Peppering: Controlling Weeds and Pests


Control is not a synonym for kill. It is one thing to control a lawn mower, and another thing to kill it. When we seek to control weeds we need find out what gets them started and how they may change under various circumstances. This will help us understand what they do and why they are there, and it will provide valuable clues about how to stop them. The chances are we are unwittingly causing the weed to be a problem, and we should learn from that.

Peppering is a method used by biodynamic practitioners to clear an area of unwanted plants or animals that have become pests, reduce diversity and are resistant to other control measures. As a method for increasing and enhancing the growth and vitality of plants and animals, biodynamics also points the way to reining in plants or animals that have become so dominant and aggressive that they must be restrained. By understanding the forces that feed growth and reproduction for any given species, biodynamics also shows us how to break or impair the connection between that species and the forces that sustain it. Instead of trying to kill those species that offend us, making a pepper using the organism’s seed, exoskeleton or hide shuts down or breaks its connection with the in-streaming energies that sustain it and give it vigour. In the case of plants they dry up and struggle to grow or reproduce. In the case of animals, they tend to move out and go elsewhere.

We have seen the promethean efforts of the chemical industry and its many decades of billions of tons of poisons used on every sort of crop, while the problems of weeds and pests have become worse than ever. This approach has cost many lives and caused enormous suffering from its side effects. Residues are found in our food chain, even in the polar regions, and many of these chemicals contribute to loss of ozone in the upper atmosphere and toxic sediments in our lakes and oceans.

What really can rein in out-of-control species is simple. By burning seeds, insects or animal skins, and using the pepper-like ashes we can keep unwanted species out of certain areas.  Because biodynamics identifies the actual causes of what happens in nature, it shows us how to adjust these causes rather than lashing out in a temper tantrum of indiscriminate warfare that ultimately fails while harming ourselves and the environment we depend on.

In controlling unwanted species, we must not lose sight of diversity, balance and basic environmental health. It is not to our benefit to simply eliminate every species that we find costly or annoying. But with that thought in mind, biodynamics shows us a clear path to controlling species that have gotten out of hand and threaten that very diversity, balance and health.

Weed Peppers

For weeds, the basic method involves collecting seeds of the plant we intend to pepper and burning these, usually over hot a wood fire, so all that is left is ashes and perhaps a little charcoal which can be filtered out. It does not matter if a little of the wood used ends up in the ashes; the key is the seeds. In the case of plants that reproduce by bulbs or other root-like structures or from leaf clones, as with some succulents, it is the part of the plant that has the power of reproduction that is important. This is why wood, which is without such power, can be ignored.

Each species has optimum timing or conditions for its reproduction, and that should be taken into consideration in making its pepper. For plants the cycles of the moon are enormously important for growth and reproduction. The patterns of plants stream into the earth’s environs from constellations in the heavens through the gateway of the moon, which works with the life giving properties of water. By burning, we separate the hydrogen, nitrogen and sulphur from the seeds and drive these off into the atmosphere. Then appling the ash to an area imparts the seeds’ patterns but these are severed from their connection with water, nitrogen and sulphur. This means they are also severed from the etheric activities of chemistry, light and warmth associated with these elements. The ashing or ‘peppering’ of the seeds burns these connections up and breaks them. Especially if we make a homeopathic remedy from an ash with the pattern of a particular seed severed from the chemical, light and warmth ethers needed for its growth, applying this pattern will impair the connection between the seeds of that plant and the moon’s watery interaction with nitrogen and sulphur.


Below are some guidelines for beginners worked out by Maria Thun.

Aries: canola and wild mustards.

Taurus: farmer’s friends, wild carrot and Queen Anne’s lace

Cancer: buttercups, creeping and climbing weeds

Leo: a great variety of weeds, especially dock

Virgo: thistles and morning glory.

Libra: daisy family and quick weed.

Scorpio: nightshades

Sagittarius: fat hen and couch grass

Aquarius: shepherd’s purse

Pisces: grasses, wild oats, bent grass and chickweed.


Though it makes no difference when the seeds are collected, each weed has its optimum moon constellation to be burnt in. If this is not known, there are indications that burning in a fire constellation, particularly Leo or Sagittarius in a fourth quarter moon will do. It might help to consult a biodynamic calendar,[3] as burning while Mercury is retrograde is not likely to be effective.

There are indications that peppering works better where the farm is already under biodynamic management and all the preparations are already at work. Also, for some reason if herbicides have been used recently, this seems to stimulate rather than retard weeds and success may not be immediate. A pepper may be used along with spray applications of other preparations and in any fertilisers or seed that are spread. Homeopathic potencies of D8 [8x] or higher may be applied by spraying, radionics or field broadcasting and the pepper may be applied as often as desired. Even so, well-established weeds may require as much as four years to clear an area.

Insect Peppers

Insects, with their exoskeletons, are related to the sun. What gives them form, as the boundaries where their life forces arise, is their exoskeleton. It would be difficult to peel this off of them, so we burn the whole insect. This is also true for nematodes and for arthropods such as spiders and mites. Though these species are not insects, they only have an exoskeleton and thus it is best to burn the entire animal.

Because the sun channels the life forces of these animals, the constellations of the sun are important for invertebrates. They are best burned when the sun is passing through the constellations of the Waterman [Aquarius] through the Crabs [Cancer]. Instead of burning, it would also be effective to let the insects decay; and in some ways this might be better. It is simply a matter of collecting the results.[4] From the winged stage through the larval stage burn the insects in the Ram [Aries] or the Bull [Taurus], particularly the Bull, since these are the signs where the solar influences that vitalize insects are strongest.

Collect a quantity—perhaps 60 or so insects—sufficient for enough ashes to work with. In the case of very small animals, these may be collected using something like a sticky pheromone trap, as burning the paper and glue will not affect the arthropod or nematode ash. In the case of beetles and grubs or moths and caterpillars, collect specimens in a jar and burn both adults and larvae when the sun is in the Bull [May].

Homeopathically potentize to D8 [8x] potency and spray this pepper on three consecutive nights in November when adults are flying to create mating disruption.

Burning ants with Sun in the Bull [Taurus] and Moon in the Archer [Sagittarius] is recommended. However, it has been reported that ants burnt with the Sun in the Twins [Gemini] and the pepper sprinkled over their trails kept them away for two years. For cockroaches burning with both Sun and Moon in the Bull is recommended. However, some growers have burned their insect pests with considerable success whenever they were active rather than looking for a perfect or ‘correct’ time.

Steiner suggested that the enthusiasm one has for making the remedy is a factor in its success—which makes sense considering that the observer is a determining factor in the field of investigation. Looking for success makes finding it more likely. Mixing the various stages (eggs, larvae, pupa and adult) together seems to help, as the adult stage may not be the most vulnerable. Burn, potentize and spray on the same day if possible. Keep records and share these with the association to build a data base.

Making Peppers

One of the controversies concerning peppering is whether the material should be burned completely to ash or simply pyrolized so the water, nitrogen and sulphur are driven off but the carbon framework is still intact. The history of making peppers successfully is spotty and sometimes a grower will make a pepper that works brilliantly wherever it is applied, while in other cases there is no noticeable effect and the weed, insect or animal pest seems to keep on thriving as before. Those who recommend an extremely hot fire and burning to ash don’t seem to be the people who have the best record of success, though they seem to have had some successes. There has been too little follow-through on finding out why one pepper worked so well and another failed to work. Maybe the weed seeds were burned in the wrong Moon constellation for that weed. Or maybe they were burned completely to ash so the unique signature of their carbon atom arrangement was lost. The fact that some peppers work extremely well shows the method does and can work. The fact that some peppers have failed to yield clear-cut results indicates there needs to be further research. This should encourage experimentation, and everyone is free to have a go at making their own peppers. In fact, one of the debates is whether a weed or a bird from South Australia is a variant of what seems to be the same species in Far Northern Queensland. It may be a good idea to make some peppers locally to ensure the unique features of the local species are targeted.

Burning Methods

A fire outside, where the smoke can dissipate, is recommended, though a wood heater can work equally well. Dig a hole in the ground for the fire and use a wok or inverted plough disc to contain the material being burned. A hibachi will also work. Depending on what will be burnt, a cast iron frypan with a lid might be used, since a lid may be needed to contain seeds, such as thistles, which pop. A device designed for making biochar might be ideal. For small amounts of seeds or insects a small tin placed on hot coals in a wood heater is recommended, as the container will catch the ashes and prevent contamination. Larger amounts may require a wok and frequent stirring over an open fire. For really large amounts such as weed seeds collected after cleaning grain or insects collected in traps in orchards, a charcoal grill may be needed. Then simply collect all the ashes and filter out any large bits of remaining charcoal. If there are a number of sub-species in an area, it is probably a good idea to pepper representatives of each variety.  

For animals with an endoskeleton such as fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals the skins are the important part to burn. If the animal cannot be skinned, such as cane toads flattened on a roadway, the entire animal may be burned as long as the skin is present. For vertebrates with an endoskeleton, the planetary principle that feeds their vitality is Venus, particularly when it is in the constellation Scorpio. Venus has a 270 day revolution around the sun but a five year cycle of its position in Scorpio relative to the earth and the sun.

The most effective time to make this kind of animal pepper is near superior conjunction where Venus is behind the sun in Scorpio. This occurs only one year out of five,[5] so it may not be a good idea to wait for that date. While it may not be ideal, make the pepper with Venus anywhere from Libra to Capricorn, even at inferior conjunction where Venus is between the sun and the earth. Use this pepper while planning ahead for a better pepper if one is needed.[6]

Unlike the situation with insects where complex sugars and proteins tend to make them ill, there is a tendency for higher animals to develop a taste for biodynamically grown food because of its complexity. Although the animal in question may leave to live elsewhere, they are apt to still come back and eat where the pepper has been sprayed even though it may eventually make them ill. The pepper may need to be applied regularly, and the young who are looking for a territory of their own may be the first to brave the area where their vital forces are absent.

Keep in mind that life arises at boundaries, which makes the skin, scales, feathers, fins, claws or fur of higher animals the part to burn to break their connection to their vitality. So snakes, cockatoos, rabbits, wallabies, feral pigs, etc. should be skinned and their skins burned to make peppers without burning the whole animal. Skins can be collected and kept in a freezer until the time is right, though some prefer fresh hides when available. For a very large animal like a kangaroo, put the whole skin on a hot fire and burn to ash. Then filter the ashes out of the charcoal. Since there will be some wood ashes mixed in, perhaps it is best if the wood for the fire is peeled before burning. The ashes from the wood itself can be treated as neutral. If using road kill, be sure to use the exact species you require. If there are several varieties in your area you may pepper them separately and mix them together as needed.


Peppers can be mixed with sand and scattered along fences, roads and boundaries, throughout gardens, orchards or vineyards and over broadacre or pasture areas. Insects and animals tend to penetrate the first few metres into a peppered area before leaving, so be sure to apply to a buffer zone around gardens, vineyards and orchards.

 Peppers can be stirred in water and sprinkled on lime or compost before spreading. They can be added to fertigation tanks and irrigated on fruit and vegetable areas. It is highly recommended that peppers be homeopathically potentized to D8 [8x] potency and sprayed lightly on equipment and seeds used for cultivation and planting. Homeopathic D8 peppers can be added to field sprays of biodynamic preparations and applied along with aerial sprays. However, keep in mind that weeds, fleas, ticks, flies, poisonous snakes, obnoxious birds, etc. all have a place in the overall scheme of things. They probably are important contributors to biodiversity and balance on a global scale. Unless we thoroughly understand a plant or animal’s role, they should be excluded only in specific, well-defined areas.

Peppering seems to work for at least two seasons for most animals. Animals usually are able to leave or avoid an area where they feel uncomfortable or ill, while plants do not have this option. When weeds are treated for 2, 3 and 4 years running they tend to die out gradually getting smaller and weaker each year.

Using the Ash

Collect the grey/black ash from burning the specimens. Grind in a mortar and pestle for 10 minutes to pulverize any lumps and make a homogeneous mixture. This can be used by itself, mixed with sand or seeds or stirred with water and other preparations for spray application. Broadacre farmers often make up weed peppers to mix with their seed at planting time. Driving around paddocks spreading a blend of pepper mixed with sand around the borders has worked with considerable success. If the area to be covered is greater than the amount of pepper available, another method is to homeopathically potentize the ashes to a D8 potency or higher, which will extend the pepper 100,000,000 fold. This will also allow the lower potencies to be stored and used for making the D8 potency for many, many years. Considering that these homeopathic potencies can be applied more easily and seem to get better results, this is the preferred mode of application. It has been found that homeopathic pepper potencies work best on farms where the biodynamic preparations are already well-established.

Making Homeopathic Potencies

Serial dilution and succussion [or potentization by trituration of powders] of remedies separates the pattern of activity from the substances of the remedy. Succussion involves rhythmic pounding of the liquid in the jar by hitting the bottom of the jar on the palm of the hand or other resilient surface for a period of time—usually 3 minutes. This creates chaos and vortex formation in the fluid which leads to a thorough penetration of the water by the hydrogen bonding patterns associated with the remedy This usually makes the remedy more effective, as the removal of the substance seems to leave a vacuum behind. Fortunately is makes a small quantity of a remedy go a long way. If it works for you, it may work for your local council, Landcare group or catchment management authority.

Also see:

Homeopathic Potentization

1.      Finely grind the ash/char in a mortar and pestle

2.      Use 10 gms [one tablespoon] of this pepper with 90 ml of water containing at least 10% grain [ethyl] alcohol in a clean 200 or 250 ml jar with a secure lid and Label the jar as D1 [1x] and say aloud, “This is the first potency” and succuss for three minutes. (If there is s lesser amount of ash, just use 9 parts water to one part ash for the first potency.)

3.      Take 10 mls of this liquid and place it in the next jar. Add 90 mls of the water/alcohol mixture, making another dilution of one part in ten, as with the first potency. Label this jar as D2 [2x] and, saying aloud, “This is the second potency, succuss as before.”

4.      Repeat this procedure for the third potency.

5.      Repeat this again for the fourth potency,

6.      Repeat again for the fifth potency,

7.      Repeat again with pure water without any alcohol for the sixth potency, as this will all be used for the next potency.

8.      Using the entire 100 mls of the sixth potency and a 1.5 or 2 litre bottle add 900 mls of pure water and succuss the entire litre in the same fashion as the previous potencies. This will make the seventh potency.

9.      Suspend a sling from a hook and, using a bulk water bottle or 20 litre drum, use the entire litre of the seventh potency and add nine more litres of pure water. Succuss in the sling for 5 minutes in imitation of succussing the jar against your palm. This will be enough D8 [8x] potency for garden work or spot spraying. For larger quantities used in field applications or aerial spraying, go back to the fifth potency or the fourth potency and use a flowform to potentize dilutions of 100 litres or 1000 litres of D8 [8x].

Some people use dowsing or kinesiology to ascertain the optimum potency of peppers for the weeds, insects or higher animals on their land. D8 [8x] is a standard potency.[7]If D8 will be used the quantity should be increased for the 7th and 8th potencies.

Always label, with a date, all potencies that will be stored for future use. The only potencies not labelled would be the final multiplication steps. The D8 [8x] potency can be added to larger spray tanks of water without further dilution and succussion, such as would be used for large scale compost turning operations,  aerial foliar sprays, soil drench sprays or fertigation of large fruit and vegetable areas.

Some Testimonials

A biodynamic golf course manager used wood duck pepper on the greens and it worked beautifully—the ducks went everywhere else but stayed off the greens. Another grower reported that one sprinkling of blackbird pepper kept them off a display garden at a nursery. A New Zealand farmer peppered his farm for possums, which tend to be a big problem in New Zealand. Some years later only one immature male was found, while the farms next door had possums by the hundreds. This farmer felt the peppers affected the fertility of the males, and the females left the area to find fertile males.

Additional Tips

When peppering aquatic weeds be sure to spray around the water’s edge of the lake, pond, dam or wetland area.

Maria Thun suggests spraying three times in the same Moon constellation as the pepper was made in, which would mean monthly spraying in that constellation of the Moon.

It is a good idea to think through the life cycle of the target organism so optimum timing for the part of the organism’s cycle you wish to affect is used in making the pepper and spraying the homeopathic dilution. For example, in targeting intestinal worms in sheep it may be easier to spray paddocks to stop the larval cycle of the worms rather than drenching the sheep individually after they have already picked up the parasites. The pepper could be incorporated with field sprays, such as soil activator so optimum health of the land will help break the parasite cycle.



[1] . Also see

[2] See Agriculture of Tomorrow, E. & L. Kolisko for research into the effects of various potencies.

[3] The Antipodean Calendar is a sidereal calendar based on the actual constellations of the Zodiac, unlike most astrological calendars which are based on the Tropical Zodiac which dates back to the time of Ptolemy and differs from the actual positions of the stars today because of the precession of the equinoxes. Steiner points out in his first lecture on agriculture that plants are thoroughly reliant on the here and now, whereas human beings are not.

[4] Agriculture, Rudolf Steiner, Copyright 1993, Bio-Dynamic Farming and Gardening Association, Inc. Kimberton, PA, Creeger-Gardner translation. Lecture Six, pp 124-125.

[5] Agriculture of Tomorrow, by Eugen and Lily Kolisko; Out of Print. See the Soil and Health Library or Amazon used books. This is a rare book.

[6] See the Antipodean Calendar for the best dates for peppering vertebrates in each year.

[7] See Agriculture of Tomorrow, E. & L. Kolisko for research into the effects of various potencies.