We managed to get a compost topdressing down at the Arena Green turf demo site before the rains came. I know some people are not happy about rain in April, but it’s working out well for our schedule. The rain will help the compost settle down to the soil between the grass blades. It’s about as close to perfect timing as possible.
Topdressing with compost is a simple non-toxic method of managing fertility for turf grasses. You can read more about other non-toxic and organic turf maintenance practices at the SafeLawns.org site. SafeLawns was started by Paul Tukey, one of the pioneers in organic turf care. The Safe Lawns Foundations have also released a movie, A Chemical Reaction, on the effects of common lawn and garden chemicals.
If you have questions about your lawn, or are ready to change your own lawn maintenance practices, you can get in touch with us.
The first Bay-Friendly Gardening workshop of 2010 in Santa Clara County is this Saturday, 27-February at the county office building at 1555 Berger Drive, Building 2 in San Jose, from 10-1. This weeks class is Bay-Friendly Gardening Basics. Pre registration is required so visit www.reducewaste.org to get signed up. While you’re there, check out the schedule for the rest of the Bay-Friendly workshops. Your’s truly will be there Saturday as an instructor. Hope to see you then.
I renewed the adoption of the rose for my wife Rachel in Guadalupe River Park and Gardens. This is the 3rd year. When I first decided to adopt a rose, I asked some of the volunteers to identify a rose I thought Rachel would like. She likes old fashioned roses with fragrance and hips. I was pointed towards a Gloire Des Rosomanes. It’s a variety that matches all of Rachel’s preferences. I got to choose an appropriate inscription for the plaque. Rachel is happy with her adopted rose and visits it when she has a chance. This morning she ate the cookie that came along with the adoption for breakfast.
Roses can be adopted any time of the year from the Friends of Guadalupe River Park and Gardens. All proceeds go to help with the upkeep of the garden. If you want to see the selection of roses at their peak, the event Spring in Guadalupe Gardens is coming up on Saturday, April, 24. It’s a great time to check out the roses, and walk along the river. You’ll be impressed at the display and the scent in the air. When you go, remember, this garden is maintained without pesticides or synthetic fertilizers.
Instead of buying a bunch of pesticide laden roses that will die in a few days, consider adopting a rose. What could be more romantic? If you’d like to find a rose from the convenience of your computer, check the site HelpMeFind.com. HelpMeFind.com is maintained by some of the rosarians who help with managing the Heritage Rose Garden.
I’ll translate for those of you who didn’t grow up around Boston. AACT = actively aerated compost tea. Havahd = Harvard. Yahd = yard.
I found a video clip from This Old House on the use of compost tea on turf at Harvard University in Cambridge Mass. I post this even though I went to school across the river and have always looked down on the Crimson and my older brother is a Yale man, but I’ll give them credit for moving their turf care practices to the sustainable. It’s nice to see compost tea getting more press. The Harvard guys use the same brewer I use as well.
It’s important to remember the production of compost tea has been greatly simplified in this short segment. What you don’t see is how the Harvard crew has a microscope to test their AACT and they do regular follow up on the organisms in the soil to make sure they are achieving the desired results. One comment about the Harvard recipe, if you’re in organic production, you can’t use molasses in your AACT.
The at home AACT production is more than a bit misleading. They oversimplify way too much. Honestly, I witnessed some things in that part of the video that made me squirm. If you watch the video, notice the quantities of foods put into the brewer at Harvard and the quantity put in the home made brewer. When you consider the Harvard brewer holds 250 gallons and the home made brewer about 25, you can see they were seriously overloading the home made brewer. Without trying to explain all the details here, just by the quantity of foods put into the mix, I’d worry about the quality of the end product from the home brewer. I also had some concerns about the cleanliness of their home made rig. If you’re really interested in making AACT at home, I recommend the Compost Tea Brewing Manual by Dr. Elaine Ingham. It outlines the process quite well. It’s always important to remember when you’re working with AACT and compost for that matter, you’re dealing with living organisms and everything you do will affect their living space.
A high quality compost with a wide diversity of microorganisms is the main key to producing good AACT. Beware of anyone who claims coffee grounds are a brown material in compost. Any food waste is a green material in the world of compost. Green being the designation of materials high in nitrogen. The actual color of the material is irrelevant, but that’s another long discussion we’re not going to have here right now.
If you’d like to see a picture of some of the organisms found in soil, there’s one on the main Mauby site. Click here to take a look. We also have a page outlining some of the basic questions on AACT.
If you have questions on how effective AACT can be, check out our projects page for some examples.
If you still don’t understand why anyone would use AACT, you can ask an expert. Have you used AACT? Leave a comment we’ll talk about it. If you want us to spray AACT on your lawn, head to our main site and get in touch.
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I put compost tea out on the turf demo area at the Arena Green in San Jose recently. While I was there, I took some follow up photos. We are at the end of the first year of transitioning from conventional turf management to biological turf management. The test patch is managed without synthetic fertilizers and is not supposed to get any pesticides or herbicides. One herbicide application was made this past summer by mistake. The biological management utilized compost tea, compost top dressings and mineral supplementation as needed.
These photos were taken on 22-Dec-09. Since it was late December and we had some cold weather, many of the grasses had gone dormant. The photos seem to make it clear which patch has a more active soil beneath it. You can always go by and take a look for yourself by taking a walk along the Guadalupe River Trail. The test and control areas are between Julian St and St John St not far from the HP Pavilion. You can find the the demo plot on Google Maps.
As always, you can get more information on our company and services at our main site. www.mauby.com
The lambs arrived in the orchard yesterday. They are there to help eat down the unwanted undergrowth. Essentially, they are part of weed control. Conversations had been going on over the last few years between me and City of San Jose staff, on how to get a grazer into the orchard to help control growth. Goats were the initial thought because they are used regularly for weed control, but goats will eat anything and would have damaged the trees. Thoughts turned to sheep since they are a more gentle grazer. This past spring, some sheep were brought to the orchard as a side project of a larger grazing control project the city has going on at the water treatment plant. Sadly, after only a couple of days, the sheep started peeling bark and eating the buds off the trees and had to be removed. At that point, the folks that own the animals considered using lambs since they are smaller, and can be trained to a point. Hence, lambs in the orchard.
It’s all part of a larger plan to improve the health of the fruit trees by improving the condition of the soil. Previously, the soil in the orchard was tilled multiple times a year to control weeds. Over the years the repeated tillage destroyed the structure of the orchard soil. Compaction had become a huge problem. The tillage also had to stop because the orchard is potentially burrowing owl habitat. The long term goal is to rebuild the soil in the orchard, but it will take a few seasons to get there. We started mulching last year and managed to get most of the orchard covered. The corner that didn’t get mulched is where the lambs are finding food. They will be there for a while to control any new growth that starts as the orchard gets rained on. Stop by and have a look.
You can find information on Guadalupe River Park and Gardens, including where to park, schedules of classes and all other information of what goes on in the park at grpg.org.
To read more about the history of the project, you can check the project page our main web site.
More pictures of the lambs can be seen on our Facebook page.