Long, long ago dinosaurs roamed our rugged world. Sadly, the ice age hit as did a comet or two and that was the end of that story. OR WAS IT??!! Did we really lose our connection to the Paleozoic Era? Or is a part of it still with us? Folks, cue the Jurassic Park theme song. Enter: Equisetum, also known as horsetail.
Upon discovering that equisetum is used in Biodynamic Farming as a foliar spray to help prevent Powdery Mildew I became slightly obsessed. Firstly, what was equisetum? And secondly, how (and why) does it work? After a little digging I found that equisetum is a relic from the Paleozoic Era. It was once a plant that lined the understory of forests with its presence, often growing upwards of 30 feet. It continued to survive throughout the ages as a spore-producing plant that diminished in size to look more like reeds than it does trees. If you look hard enough, you’ll start to see this ancient plant all around you. It’s often used as a hedge border in landscaping but in Biodynamic Farming it’s dried up, chopped up and turned into a tea.
There are numerous cases in the biodynamic world where equisetum has proved effective as a foliar spray – disease and pest issues were diminished or non-existent after consistent applications but how?! How does this particular plant help other plants stave off disease and pests? Digging a little further, I discovered that equisetum had high levels of silica in its cells. I needed to know more so I went down the silica rabbit hole.
The world is made up mostly of oxygen and do you know which element comes in for a close second? Silicon. Yes, indeed. Silicon. It’s the second most available element on the Earth’s crust and is readily found in sand. Silicon is incredibly important to our survival. When in its soluble form (silica) we are able to absorb it into our bodies to help our joints stay flexible, our skin supple and our arteries strong. Silica is the key player when it comes to keeping our bodies youthful. We need silica to help us make and form collagen, the very material that holds us together. Luck has it that our entire recommended silica dose is taken in by plants. They’re the middle man in this collagen-producing transaction.
Understanding how silica works in our bodies helps validate why those in Biodynamic Farming would use, equisetum, a material high in silica as a foliar spray on their crops. Silica enters the plants through their roots and on a cellular level is converted into specific forms for various functions of the plant. Silica can be found in all parts of the plant but is in high concentration around the stem and stalk. Silica helps to toughen up the leaves so they can stay up and spread wide to ensure they capture the light for photosynthesis. It’s also found that stronger leaf cells make it tougher for pests to take a nibble. Silica, in all its forms, protects plants from the stresses of the elements. So why not give your garden a tasty cup of equisetum tea and let the silica do the rest! And don't forget to have a sip or two yourself. Hello, fountain of youth!
Below you’ll find a biodynamic method for making equisetum tea, enjoy!
BD 508 Equisetum
Casurina (Saru) ‘Tea’
Spray at Full Moon (2-4 days before) and at Moon opposition Saturn, the same as BD501
2lbs Equisetum arvense (Horsetail herb) or Casurina (Saru)
33 oz. water
1. Boil 2lbs equisetum for 2 hours in 33 oz water
2. Let sit for 2 days
1. Bring liquid back up to 2.5 gallons by adding water
2. Dilute to10%
i.e.4 cups of ‘tea’ to 2.5 gallon water per acre
3. Spray onto the soil or over the plants in the early growing stages