As Avondale’s vines and fruit trees fall into dormancy at the end of Autumn, we turn our attention to another Biodynamic practice which has multiple benefits. Tree paste, which is also used on vines and bushes is not one of the original practices offered by Rudolph Steiner. Rather it has been developed and used by later, influential proponents such as Maria Thun and is today, incorporated in the farming of many Biodynamic practitioners around the world.
The bark of a tree or vine is viewed as an extension of the plant’s root system and its optimal condition is essential to overall health and thriving. The idea is to treat the bark of the dormant fruit tree or vine with a nourishing paste that protects and promotes health. There are many variations of the recipe for the paste which is either applied with a paint brush, or you can use a runnier version that can be applied with a spray gun. Whichever method you use, the paste is essentially a substance that you can paint over the bark.
Each Winter we prepare and apply a Biodynamic tree paste to our vines and fruit trees. We use the clay from our own dams which is very close in fineness to Bentonite clay and nicely imbued with the energies of place. We go through a process of cleaning and filtering the clay using a natural source of water.
We use BD508 as the base with its wonderful source of rich energies and silica, to this we add the clay, Horn Manure, Horn Silica, Cow Pat Pit and possibly Horn Clay. Any insect or pest peppers can be added as well.
Then, to the above mix, we will add fulvic acid (which can be replaced by earthworm leachate) and concentrated sea solids.
Whatever we decide to use in the tree paste recipe can be determined by a soil analysis or by dowsing that highlights any mineral deficiencies that we want to be corrected by the paste. You might discover that zinc or copper or manganese or phosphate needs to be added. Natural rock powders can be added to meet these kind of needs.
Cow manure is another important ingredient. Ideally, you want to use fresh, wet manure from pasture-reared cows, so our Avondale herd makes for an easy source of this. We also add volcanic rock dust and quicklime with the manure.
During the mixing of the ingredients, we use raw linseed oil to provide a sticky, painterly quality to the paste that will help it harden well and withstand the rains. The preparation of the paste includes the typical Biodynamic potentizing of the mixture where the paste is stirred into a vortex in one direction, and then back again. This vibrant stirring of the paste takes 15 to 20 minutes.
We prepare the vines and trees for the application of the Biodynamic tree paste by first brushing down the bark which removes loose material, old bits and other debris. For a small scale application you can apply the paste with paintbrushes. However, for efficient applications in large orchards and vineyards, you will probably want to make a runnier mixture and apply with a paint spray gun.
At Avondale, we use about 300 litres of paste per hectare as you want to cover as much of the bark as possible. The first application happens usually at the end of Autumn when all the leaves have fallen. If the Winter rains are heavy, we might repeat the application in early Spring before any evidence of buds.
If you are interested in an example of the Biodynamic tree paste recipe that we use, please leave a comment and we will share it with you.