Michael Almstead, August 9, 2012.
The Compost Tea Workshop was held on the beautiful
campus of Rye Country Day School.
The workshop was intensive. We covered both the science behind Compost Tea brewing and the practical issues and hurdles to creating a brewing business. I’ve been involved in Almstead’s evolution into organic care from the beginning and believe that products like compost tea are win-win: healthier for the lawns and trees as well as the environment, friendlier to consumers, and safer for everyone.
|Continual aeration is a necessity for compost tea.|
Russell Wagner microscopically checks our Compost Tea
for the proper microorganisms and fungi.
We have a rather substantial Compost Tea brewing operation here at Almstead. Compost tea is an organic way of adding nutrients and microorganisms to the soil – sort of a jump-start for soil to rejuvenate itself, making it more attractive for worms and other beneficial organisms, and keeping the process of soil development going. And it dramatically cuts down the use of chemicals, a plus for both for the environment and for people who are exposed to their lawns.
Dan Dalton describes the nutrient cycle.
We create different teas for lawns and for trees because of their varying requirements. Lawns need a higher ratio of bacteria, while trees require more fungi. For large locations (like a college campus or business park) we can create a Compost Tea based on soil testing. Sometimes we add specialized ingredients like nematodes or mycorrhizal fungi to meet their specific needs. We talked in general about recipes for compost teas – but the formulae that Almstead has carefully developed for our clients remains a closely-guarded company secret.
|The participants examine fibrous roots exposed|
by air spading.
Russell performed air spading on one of the Rye Country Day School campus trees. Since fibrous roots are concentrated in the top 8” of soil, compaction can deprive a tree of both oxygen and nutrients. First , he excavated the critical root zone around the trunk, easing soil compaction and allowing examination of the roots for signs of girdling or disease; then he air spaded out radially from the trunk (like slicing a pie). These slices were filled with compost and other soil amendments to provide the roots with easy access to oxygen, water and nutrients.
Marc San Phillipo demonstrates soil injection
of compost tea into the root zone.
By the end of the day, the workshop participants seemed to leave with a new appreciation for these important tools in organic plant care.
- --- Michael Almstead, Vice President & Arborist