From Jane Cobbald's 'Implementations' copper tools newsletter:
In the last few years there has been a fundamental shift in how
scientists view the way the plant kingdom works. Take trees, for
example. The old view was that woodland trees grow tall because they
compete for light - and the strongest win. That view has been
questioned. Researchers like Suzanne Simard
have shown the level of co-operation, not only between species (she
demonstrated how paper birch trees support douglas fir) but also between
kingdoms. The fungi underground allow themselves to be used as a food
bank. They store surplus nourishment for the trees in the good times and
give it back in leaner periods. They also provide minerals which the
trees can't access for themselves, and they act as a woodland
communication system. The world in a woodland has been shown to be a
distributed network, with hubs (the 'mother' trees) and links.
This is the diagram Suzanne Simard used in her TED talk. The darkest
circles are the 'hub' trees, the paler ones younger trees. It looks like
a diagram of the internet. It has been called the wood-wide web.
That was the preamble to my ponder. My ponder is -
if that is happening in woodland, what is going on in my house and
garden? How can I best work with this intelligent, caring,
One immediate response from us was to think differently about
potplants. For a single plant in a pot, life must be like solitary
confinement. So, nowadays we put more than one plant in a pot, or we
make sure that their leaves are touching other plants nearby. And we
brush the leaves as we walk past them.
A lot of good gardening practice makes sense in the context of the
wood-wide web. If you take something out, put something back, whether it
is a bit of compost or a sprinkling of fish, blood and bone.
Minimum-interference gardening practices like 'no-dig' and permaculture are in tune with this view. The biodynamic
approach sees the entire piece of land as a single entity, an
'organism'. That also makes sense. And of course, our view is that the bronze tools
help. Copper is a connector. Like the fungi in the forest floor, it
links things up. It's in our wiring. In our bodies, copper is to do with
energy transfer. So at the very least, bronze tools should be less
disruptive in the garden.