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Zero Blight/Mildew on squash w/ Horsetail/Equisetum

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15216
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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Al Loria


Joined: Apr 21, 2010
Posts: 395
Location: New York
We had powdery mildew that ruined our zucchini this year.  The vine borers didn't help either.  Tried the milk/water spray with little results.  Going to give the horsetail a try next year.

Amazed his garden can go for months without water.

One question, though.  How has he managed to get three feet of soil.  Had he ever tilled, or was it just dedicated permaculture/bio-dynamic practices that did it?
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15216
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
That piece of land came with amazing, deep soil.

That deep soil should be our goal.  And, if anybody tells you that you cannot raise squash without irrigation, slap them and show them this video. 
                                    


Joined: Nov 24, 2010
Posts: 1
Thanks for posting this on iDig. I would be interested in learning a bit more about the volume of leaves to water in the tea. I caught that he brewed the tea for 20 minutes, and mixed the result with 5 gallons of water, but didn't hear how much equisetum or water he used in the original brew.

I'm inundated with both equisetum and mildews, so I hope this works for me next year!
ryan112ryan McCoy


Joined: Aug 23, 2010
Posts: 45
Two questions:

1. I was looking up horsetail, it is considered a weed by many, but it can actually take over easily almost like kudzu (just doesn't vine/climb).  Thoughts?

2.  If I am wrong about number 1, which I could be, where does one get seeds online?
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
In my experience, Horsetail generally grows only in very wet areas. I have not found it to be invasive (it faded out where I tried to introduce it), but your mileage may vary. It does not set seed, but spreads by rhizomes (and spores, but that is rather tricky to order in the mail). Best bet is at a native plant nursery, or someplace that has plants for ponds. 
Charlie Michaels


Joined: Jan 17, 2010
Posts: 124
About horsetails, I was thinking that since they are so ancient (they were eaten by dinosaurs), they could possibly have some primordial bond with the soil which could be of benefit somehow. Something like nitrogen fixation. Its likely it has a strong history of co-evolution with many other plants and insects.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
One thing I do know about horsetail is that it has lots of silica - that mineral is absorbed by the Equisetem roots and deposited in the plant to provide support. The plant has been used as an abrasive to scrub pots and pans, and for conditions like osteoporosis and psoriasis (the tea taken internally).

Paul Cereghino
volunteer

Joined: Jan 11, 2010
Posts: 847
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
    
  15
All PNW species are rhizomatous and could be propagated with root cuttings.  Ditto the love of moisture... although E. arvense can range from moist environs and be opportunistic in distrubed areas.


Paul Cereghino- Stewardship Institute
Maritime Temperate Coniferous Rainforest - Mild Wet Winter, Dry Summer
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
Is the interview subject happy with this edit? You cut out the part about the vortex forming with clockwise, then counterclockwise stirring.

I can't say whether the special routine of stirring is important to the workings of it, or not, but it does seem to be important to the biodynamic tradition. My education in chemistry leads me to believe that an important effect on the tea itself is possible, but not too likely; I think this stirring technique might, instead, have an important effect on the person who applies the preparation. The footsteps of the gardener are the best fertilizer, as they say.

As to soil associations: I think there might plausibly be a useful sort of microbe associated with horsetail, and your comparison to rhizobia makes some sense, except that all visible-sized life forms have special colonies of microbes, even those without special structures to keep them in. I've read that you can tell a human forehead from a human hand based on the DNA of the bacteria growing there.

Species that occupy such a stable niche in terms of their basic form and function, do often seem to have time to develop amazing abilities in their more subtle workings: the immune system of a shark is my favorite example. The notion of a culture of microbes associated with horsetail would fit well with the theory that the stirring routine is of physical importance. 20 minutes of boiling rules out quite a few sorts of microbe, but not all.


"the qualities of these bacteria, like the heat of the sun, electricity, or the qualities of metals, are part of the storehouse of knowledge of all men.  They are manifestations of the laws of nature, free to all men and reserved exclusively to none." SCOTUS, Funk Bros. Seed Co. v. Kale Inoculant Co.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Joel Hollingsworth wrote:

I can't say whether the special routine of stirring is important to the workings of it, or not, but it does seem to be important to the biodynamic tradition. My education in chemistry leads me to believe that an important effect on the tea itself is possible, but not too likely; I think this stirring technique might, instead, have an important effect on the person who applies the preparation. The footsteps of the gardener are the best fertilizer, as they say.



In this respect, biodynamics seems rather similar to some Ayurvedic traditions - there are precise rituals for stirring, with mantras to be said while stirring in a clockwise direction, other mantras to be said when stirring counter-clockwise, etc.  From a rational standpoint, hard to believe that such minutia have a real effect.  On the other hand, many Ayurvedic preparations are loaded with biologically activity. I would not be surprised if there were some chemical or bacteria or fungus that is present in horsetails that has a real effect. Or it could be that that following rituals that are arbitrary in terms of content does lead us to attend to the garden, as you suggest.

I guess a rationalist could design an experiment that compared the equisetum tea against a placebo, and take it from there.
Roger Merry


Joined: Nov 28, 2010
Posts: 109
Love to get a bit more of the detail on this. NW coast England is ideal climate for mildew and tomato blight and wet clay is the ideal home of horsetail so .......................... 

Someone said they tried to transplant some !!! ARE YOU MAD !!!

Its about the hardest weed to eradicate there is - makes ground elder/convolvulus and japanese knotweed look like desirable plants. 5 years under woven plastic mulch covered in bark chippings I Think "that'll have killed it" ................... came back like it had had a holiday !!! it comes through concrete, tarmac probably enjoy a nuclear war certainly shrugs off weedkillers - it survived the dinosaurs for a reason !!
If anyone wants some come help yourself 
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
RNM35 wrote:
Someone said they tried to transplant some !!! ARE YOU MAD !!!


LOL - yes, I am mad they didn't survive and establish themselves. 

I think it is the old "right plant, right place" idea. Kudzu is seen as a nightmare plant in many places, but here it is actually too warm in the winter and it is not a problem like it is 1 or 2 hours drive north. People warn me that mints can be invasive, but they fade out after a season here.
Roger Merry


Joined: Nov 28, 2010
Posts: 109
Where are you that mint dies ?? Have you considered moving  

Like you say Rule one = grow what thrives where you are .

But honestly apart from a couple of decorative species grown as bog plants its a nightmare you actually have to admit to having it when you sell a property here !!

This Summer built a large terrace for a client - 1' of limestone rubble 2" dry mix sand/cement and 4" thick reclaimed York Stone flags horse tail came through it in 3 weeks 
I'm very happy to set up a mail order service for those that need some to
brew the "tea" Just wish i could hear the details on the video..................
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
I am in North Florida, living on an old sand dune. Even the creek bottom is drought-prone to shallow rooted plants ... when the water level drops a bit, it is dry-dry-dry. Trees do fine, although the sand is also rather nutrient poor.
Jordan Lowery
volunteer

Joined: Sep 26, 2009
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
    
  11
i always just go collect some horsetail from the local area, there is more than enough and it grows back fast. no need to plant any, and it stores for a while so you only need a few trips a year.


The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings. - Masanobu Fukuoka
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
I also have trouble getting any kind of plant to be "invasive."  I can kill anything! 


Idle dreamer

Roger Merry


Joined: Nov 28, 2010
Posts: 109
Ahh well that explains it jonathon yeah it likes wet feet - In England we've all got wet feet all year round 
Maybe I should get ludi to come over and try to cultivate it for me 
                                            


Joined: Mar 02, 2011
Posts: 2
Has any one Tried the equisetum/horsetail Tea? what are your results please post pictures if you can of your plants.  If you dont have pictures just tell us about it thanks! please share.

Is there an recipe. say one part horsetail one part water. light boil for 20 minutes mix in 5 gallons of water. How much do we really need?

Thoughts, comments, remarks? 
Steve Evans


Joined: Nov 26, 2010
Posts: 8
Location: South Gloucestershire, UK
glockman1727ak47 wrote:
Has any one Tried the equisetum/horsetail Tea? what are your results please post pictures if you can of your plants.  If you dont have pictures just tell us about it thanks! please share.

Is there an recipe. say one part horsetail one part water. light boil for 20 minutes mix in 5 gallons of water. How much do we really need?


I'd love to hear about experiences and see a recipe for this too. If anyone can provide either (preferably both) that would be greatly appreciated.
                            


Joined: Mar 27, 2011
Posts: 1
Location: Central Ohio
Here is a useful link as to preparation of the tea. It is commonly referred to in Biodynamic circles as Preparation 508.

http://cityfoodgrowers.com.au/bd508.php

Hope this helps.
Jordan Lowery
volunteer

Joined: Sep 26, 2009
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
    
  11
Has any one Tried the equisetum/horsetail Tea? what are your results please post pictures if you can of your plants.  If you dont have pictures just tell us about it thanks! please share.

Is there an recipe. say one part horsetail one part water. light boil for 20 minutes mix in 5 gallons of water. How much do we really need?

Thoughts, comments, remarks? 


you must have not watched the video because it answers your questions.
john boyd


Joined: Feb 22, 2012
Posts: 1
Around where I live, the horsetail that grows is a different variety than what I think grows up north its not the arvensus or whatever its called. i think its called also known as Bottle-brush, Horse Willow, Paddock-pipes, Pewterwort, Scouring Rush, Shave Grass and Toad pipe. I'm wondering if this would work for the same preparation of tea. I know that it is also high in silica. has anyone ever been successful with this kind or think it might work?
Jeanine Gurley
steward

Joined: May 23, 2011
Posts: 1392
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
    
  10
I have had good results with Chamomile tea to prevent mildew on squash, cukes, apples and damping off of seedlings. I do have to spray the squash almost daily though so I may look into the horsetail tea if I can find horsetail in my area. I didn't get the impression that he had to spray his that often. And we have such a high humidity here that I may have to do it daily anyway.


1. my projects
Jeanine Gurley
steward

Joined: May 23, 2011
Posts: 1392
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
    
  10
After doing a quick search it looks like I'm going to be hard pressed to find horsetail around here in South Carolina.
Cee Ray


Joined: Nov 26, 2011
Posts: 82
Location: BC Interior, zone 5a
    
    1
Equisetum is generally meant as a preventative not a cure. The info I have says 150g dried material per 10 litres water. Aerial part of the plant collected in the morning sun. Spray on the soil regularly throughout the year with a 1 to 5 dilution. Spray on the plants before the opening of the buds and again in spring and summer with a 1 to 5 dilution.

It's also a good idea to also use a Stinging Nettle ferment as it is an excellent immune booster for plants. 1kg fresh nettles or 200g dried in 10 litres pure water fermented in a ceramic crock (no lid) for 2+ weeks in a remote location (it gets stinky). Strain and dilute 1:20 and spray on plants throughout the year, dip roots before transplanting, sprinkle some into sown furrows.

Ideally one wants to use all the biodynamic preps (appropriately), because they are meant to be together like a symphony, in order to create the harmony and balance that is important in a garden.

I have also had excellent results against powdery mildew by spraying regularly with a product called Lithovit.

Good luck getting Horsetail to grow in your location, it pretty much grows where it wants.
Alicia Gauld


Joined: Feb 03, 2014
Posts: 12
Hi. If you look at plants that are high in silica they are the opposite of fleshy & leafy, they're hardened, sometimes pointed & quite resilient. They can do okay without much water. Using a high silica plant to balance out a fleshier plant that can be prone to mildew, fungi from over watering or too much rain is useful. BD 501 has also worked for me like this.
Great discussion!
 
 
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