuarina to ours as it's high in silica much like equisetum which is normally added as well as compost preps &/or BD 500, which suggests it's also a fungal deterrant. I've done it thick by hand, but best results are stain & spray. Don't forget those pruning wounds...
Happy pasting.
 
John Saltveit
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A lady that I've met here in the PNW tried it and it worked really well. Her trees were filled with bugs, and now they're perfectly healthy. She said to put it on in the winter dormant season. It's manure mixed with sand and clay I think. I'm going to try it in this coming winter.
John S
PDX OR
 
Adam Klaus
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I applied it to my trees this past February, and have seen excellent results. Despite living in an arid climate, I had evidence of fungal issues in the bark of my trees. Black, sooty residues and cracking in the trunk surface. After applying the tree paste, my tree trunks are smooth and blemish-free. The trees are growing more vigorously than before, and appear healthier in all regards.

Considering the ease of making and applying the tree paste, it is something I will do every year henceforth.

My recipe was cow manure and native soil (half and half), a dose of Biodynamic barrel compost, and horsetail tea to get the texture nice and smear-able.

good luck!
 
Michael Newby
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John Polk wrote:I remember, as a kid, seeing many trees "painted white" on the lower trunk.  I was told that it was to keep ants and other bugs from crawling up into the trees.  I imagine that there was some kind of insecticide in the concoction.  It was common to see entire orchards "painted" for the first 3-4 feet.


A big reason for doing that is to help the trees adapt to their new home. Nursery trees are usually grown packed tight so they shade each other out and force vertical growth. This tight spacing also prevents much wind from making very far into a nursery stand. Once planted, the trees are usually on a much wider spacing in a newly cleared site with no shade or other protection. The poor little trees warm up on a nice sunny spring day, then a cold evening wind comes ripping through the fledgling orchard and BAM! you have vertical cracks appearing on many of your precious new trees because the outer layers cooled off and shrunk faster than the inside of the tree. The white paint helps to reflect the sunlight so the warm up isn't as extreme and it might provide a minor amount of insulation. The paint also acts as sunscreen because unless you face the trees in the same orientation to the sun that they were before you're running the risk of sunscalding the tree where it gets more exposure than it can handle/has adapted to. As the tree grows its natural adaptations to its growing environment start to kick in and you can allow the paint to crack and peel off over time.

As far as this paste goes I'm definitely going to have to experiment with it. I wonder if you could make a stickier version that you could use as a tangle-foot kind of application near the base of the tree, keep those damn aphid ranching ants off my trees.
 
Stewart Lundy
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I am using the Tree Paste as well. I use diatomaceous clay (not DE), plus paramagnetic rock dust, Azomite, native clay/sand, oil (hemp), cow manure, and all of the biodynamic compost preparations in the form of the Pfeiffer Compost Starter. I let it "ferment" overnight in a warm spot with the preparations in it. I ended up using more clay and manure to make it so I could "paint" it. We apply it thick, immediately after pruning. I'm up in the tree taking the picture and cutting branches. Next time, I might add raw Neem oil to prevent any grubs from boring out and maturing -- the same way that the diatomaceous clay should help prevent adults from boring in.



Michael Phillips has this to say about the Tree Paste:

"Biodynamic tree paste isn't bull but I can understand your asking. The manure introduces beneficial organisms and the clay has long been noted as a skin rejuvenator. The sand acts as a binder. Some people do this mix on a thirds basis; I opt for equal parts fresh manure and native clay, with say about 10% sand. Brush on thick on the trunk and main limbs. Some growers make a watered-down version that can be sprayed. Early spring is the right timing. Pruning out active (infecting) cankers caused by fire blight the year before is still essential, even when this means losing a scaffold limb. But some canker-like wounds are merely a compartmentalized healing response by the tree. Tree paste should help deter perennial canker especially as this fungal infection must renew itself yearly. A manure pack on bacteria-laden bark crevices will check some fire blight before it spreads, yes, but the broader endemic potential still exists on the tiniest twig. Disease-causing bacteria are a ubiquitous force best outcompeted by benign arboreal microbes like Pseudomonas species."
 
John Saltveit
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Yes, I just did this myself and I was surprised to see how many lesions and small cracks there were. Perhaps I wasn't paying enough attention. I am excited to see the results after the garden wakes up. I used 1/3 sticky clay, 1/3 organic cow manure, and 1/3 mixture of sand and diotomaceous earth. Next year I think I'm going to harvest some horsetail (equisetum) before it dies to the ground, freeze it and ferment it as many of the biodynamic groups have done. I may also add a bit of linseed oil if I can find it. It's also supposed to be put on during the waning moon I believe. It seems like a good thing to do!
John S
PDX OR
 
Stewart Lundy
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John Saltveit wrote:Yes, I just did this myself and I was surprised to see how many lesions and small cracks there were. Perhaps I wasn't paying enough attention.


You might be onto something! Painting the entire tree has practical uses (it does help the tree directly) but it also turns MY mind to the tree as a whole. Painting as much of it as I can doesn't take that long (in the annual tally of hours), but it does bring my Intention to each and every square inch of each and every tree -- and not just "the orchard" in the abstract.

John Saltveit wrote:It's also supposed to be put on during the waning moon I believe. It seems like a good thing to do!


Rudolf Steiner indicates that the "New Moon" counts as the moon that is < 50% lit, and the "Full Moon" counts as the moon > 50% lit. Elsewhere, I have read indications that the New Moon has more of a relationship with perennials. Perhaps more importantly, the tree paste should be applied during the descending moon -- when it is moving into the other hemisphere. During the Descending Moon, the sap of the plant is being drawn down to the roots of the tree.

Daily, the sap goes down to the roots by the evening. Monthly, the sap goes even further down with the Descending Moon. Yearly, the sap withdraws from the periphery of the tree (Fall) and goes to the roots. The "best" moment to prune and apply the tree paste would be: in the Evening of the day, during the Descending Moon of the month, and during the winter of the year. If possible, a "Fruit" day can also be chosen. And if available, a waning moon (Steiner's "New Moon"). Those are all favorable factors, most of which won't be happening at once. Sometimes they are, which is nice. What is more important is the cumulative tending of a plant at favorable moments. Descending Moon is important so that the tree paste is drawn into any wounds and crevasses because the sap of the tree is moving strongly downwards to the roots. By adding these cautions, you help prevent the tree from "bleeding out" when you prune.

I would rank pruning and applying Tree Paste in the following order. Each step STARTS with good practices and builds on it. I can't prune in Summer on a "Fruit" day an expect good results:


[EDIT: Where it says "Winter" this cannot be dogmatic. What should be read is "The Correct Season" (as another author indicates) so this list can be read with more flexibility.]

* Pruning in Winter is the most important moment.
* Followed by Winter & Evening.
* Followed by Winter & Evening & Descending Moon.
* Followed by Winter & Evening & Descending Moon & Waning/New Moon.
* Followed by Winter & Evening & Descending Moon & Waning/New Moon & "Fruit" day.

Which gets back to what Rudolf Steiner always said: you can't use biodynamics if you don't first have sound farming practices. A lot of people who say that biodynamics "doesn't work" don't have good practices in the first place. This means the most important part of biodynamics is using all the best regular practices and only then fine tuning the timing. If someone were to use "biodynamics" and get 3/4 of the list above but pruned at the wrong season, then that is not "biodynamics." That isn't even good farming! It doesn't matter if I use the biodynamic compost preparations... if I don't already know how to make good compost!

I was able to do all my Pruning in Winter (January) and in the late afternoon/evening. I was also able to do this on a Descending Moon. I was not able to prune on a Waning/New Moon. But I was able to do most of the work on a "Fruit" day, with only a couple on a "Flower" day. The point is: you have to start with the coarsest and most obvious facts of farming. Only by building on those practices can ANY "subtle forces" start to reveal themselves.

It is most important to tend trees properly, mulch properly, and prune at the right time and in the right way... and ONLY THEN (in my mind) does the question of biodynamics become relevant. Biodynamics should not be a radical change, but merely increased attentiveness. I will say, the biodynamic "tree paste" needs its own timing. I would start by taking the Descending/Ascending Moon into account first. Only extend this as much as you have the time and inclination to maintain your already sound practices.

Here are other places that Michael Phillips talks about the biodynamic tree paste:

"My first action back in early June was to apply biodynamic tree paste to the worst of the bark wounds. This was followed by double-rate sprays of effective microbes in my core holistic brew. I’m certain the fats in neem oil and liquid fish were good for forming healing tissue. Fire blight never showed. The wounds are indeed closing. Opportunists can be dealt with quite effectively when growers emphasize balanced nutrition and competitive colonization. Whew!"

Source: http://www.groworganicapples.com/community-orchardist-newsletter/Community-Orchardist-2011-11.pdf


"The "whitewash" I use in early summer is essentially clay slurry made with pottery-grade kaolin, directed at repelling borer oviposition. Used alone, the whiteness doesn't last much longer than a month but the slippery clay coat does lessen borer activity considerably. I have added a strong slosh of cheap interior latex paint to this slurry in the final August application on young trees where I want the whiteness to last through the winter to protect against bark splitting. (Note: Exterior formulations of latex paint contain ingredients that will hurt underlying bark tissue cells.) I understand some certification groups may frown on interior latex as a whitewash, thus certified organic growers resort to less effective options like quick lime for whiteness. I'm moving more in the direction of biodynamic tree paste in spring and expect to discover that I can forego the latex anyway . . . but I need to prove this to myself over the course of a few years."

Source: http://www.groworganicapples.com/community-orchardist-newsletter/Community-Orchardist-2009-01.pdf
 
John Saltveit
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Excellent post, Stewart. It reminds me of how lab scientists are saying that Echinacea "doesn't work" when it was originally applied by Native Americans to bolster overall body ability to strengthen against disease, not for one particular disease. There are thousands of kinds of compost tea and lab scientists apply one incorrectly and say, "It doesn't work!" These are inappropriate applications of science.

I think another reason people refrain from going into biodynamics is because it is complicated. People want to buy a product that will take away all of their problems instantly. It's too complicated to actually learn about cycles of insects, roots, sap flow, sun, moon, etc. I am learning about biodynamics slowly, because I want to eventually do it well.

I don't like to get too dogmatic on seasons of the year in pruning. Our winters are not frozen and snowy, like Rudolf Steiner's were. Ours are wet and rainy. Pruning peaches and quinces in wet and rainy winter weather is an invitation to disease. I think the concepts need to be applied to the local situation to see if they still fit.
John S
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Stewart Lundy
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Absolutely. The foremost principle is sound farming practices which will be different for each region. Dogmatism is a farmer's worst enemy. Not to stray too far off topic, but when do you choose to prune more sensitive trees? When do you apply your tree paste?
 
John Saltveit
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I just applied my tree paste. I read an article about it last year, and I wanted to do it, but it was April. My mentor in this area said winter dormancy is best. I prune sensitive trees when it is dry. Summers are usually dry here. That's another regional thing. Back east summers are wet, and winters are very, very cold and frozen. Here winters are wet and rainy. Perfect for fungal, viral, and bacterial invasions. Here, summers are bone dry. Stone fruit, quinces, loquats, ceanothus and some others should only be pruned in dry weather, so I will prune them during a high pressure system during any time of year or during summer.
John S
PDXO R
 
Stewart Lundy
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John Saltveit wrote:My mentor in this area said winter dormancy is best [for tree paste].

With a rainy winter, I wonder how much of it remains on the tree itself? Oil seems to help it stick through the rains. Here in the humid South East, it tends to be a wet winter as well.

John Saltveit wrote:I prune sensitive trees when it is dry.


Do you think a tree paste application would help these? If something as sensitive as American Chestnut can be helped resist blight by a mere native soil paste, could a tree paste do the same for a sensitive tree? Your earlier comment about #508 Equisetum might do especially well with stone fruits. But I pruned my peach trees this January. While I applied the tree paste immediately, I will have to see whether they show signs of disease or not... I'll try to remember to update this next year.

Ehrenfried Pfeiffer's indications in Soil Fertility, Renewal and Preservation are as follows:

Among our special measures against fungus diseases we include spraying with preparation 508 (Equisetum arvense). We use this in fruit growing by painting it on the trunk and lower limbs of the trees and by spraying the crown. This must be repeated as often as necessary, and is most effective when begun early as a prophylactic treatment.

Special benefit has also been found from painting the trunk and spraying the crown with a mixture of one-third clay, one-third cow manure, one-third sand and as much water as is needed to make the mixture thin enough to paint or spray. In the water either 500 or 508 may be used. This applied in the autumn and repeated if necessary before sprouting time in the spring. It stays for many months on the trees and helps the formation of a healthy, dense, enclosing bark. It stimulates the cambium layer, heals wounds and stops bleeding of sap, and in general it has shown itself to be of great benefit to the health of trees.

....The following experiment has been tried with the clay, cow manure, and sand paint previously referred to: groups of flower pots were painted with (a) copper and lime mixture; (b) a carbolic acid solution; (c) the above clay, manure, and sand paste; (d) nothing, as a control. Tradescantia shoots of equal size and age were set in a mixture of sand and humus in the pots. After a period of time the plants were dug out and the development of the root weight was determined. The paste (c) had had an especially strong effect on the development of root weight.1

It is advisable to wash down the trees with preparation 508 before using the mixture, having first brushed any fungi and algae off the trunk. An objection is heard--'That makes more work!'--as if the great amount of spraying with every sort of material in recent years did not also make work."

1Average figures for 16 plants in each case.

Weight of the shoots at planting
a. 2.87
b. 2.58
c. 3.0
d. 3.18

Weight of roots in grammes at conclusion
a. 3.51
b. 3.11
c. 6.62
d. 4.11

Weight of green plant parts
a. 35.25
b. 43.17
c. 46.8
d. 49.12

A second experiment:

Weight of the shoots at planting
a. 5.02
c. 4.72
d. 5.05

Weight of roots in grammes at conclusion
a. 6.35
c. 8.73
d. 4.97

Weight of green plant parts
a. 17.23
c. 30.8
d. 28.62

Source: Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, Soil Fertility, Renewal and Preservation, pg. 112.
PDF: http://www.soilandhealth.org/01aglibrary/01aglibwelcome.html
 
John Saltveit
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She showed me the trees from last year that had been painted with the paste and you could still see the paste on the trees, so I think it lasts long enough in this very rainy winter climate.
JohN S
PDX OR
 
John Saltveit
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Sorry I didn't answer the other question. Yes I think paste is better for sensitive trees after pruning in the winter. However, for sensitive trees I think it is even better to prune sensitive trees in dry times, and put paste on in winter.
John S
PDX OR
 
Nick Segner
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John-

We are in your climate (basically.. we're on the Olympic Peninsula) and have an old orchard of 600 apples and other fruit on dwarf rootstock.

We have intense problems with anthracnose canker. Thinking about just summer pruning from now on as you mentioned - when it's dry!

We'd like to do a spray on BD tree paste this late fall after harvest. What's a sprayable recipe you'd recommend?

Nick in Port Angeles
 
John Saltveit
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I've done it once, and it helped. Here is what I did. 1/3 clay. 1/3 organic (biodynamic) cow manure. 1/3 mixture of coarse sand and diotomaceous earth. I added a little ag lime in it, because I had some extra around. Some people get into all kinds of extra things, but the 1/3,1/3,1/3 is the original Rudolf Steiner recipe, I have heard.

I also use compost tea, and that helps a lot as well.
John S
PDX OR
 
Adam Klaus
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John Saltveit wrote:I've done it once, and it helped. Here is what I did. 1/3 clay. 1/3 organic (biodynamic) cow manure. 1/3 mixture of coarse sand and diotomaceous earth. I added a little ag lime in it, because I had some extra around. Some people get into all kinds of extra things, but the 1/3,1/3,1/3 is the original Rudolf Steiner recipe, I have heard.

I also use compost tea, and that helps a lot as well.
John S
PDX OR


I like this recipe a lot. Two things I would add are a unit of BD barrel compost, and to use fermented horsetail tea as the liquid to get your consistency right.

Compost tea works wonders on bark health, and the entire circulatory system of the tree as a result. Easily the best cost/benefit thing to do in the orchard.

good luck!
 
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