Horsetail plant, Making an organic garden does not mean doing anything to defend plants from diseases and parasites, it simply means avoiding poisoning the soil and vegetables with chemicals and instead of looking for natural remedies. The beauty is also that many of these defense systems of organic agriculture can be self-produced, with what nature itself gives us, so we also avoid spending unnecessarily on plant protection products.
One of the most useful preparations for the organic horticulturist is the horsetail decoction, which can prevent and contain many of the fungal diseases that could attack our vegetables. As an alternative to the decoction, you can always macerate using dried or fresh horsetail plants.
So let’s see how to prepare it in detail and then how and when to use it in our garden. If you are interested in learning more about this and many other methods to avoid using chemicals and treating plants, we recommend reading the excellent manual on how to protect the vegetable garden with natural methods.
Know and recognize the horsetail plant
Horsetail: plant and recognition. It is a spontaneous plant that grows in humid soils or on the banks of ditches and is very widespread, so we are talking about an easy and freely available ingredient. The scientific name is Equisetum arvense but in popular tradition it is also called horsetail or horsetail. In spring the horsetail makes a yellowish stem with a darker cap like a mushroom, in fact it makes spores instead of seeds, while in summer the green stem comes out, the one that is to be collected, which is recognized by the very thin leaves similar to needles or hairs. Being a very particular plant, it is very easy to recognize the horsetail, look for it in the humid areas of the fields or on the banks of streams.
How it protects. Horsetail strengthens plants against fungal diseases because it contains a lot of silica which reinforces the tissues of horticultural plants and helps make them less sensitive to mold and fungi (downy mildew, root rot, bad white, …). Horsetail decoction also helps defend against aphids.
Make the horsetail decoction
Preparing the horsetail decoction is not difficult: take 100 grams of dry plant, or 300 grams of the fresh plant, for each liter of water, bring it to a boil, turn off the heat and let it cool.
At this point the mixture is filtered and diluted one to five with water. As you can see it is really very simple to obtain the horsetail decoction, which is ready to be used in the field.
Use the decoction in the garden
Horsetail in decoction has three uses: for foliar application, on the ground, on the roots when transplanting. It goes without saying that, unlike chemical fungicides, horsetail can be used without fear of poisoning the soil or vegetables and that if you overdo it, nothing bad happens.
Use on the leaves. The decoction is used for leaf watering, diluting it again 1 to 5, if the garden is not very large you can use a 5-liter watering can (which also helps in dosing), otherwise the special pump to spray the treatments. The decoction of horsetail through the leaves is useful in particular for preventing or containing powdery mildew (a bad white typical of various plants and in particular of pumpkins and courgettes). It is advisable to treat every 20 days if there are ongoing diseases, repeat, and frequent treatments. The treatments should be done on days that are not too humid but not under the beating sun.
Use on the ground. Useful to combat root rot and to protect the tubers and the underground parts of vegetables. The decoction is diluted exactly like that given to the leaf and is distributed on the ground every two or three weeks.
Use for transplantation. Before planting the seedlings, soak the earthen bread in the decoction for a few seconds, in this way the roots benefit from the horsetail and it will be more difficult for the seedling to get sick due to the spores present in the soil.
The horsetail macerate
Another method for using horsetail: macerated. Another possibility of using horsetail is to do it in the form of macerate, it is left to ferment in a container 100 grams of fresh plant per liter of water, filtered and then diluted one to five. The maceration time must be 7-10 days (you realize that it is almost ready when it begins to foam on the surface, at which point you have to wait a couple of days).
The decoction is able to better extract the useful substances from the plant, the horsetail macerate has the advantage of not requiring cooking and therefore it is much easier to obtain. The use of macerate and decoction is similar.
Horsetail as a fungicide
The horsetail plant has a great wealth of properties, in particular, it has a high content of mineral salts, which reach almost 20% of the total matter. One-third of these salts is silica, which is present in two forms (soluble and insoluble). These elements can strengthen the plant, helping it to be more resistant to pathogens.
It is not a fungicide, so it is not expected that the horsetail decoction can cure current diseases, but a preventive measure. Like many natural remedies, it is not a miracle product, it is an aid to the natural defenses of the plant, but it is really effective in reducing problems. A good biological defense starts from creating a healthy environment, starting with a draining and humus-rich soil, the horsetail is part of this strategy.
The classic fungicide remedies of organic farming, copper and sulfur, are not free from negative ecological consequences, it is better to learn alternative methods that allow reducing their use.
On the market, there are also anti-fungal products that start from the action of this spontaneous plant, for example, the one produced by Solabiol, whoever cannot find the horsetail plant or is lazy and does not want to start making the decoction can buy them. I always recommend when it is possible to use self-made macerated products, not only for economic reasons: the vegetable garden in this way will give greater satisfaction.
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