Deutsch English

Experiments on the effect of ashed plant seeds

In greenhouse experiments, "pepper" of ashed seeds had no significant influence on the germination of okra seeds

Keimling, Okra

Purchased okra seeds (Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench) were filled in a tin pan and grilled on a gas flame at a maxiumum temperature of 505 °F (263 °C) (moon in Leo, waxing moon). The leftovers were then crushed until a rough powder remained. For the germination experiments, seeds of the same species were purchased and uniform, vital seeds were selected. Then, equal quantities of okra seeds were sown in twenty flats containing uniform amounts of potting soil. The soil of 10 randomly selected flats was mixed with equal amounts of okra „pepper“. The other 10 flats remained untreated (control). All flats were placed in a random order along the south window of the greenhouse. Seedligs were checked after 7, 14, 21, 28 and 35 days, recording the number of seedlings and their habit (normal or abnormal). Abnormal seedlings displayed a hypocotyl height of 1-2 inches, the seed coat mostly still covered the cotyledons. Normal seedlings reached heights between 5 and 8 inches and displayed at least 2 broad, green leaves.

Ash preparations did not influence the rate of germination. In treated flats, 84.0% of all seeds germinated, whereas in the untreated control flats, germination rate was 84.9%. The percentage of abnormal seedlings did not differ between treatments either.

One year later, the authors repeated the experiment twice, following the same approach. They used the same flats and the same soil as in the first experiment. Only the seed ash was freshly produced (at moon in Sagittarius, waning moon). The seedlings of the previous experiment were mulched. As before, the mean germination rate did not show significant differences in response to treatment.

The authors discussed the following aspects in order to explain their results:

  • Moon phase during seed burning: some authors advise the date when the moon is in opposition to the sun (new moon) and to Saturn. Others advise waning moon or new moon without any influence of the Zodiac. However, the authors are not aware of experimental data on the effect of moon position.
  • The duration of the experiment (35 days) was too short to show an effect.
  • The choice of okra as experimental plant had practical disadvantages. Further trials with field mustard (Brassica rapa) are planned. The trials will be extended over several plant generations, therefore the seeds produced in the current experiment will be sown out in the following experiment.
  • Steiner never stated that seed ashes reduce germination. The effect of ashes upon the germination capacity of plants was the authors' hypotheses.



Eldridge, M.; Kirchoff, B.; Richter, S. (2005): An experimental test of the biodynamic plant peppers. Biodynamics, Autumn 2005 30-33
Eldridge, M.; Kirchoff, B.; Richter, S. (2006): A further test of the biodynamic plant pepper. Biodynamics, Winter 2006 37-40

ashed plant seeds

In contrast to many others of Steiner's instructions in his agricultural lectures, to date his recommendations on weed control via dipersal of ashed seeds (called weed pepper or seed ash) had rarely been realized in biodynamic practice. Moreover, the Demeter production standards do not mention this measure explicitly. A reason might be, that experiments with weed pepper provided few clearly postitive results.

During a workshop on Dottenfelderhof, Spieß (1999) showed a literature review and own (partly long-term) experimental results. His conclusions and his appraisal of the actual state of knowledge in this field are shortly summarized here.

Concluding the results of weed control via ashing after nearly 20 years of trials, it could not be shown in any case that the application of ash preparations according to R. Steiner`s recommendations completely reduced the examined weeds in scientific plot trials. Only sporadically, trends and even significant differences between treatments were found. On the other hand, during the trial the examined weeds were reduced to a non-problematic population level. Therefrom, several conclusions can be drawn, even if those are partly hypothetical and there are rather open questions than answers remaining.

On the one hand, one could doubt the potency of seed ash in general. On the other hand, in no other part of his „Agriculture Course“, R. Steiner emphazises so clearly his certitude concerning the effectiveness of the method. Regarding the other biodynamic preparations as well as the human medical remedies developed by R. Steiner, there are plenty of verified results proving their effectiveness. Interestingly, Steiner himself objected with regard on ash effectiveness, that „ experiment proves the opposite. But it proves nothing in reality. If you are working exactly, you must consider the other case with equal exactitude.“ (cited from However, the other case is not further specified.

First, in this regard an elementary question raises: Can the effect of seed ash on weed control actually be proved in a trial in which wild plants or yellow mustard were cultiviated with much effort and expertise? The contradiction between the use of weed controlling seed ash and the experimentator's growth enhancing measures is obvious. Moreover, the weed reproduction reported by many farms shows, that certain weed species find ideal growth conditions under certain cirumstances.

Second, taking the idea of an organism which characterises the agricultural ecosystem as a basis, one can not regard a single measure separated from its context. Concerning the experimental method, the appropriate design for finding an evidence for the effects of seed ashes must be questioned. As R. Steiner pointed out, the ashes irradiate brodadly. Therefore, in a randomized trial the untreated control plots possibly loose their function, as to date it can not be measured at which distance the ash effect influences the environment. Therefore, maybe only a field trial on large-scale plots within the ecological system, respectively a system comparison may provide the possiblity to investigate the method of ashing.


On the basis of the actual state of knowledge, no obligatory recommendation can be given for the handling of ash preparations in the biodynamic practice. However, the application of seed ashes can be regarded as an accompanying, holistic measure to preserve the health of biodynamic farms. The ashes may thus be an amendment to the regularly applied biodynamic spray and compost preparations. Nevertheless, one should be aware that, on the basis of the our local results, the effect occurs after more than four years. At the Dottenfelderhof however, the trials are continued according to the following method: ashing of seeds two days before full moon, ash preparation in compost, dispersal before new moon.


Spieß, H. (1999): Zur praktischen Anwendung kosmischer Rhythmen im biologisch-dynamischen Pflanzenbau. Untersuchungen zur Unkrautregulierung mit der Veraschungsmethode nach Rudolf Steiner. Contributions to a seminar on chronobiology, Dottenfelderhof (Bad Vilbel), November 1999; Editor: Demeter Hessen e.V., Modautal



© 2021 Biodynamic-Research-Team |Impressum | Sitemap | Druckvorschau | Login