A Request from the Plant Doctor!
We now have had almost 3 years of this column and while it is interesting, it is also much too short. So I’d like to make a few small changes, when you present your cases. You need to give me more information, so that this column becomes more than just a “clinic for plants.” While it is interesting, far too few of you supply photos and none has an interesting video of their whole plot or habitat. I would like to see these additions. I would love your cooperation to make this the most talked-about column on the entire web. Therefore, below I have drawn up a list of the things I want to know, so I can give much more interesting answers.
- Climate. Are you in tropical, subtropical or temperate circumstances?
- Weather. What type of weather was it in the 2 weeks prior to the problem your plants are facing?
- Soil. What type of soil do you have and what is the pH?
- Fertiliser. What was the last type of fertiliser you applied and for what reason?
- Crop. What crop are you growing, or what type of plant/tree has the problem?
- Stage. What stage is the plant in at the moment? During which stage did the problem became apparent? Stages are : Seedling, Growing, Flowering, Fruitsetting, Ripe.
- Weeds. Weeds tell us about soil pH and structure. What is your most abundant weed?
- Biome/Habitat. Tell us about the trees, plants and animals/insects that live and grow in the neighbourhood.
- Photos/Video. Last but not least, make photos or shoot video! Every modern phone has a camera. Do this before and after, so we can discuss cases on a more ongoing basis. We can discuss which measures have worked and which have not.
Make your story as interesting as possible and I can give you hints on how to manage that whole biome or habitat with minimum fuss and maximum pleasure. I will explain how to become a lazy farmer. Give me the full story and I can explain how these different components of a habitat all cooperate to bring about a certain situation. I can also explain how we can manipulate that habitat, so that it functions as we intended it to. That is, we can go from the monoculture image to the multiculture image, all without introducing a single species. It is by using remedies made from these species that we can create a habitat – any habitat.
As the sole alternative to chemical agriculture, we can help this method produce the changes we want to see in the environment. People need to use this knowledge and apply it in their backyards. That is where the changes come from, because seeing it work, will make them demand it for their food.
From my side, I will put in short videos, which discuss a problem often seen. I will explain in writing what sort of climate it is, what type of soil and of course, which are the most common problems we see in the garden. I will explain the remedies and make it more interesting that way, but I also need your cooperation in filling out the whole story. That way we learn to recognise problems and their consequent results. We have things to show that are found nowhere else. And remember, failures are also results, which will teach us a great deal!
Send your questions! : firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Plant Doctor”.
Dear Dr Kaviraj
We are growing rice in Auroville, near Pondicherry, TN, India. We are growing our Paddy organically but have problems with the following 3 disease/pests; brown spot (Drechslera oryzae), stem borer and leaf roller. Is there anything we can do homeopathically against these problems?
First of all, do you always grow rice in the same spot? If so, it is a good idea to leave the straw on the soil, so the fungi have something to do and won’t attack the living plants. Do you know the work of Fukuoka? He wrote a book, called “The One-Straw Revolution” and it is greatly worth reading for everyone who cultivates rice, (or any other plant, although those have different effects) in whatever country. This man has single-handedly revolutionised Japanese organic rice growing.
As to the direct remedy, I would first see what is the bigger problem, which seems to me the insects, which are probably vectors of the disease. This you can counteract with a dose of Thuja 6C, which acts like an antidote to insect venom, which has entered the body. Here is a description:
Yellow cedar. Arbor vitae. Tree of life. NO Coniferae. Tincture of fresh green twigs.
Pests in general, mites, hawk moth, scale, blister mite, rust mite. Pests in Cucurbitae. Cancer in trees. Galls. Farcy and grease in horses. Fungus gall.
Grows upon the rocky banks of rivers, low swampy spots.
The volatile oil is used in the West Indies as a powerful insecticide.
Teste mentions in his Materia Medica that thuja wood does not decay. He also agrees with Hannemann’s idea of signature, regarding the “resinous callosities of the stems and leaves of thuja might have seemed an indication that the plant is a specific for sycosis and warts.”
Sycosis is according to Hannemann the constitutional disease resulting from constitutional (i.e. hereditary) gonorrhoea. The characteristic manifestations are warts, either dry or soft, cancers and cauliflower excrescences.
From the provings it appears that Hannemann was right and this is corroborated by Kent. Hering says that it acts on the fluids causing: “dissolution of the fluids, which become acrid. It disturbs the digestion.” In the vegetable sphere: “A surplus of producing life; nearly unlimited proliferation of pathological vegetations, condylomata warty, sycotic excresences, spongy tumours. All morbid manifestations are excessive, but appear quietly, so that their beginning is scarcely known.”
Through analogous diagnosis, this can easily be related to galls, either hard or soft, or even soft cancerous growth on trees. A good example is the fungus gall of wattles (Uromycladeum spp.).
Many borers can be treated with Thuja, as it is a remedy that can neutralise “animal poisons”, such as vaccination and its negative effects in humans. Thus many insects that attack plants and trees will respond to this remedy, especially if disease is the result of pest attack, like barley yellow dwarf virus, mosaic virus and other viral and bacterial disease.
Much testing has to be done to confirm this, although analogy also here is the leading feature for its indications. Giving Thuja “internally”, i.e. watering the roots, so it can be taken up, produces more striking effects than spraying, as was found in some of the tests.
Thuja contains an essential oil which also repels weeds and is related to Juglone and Oak, as well as Beech and Azadirachta indica. These trees do not like other plants to grow too close in their neighbourhood and produce allelochemicals like Juglone and Thujone, related to the terpenes and the phenols.
Hello Doctor Kaviraj,
I had beautiful zuchinni plants, three in a mound, and the male and female flowers were normal and plentiful. The fruit would develop to about 2 to 3 inches long, then turn yellow and shrivel up. I went the entire summer without a harvestable zuchinni. Last year, it was hit and miss, but had enough zuchinni for our family to handle. The garden is in full sun, about 300 square feet in a suburban setting, and we are located in the San Joaquin Valley of California. We had a normal summer with no rain and warm dry temperatures, all to the liking of the squash family. I provided about 2″ of water per week and the adjacent tomatoes set well. The soil is well amended clay loam and the pH is neither alkaline or acid. I do not use chemicals but have hosed off populations of aphids earlier in the summer and sprayed a bit of dish soap and water to mitigate the aphid population. The plants have now been pulled out, and beets and lettuce now grow there , all with success. What can I do to prevent the fruit from dying next year? Thank you.
First of all, do you always grow them in the same spot, or do you change place each year? If in the same spot, it explains it all, because the Cucurbitae take certain nutrients as much as is produced and leave the soil depleted of them.
So the solution to that is crop rotation and as you notice, the next crops, beets and lettuce do well, because now they have the advantage of taking that which the Cucurbitae do not like or need. So for them, the necessary input is already available and they in turn leave behind others, which are picked up by beans, which like potatoes, btw and corn, and these in turn leave among others lots of nitrogen in the soil, which the squash needs in the following year.
Your pH may be neutral, but you must also feed the soil, and that is what crop rotation achieves. And the best thing is, to leave the plant debris – leaves and stems – on the land, so it gets fed as well. Or, if you take it off, compost everything, inclusive of kitchen scraps, lawn clippings, fish heads (buried well), bonemeal, calcium, etc, but excluding citrus peels (they stop the composting process locally and nothing around them decomposes).
If we want to take from the soil, then we have to feed it. Just like we cannot milk a cow without feeding it, the soil needs also organic material. Make your soil into a sponge, with loads of humus and when you go into the garden in summer, you will feel it is cooler, because a spongy soil is 15 degrees cooler than the temperature above it and thus cools it down.
So the real problem was lack of phosphor in the soil, but the symptoms resemble Sepia or perhaps Secale – birth of a nonviable embryo. Or differently said, miscarriage at the 3rd week. If you consider that most food plants have a life cycle of total 9 months and if you also consider that spring has 3 months of blooming and impregnation, and that after this period the flowers fall off and fruitsetting begins – gestation, in other words.
So in about 4 months, the fruit must be ripe for picking. Then a few weeks, correspond to about 3 months in human gestation and thus either these two remedies will cure the problem. You see this sometimes in plants, especially in the modern hybrids. And watch out for a fungal disease, that may lurk on the underside of the leaves.
I am new to the plant nurturing world and have a plant that I cannot seem to figure out. Unfortunately, I did not save the plant stub when I bought the plant and now myself and the plant are suffering the consequences. There are lots of brown spots on the plant leaves which developed about a two months after I brought that plant home. (See attached photos) I water it often (approx every 3 days) because I thought it needed more water. I also just repotted the plant into a larger pot with new potting mix (see attached photo) I would really love to have this plant forever as it is my very first plant I ever purchased (along with a yucca plant which is doing great) can you please help me in identifying the plant and its needs?
Thank you for your time.
I am no expert on houseplants, in that I can’t exactly tell you what type of plant it is, although I have seen it many times. It resembles a Bromelia and they like water in the center, where the leaves form a shallow basin. They do not like full sun, although for a few hours they do not mind. They are originally jungle plants.
From what your picture shows, the lesions are dark brown and they dry out and shrink, later perhaps leaving holes. It seems to start like little yellow spots and resembles blight. In my view, the best remedy would be Ferrum phos.
Dear Mr. Kaviraj,
Can you help with this problem?
We are apple trees growers and dairy farmers in Brittany (France). We have 20 hectares of traditionally apple trees varieties for cider production. The plants have been planted in 1985 and 1987 on a soil on a granitic rock stratum. You will find attached a ground analysis.
For the last 4 or 5 years we have seen a new disease development. After a laboratory analysis it has been identified as “Botryosphaeria obtusa” or apple trees black rot. The symptoms are brown spot on fruits and leaves. On branches and trunks the infected areas show cracks on the bark. The bark and the wood below it show a spongy texture and the disease follow the branch and trunk until it kills the branch and/or the plant itself. The symptoms are mainly developing in autumn season with high humidity and temperature around 15 to 18 °C. Even new plantation done in 2011 – close to the previous orchard showing the disease- is touched with purple/brown spots on the leaves.
We wish to know if you can advise us on agro-homeopathy uses against this fungus. We have already used homeopathy for our animals with success but we have no experiment on homeopathy used on plants. For several years now we are modifying our way of thinking from a chemical uses advised by technicians to a more natural way of growing the trees, but we lack knowledge to use agro-homeopathy. You will find attached diseases pictures taken on different varieties as well as ground, leaves and the twigs formed in the year analysis to give you a good idea of the orchard concerning its balance and condition.
Thank you for your help.
Le Gal Lénaïg
Grown up tree showing fungus attack on branches. The front branch had been cut the previous year and spray with fungicide, but the fungus has started to attack the branch behind. The branch bark is falling showing the wood.
A branch attacked, the branch is not dead yet as there is still a part of the bark “healthy” on the lower part of the branch. The dead part is literally falling into stripes.
A grown up tree severely touched by the fungus. All the upper part of the tree is dead, after spraying fungicides we start to see new sprouting of leaves below the dead part.
A detailed picture of the fungus attack on the bark with cracks and swellings. The texture of this area is spongy.
A young plant planted in 2011 showing leaves with purple/ brown spots. This new plantation has been done at 6 meters from the previous orchard. On the picture you can see grown up trees behind the young plant. There is a grown up tree showing the disease 3 meters higher on the grown up trees line.
Hi Le Gal,
This looks very much like what is happening to the Ash tree – first the leaves (and with you the fruits) are attacked by an airborne fungal spore, which subsequently attacks the bark of the branch and detaches it from the wood. The branch above it dies off when the entire branch is ringbarked.
A similar phenomenon attacked the Eucalyptus trees in Australia, where it spread through the roots and attacked the entire trunk close to the soil. Branches on the side where the bark had loosened would start to die. Now the moment I heard about it I immediately went into the forests to see what I could do.
From the symptoms, which resemble cracking and peeling skin in humans, I concluded that Silicea must be the remedy and applied it over large areas, with a lot of volunteer help and we saved at least a few 1000 ha of forest that way. So from what experience has taught me, I would say that silicea is the perfect remedy. I would also use a good dose of biodynamic B500, to activate the necessary bacteria, which process all the nutrients.
Here’s a little about bacteria and their function in the soil :
There are millions of different living entities per cm3 and they all have their a function in reducing organic matter to its basic components suitable for plant life in a production/reduction cycle we call life. We see also a great variety among them, because there are so many different functions to fulfil in the subterranean world. Plants need nutrients in small sizeable bites – not much larger and in similar suspension in colloids as homoeopathic remedies. Bacteria release the nutrients from the organic substrate in a reduction cycle, which the plant then consumes through a reaction cycle – the exact opposite from the bacteria. Viruses are the police force of the plant world, much as they function in humans. It is of course illogical to assign causal qualities to an entity, which is abundant at the final stage of disease and is therefore as much a result as all other symptoms. We have learned in primary school that cause and result are always two different things.
Evidently, a sick or dead soil cannot but provide poor living for any plant that naturally may grow on it, but more so with the crammed circumstances in which we force our food-plants. Only certain pioneer plants will be able to grow on dead soil, to help it revive. Sick soils are created through the use of chemical fertilizers and poisons to combat diseases and pests that infest the plants as a consequence. A healthy soil contains plenty of organic matter keeping busy those bacteria, vira and fungi that in a sick soil attack healthy plants to restore soil balance.
Soil-borne bacteria, vira and fungi are the supposed causes of many plant diseases that were unknown in the days of farming with animal dung and rotten plant matter. With the advance of the Agricultural Revolution, begun during the 40’s and 50’s, the soils so treated lost their organic content. Gradually, ‘new diseases’ emerged, which are often associated with those soil-borne microbial life-forms that in healthy soil are busy with what they do best – digesting plant debris and other organic materials. Today, the amount of diseases from soil-borne causes is assuming ever larger proportions. As our soils approach death so close, even the microbial life could disappear and our soils turn to desert.
Since bacteria living underground process debris not to extract organic substances but instead live off elemental substances, it is interesting to discover how and why these bacteria live like that. First we shall give a short description, which we quote and paraphrase from “Monera”, by Frans Vermeulen. This is a highly interesting book about the diverse single cell organisms we collectively class as Monera. They are now ordered under the phylum proteobacteria, which is by far the largest phylum of bacteria. There are many groups in this phylum which are different in very specific ways.
For instance, thiopneutes bacteria live in environments with sulphur-rich conditions and the bacteria take in this element instead of oxygen, while simultaneously releasing hydrogen sulphide, with its typical acrid ‘rotten egg’ smell. They feed on organic matter and are gram-negative. They are comma-shaped. These bacteria are responsible for the availability of sulphur compounds that plants need. In acidic soils, they are practically inactive, although present. Desulfovibrio is one of them.
I am a homoeopath in Nagpur State, Maharashtra India. On my farm my father repeatedly takes crops of soybeans. In the first year production was 70 ton in 2.5 hectacre. Now this is the 7th year and production is 12 ton in 2.5 hectacre . The soil is black cotten soil. Can you suggest a remedy ?
This cannot be fixed with a remedy. Your father must rotate crops. After soybean, grow potatoes, then grains, then gobi (cabbage), then back to soy. Then production will go back to normal. Now, the soil is completely exhausted, because the soybeans have been taking the same nutrient, and the root residue is not good for the same crop. It is excellent for potatoes.
Readers may find some interesting insights in this video of Kaviraj at work in the garden explaining how to deal with snail damage.