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tree bark considered

Posted by Michael Phillips 
tree bark considered
March 13, 2014 06:26PM
Rudolf Steiner speaks in the agricultural lectures about understanding the structure of a tree (it's trunk and branches) as more akin to earth. The green shoots and leaves that arise from this "tree earth" are the plant. What exactly that meant took a long time to penetrate my particularly thick skull ... so let's start this conversation with his published words:

Rudolf Steiner
Consider a tree for example. A tree is different from an ordinary annual, which remains at the merely herbaceous stage. A tree surrounds itself with rind and bark, etc. What is the essence of the tree, by contrast to the annual? Let us compare such a tree with a little mound of earth which has been cast up, and which — we will assume — is very rich in humus, contains an unusual amount of vegetable matter more less in process of decomposition, and perhaps of animal decomposition-products too.
Let us assume: this is the hillock of earth, rich in humus. And I will now make a hollow in it, like a crater. And let this (in the drawing to the right) be the tree: outside, the more or less solid parts, while inside is growing what leads eventually to the formation of the tree as a whole. It may seem strange to you that I put these two things side by side. But they are more nearly related than you would think.
In effect, earthly matter — permeated, as I have now described it, by humus-substances in process of decomposition — such earthly matter contains etherically living substance. Now this is the important point: Earthly matter, which by its special constitution reveals the presence in it of etherically living substance, is always on the way to become plant-integument (bark). ...
The actual life is continued, especially from the roots of the plant, into the surrounding soil. For many plants there is absolutely no hard and fast line between the life within the plant and the life of the surrounding soil in which it is living.

Considering "bark" as an extension of the soil helped me start thinking about the microbe food web reaching from soil to canopy. Add the thoughts about humus and it becomes clear that treating the tree structure more like earth is relevant. Pulsing sprays aimed at the ground in early spring and fall have just as much oomph directed into bark crevices. Tree bark benefits from fatty acid sprays as much as the good microbes living there. Biodynamic tree paste, being a mix of native clay and fresh cow manure, is as much a facial for bark tissues as it is biological reinforcement. Ramial wood chips decomposing on the way to becoming humus are the same as humus becoming cambium. Understanding "etheric living substances" as the life principle being distinct from physical material reality goes deep, I know, yet again tree spirit is very much part of my connection with the orchard and this good earth and our creator. I hold a place for this as much as everything else in discerning how to grow healthy fruit.

Next we go to the rhizosphere, the immediate zone around roots. Plant life is centered here as much as the taking in of sunlight above. Nutrient exchange as facilitated by microbe diversity determines the ability of the tree to stand up to disease and pests more than any other aspect of healthy plant metabolism. Here is where our fruit becomes flavorful, nutrient dense if you will. Here is the beating heart of the fungal duff that we merely steward at the feet of our trees. Here begins beauty as we know it on this living green planet.

What do you garner from reading Steiner?

Lost Nation Orchard
Zone 4b in New Hampshire

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/14/2014 04:27PM by Michael Phillips.
Re: tree bark considered
March 18, 2014 01:48PM
Using the biodynamic tree paste has observable results. We apply a thick layer of paste starting at ground level and work up to the scaffold at minimum. From ground level, the paste is applied atleast 1/2 inch thick as a "primer coat" for borer protection and thins out as we move up the tree.

Last spring, upon observation, the paste had created a habitat teaming with earthworms (or maybe composting worms). The worms were en masse not only at soil level, but were drawn up around the trunk base harbored beneath the clay.

Perhaps the cow manure lured them in. Indeed, such a congregation of "beneficials" upon the base of the tree was a sight to behold! Such observable blessings may just be the tip of the iceberg compared to the unobservable benefits that work behind the scenes.

Sourwood Mountain Orchard
Zone 5 in Vermont

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/12/2014 01:47AM by Michael Phillips.
Re: tree bark considered
July 20, 2019 09:17PM
This is absolutely wonderful to read. Thank you for posting!
Re: tree bark considered
July 20, 2019 09:38PM
Where are you located geographically? I assume the orchard you're tending to is in the same region? Also, could you please update your profile to include a little more about yourself and orchard? Any advice could be and probably is very specific to location and pest pressures. Thanks, mike

Mike Biltonen, Know Your Roots
Zone 5b in New York
Re: tree bark considered
July 28, 2019 04:55AM
Will do!

Located Vancouver island bc Canada. Zone 8

I’ll add more to my profile. Orchard in same zone and we have heavy canker and fugal pressures. Codling moth as well.

Zone 8:
Vancouver Island, BC
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