December 29, 2020
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This week’s Book of the Week feature is Paramagnetism, by Philip Callahan.
From Chapter 3: Weeds
The real problem is that the term weed has come to mean a nuisance plant when, in fact, weeds are without a doubt our most beneficial earthly helpers. The word weed should be drummed out of the English language, and weed killers banished from society like all murderers. Nelson Coon, in his classic book on the use of wild plants, calls weeds wayside plants. That is indeed a good term for weeds because roadways and trails are disturbed areas and thus ideal spots for the natural cropping of all varieties of weeds. There is not a trail or roadway across the United States that a knowledgeable survival expert could not, as Blackjack did, eat his way along, or even cure a few disorders if so inclined. Other than as a source of food and herbs, the real value of weeds has to do with their soil restorative powers which are awesome. Why is this so?
The short simplified answer is that in depleted soil, weeds send their roots deep down into the more mineral-rich subsoil. In doing so, they pull up into their stems and leaves the very minerals that Julius Hensel speaks about — potassa, sodia, lime, magnesia, manganese, iron, silica, alumina, phosphoric acid, sulphur and fluorine. Weeds are boxed and packaged storehouses of almost every important mineral needed for healthy plant growth. Just as importantly, weeds are natural mixers of such minerals. Since it is done by nature and not DuPont, the magic force called paramagnetism is attained in the mixture. It is quite usual in the laboratory to mix such minerals together and attain little or nothing of this paramagnetic force, so why not let the weeds do it correctly?
There are two excellent books on weeds. One is Charles Walters’ superb book, Weeds: Control Without Poisons, where we find another basis for the book you are reading now. He states: “Plants — weeds as well as crops — actually get about 80% of their nutrition from the air. Most of this nutrition is taken from carbon dioxide and water, but it also includes cosmic and solar energy and airborne nutrients. The effectiveness of this direction of nutrient flow is totally dependent upon two conditions: the inherent integrity of the plant and/ or seed and the health of the soil.”
The health of the soil depends not only on soil nutrients and air nutrients but upon oxygen, as does human life. The atmosphere is composed of only 0.03% carbon dioxide (CO2) but 20.95% oxygen (O2). Oxygen is as necessary to root growth deep in the soil as it is to the portion of the plant above the ground which is submerged in the atmosphere. Oxygen, like volcanic rock and dirt, is highly paramagnetic. In fact it is the most paramagnetic of all gasses. If the magnetic force we call paramagnetism is important to the plant above ground, then it must be doubly so in the soil.
The old 1950 classic, Weeds, Guardians of the Soil, by Joseph Cocannouer, is a small book that sums up all that weeds accomplish for depleted soil. Mr. Cocannouer lists the four valuable contributions of weeds to the soil. They are:
- These roots are persistent explorers in a rich world (subsoil) which is to a large degree unknown to domestic crops — until the weed roots build highways leading into it. Thereafter the crops are provided with a more extensive feeding zone.
- The weed roots pump those “lost” food materials back into the surface soil
- The weed roots fiberize the subsoils
- Help to build a storage reservoir down there for water; water moves up along the outside of the weed roots which feed in the surface layer. That is why a crop on “controlled” weedy land can go through a drought better than a clean crop on similar land.
I like the term fiberize the soil. By fiberize he means the weeds’ ability to eat their way through compacted soils. Plants, such as weeds, exude from their roots special dissolving substances that soften hard obstructions thus stimulating deep root growth in overly compacted soil. Weeds tend to feed in the lower subsoil zone and will promote an upward movement of capillary water along the outer edge of the root. They are not water robbers as is commonly believed, except in cases where they are too dense in a field. In short, there is an optimal population of weeds among food crops that will enhance the crop growth.
The fiberization of soil by weeds not only allows for water to be pumped upwards, but oxygen to flow in the soil contributing its powerful paramagnetic force to the root growth. Weeds, by aerating the soil, contribute the spongy characteristic that signals fertile soil. Fiberization and aerating of compacted soil allows the roots of the crops in the upper top soil to follow the pathway of the weeds to a better life below. The roots of weeds are tunnelers for the roots of the surface feeding food crops. Mr. Cocannouer makes the point that if one wishes to reclaim eroded and compacted soil, one should even go to the extreme of sowing weed seeds. Heresy!
About the Author:
Dr. Philip S. Callahan is a philosopher as well as a top-grade scientist. An internationally famous entomologist and ornithologist, he has been responsible for breakthrough discoveries in both areas.