Small is Beautiful & why that’s important for gardeners.
This is techy stuff but absolutely vital to all work with the soil. If you understand some of this, of how Mother Earth works it really helps you to work with her. We may well know the adage “Small is beautiful” … well that’s just what I’m going to talk about here.
- Steiner said to stir the preps 500 and 501 for an hour and this is what we do, but why? What does the stirring do?
Stirring does things to any substance that is stirred, from porridge and cake mix to biodynamic preparations. You’ve probably watched the transformation of a mix of oats and salt and water into a scrumptious breakfast on a winter morning. What goes into the pot isn’t particularly appetising, edible yes but only if you were starving hungry and there was nothing else. What comes out of the pot makes your eyes gleam and your nose twitch as you spoon cream and honey over it, or sprinkle salt “on them” if you’re a Scot. The stirring, and the heat, have transformed it.
And it’s not just the heat either. If you left the pot on the stove but didn’t stir you’d have a lumpy rough-tasting mess, again not attractive nor very edible. It actually wouldn’t be very digestible either though, of course, it wouldn’t poison you. Your digestive tract would have trouble getting the goodness out of it, it wouldn’t be in the best condition for your stomach to work on. And that’s because it hadn’t been stirred. Like I said, stirring does things to substances.
- It transforms molecules into things called colloids.
So what’s a colloid?
A colloid is a type of mixture where one substance is dispersed evenly throughout another. Because of this dispersal, some colloids have the appearance of solutions. You’ll have seen some mixtures that, when suspended in water, take many days to settle out. A particle that remains suspended in water this way, suspended but not dissolved, is called a colloid.
Organic matter forms smaller and smaller particles as it breaks down as far as it can go and still be called organic matter rather than individual elements. When it gets to this stage, before it stops being organic matter, it’s called humus – the humus we make when we make compost … and humus is a colloid. When mixed with water it will not readily settle out or float to the top.
Colloidal particles are incredibly small – a teaspoon of particles has a surface area greater than a football field. Gustave Lebon in Evolution of Energy says they generate surface energies that have powerful effects on physical and chemical reactions. By the laws of physics, the smaller the particle the greater its surface area – a one-inch cube has a surface area of six square inches; the same cube divided into eight cubelets will have twice that surface area. By the time the cubelets become microscopic their cumulative surface area is increased enormously.
Because colloids – miniscule compared to the cubelets – are so small they have a huge surface area. To give you an idea of the weight to surface area ratio, clay soil can have a surface area of some 800 square metres, that’s over 200,000 square foot or 5 acres per ounce! Phew !!! that’s serious Dr Who !!!
What do colloids do?
Colloids help substances to hold structure. The colloidal state is described as the state of a solute when its molecules are not present as separate entities, as they are in a true solution, but are grouped together to form solute “particles” – read Secrets of the Soil by Tompkins & Bird for more on this. These particles are absolutely minute and detectable only by means of an ultramicroscope. They carry an electric charge, and it is their colloidal state that enables the body to absorb essential mineral elements without those essential minerals having first been processed organically by plants and animals.
Now, all organic activities are electrical phenomena that require an ion exchange. Soil courses at horticultural colleges will tell you about this, it’s one of the basics about how plants acquire food. Life in its broadest sense is electrical derived from the interplay of chemical elements – read The Body Electric by Robert O Becker MD for more on this. So, since in colloids the ratio of the surface area to the volume of material is extremely large, their potential to be charged with energy is extremely large too.
- The larger the surface area exposed the greater the potential to be charged with energy and so their ability to absorb nutrient.
Because of colloids, the surface area of humus – the compost we make – is about the same as the clay … about 800 square metres per ounce – and enormous area! Consequently humus, like clay, has a huge potential to be carry electrical charge … and so enable plants to feed.
Now, another big thought … every cell of our body is made of colloids arranged to perform specific functions. Nobel physicist, Wolfgang Pauli, concluded that colloids provide the most important link between the inorganic and the organic. This is a clue to the very source of life … and biodynamics helps this link to happen through the stirrings.
So get composting, use the biodynamic preps, get making more usable topsoil for the plants, for the Earth. Humans can make more topsoil in a year than the earth on her own can manage in thousands of years … isn’t this a way to help plants, insects, animals and ourselves to live, and a way to heal the Earth?