Monday, March 15, 2010

When There's Something Strange On Your Carrot Bed, Who Ya Gonna Call? MOSSBUSTERS


Before we dive into the super cool magical backpack above, let's take a step back and talk a little about the problem at hand and about the special solution that will be going inside this fancy looking pack.
As you can see in the picture below, there is a lot of dark green moss spreading itself over the top layer of soil where the plants are growing.  Moss is a type of plant that grows in damp, dark places.  While some people purposely grow moss for aesthetic reasons, in this case it is a weed.  You want as little competition as possible when trying to grow a specific plant.  If not monitored, the moss can create a hard top layer of soil inhibiting plant growth. So what is the solution?  Well there are many, both natural and chemically produced, but at the farm they choose to focus on all natural approaches without bringing in outside chemicals and pesticides; instead, they use various herbal teas.

Me on Saturday:  "Tea you say?  Why that sounds preposterous"  
Me on Sunday:  "I know this may sound preposterous, but just as we can benefit from the nutrients found in herbal teas, so can plants."

This time we used Horestail herbal tea.  The farm uses chamomile tea too. 

The exact same principles are used for making "moss-fighting" tea as they are for making any other tea only the steeping process takes much longer.  Using 1/4 quart of tea leaves to 4 quarts of boiling water, the tea is left for at least 4 hours.
The tea is then added to the mist spraying backpack where the rest is filled with water.
Once Matt was initiated with the ceremonial yellow garb, we grabbed the boom box and ventured out to stop the moss right in its tracks.

Sara explained that the side pump increased the water pressure, but that a little bit of tea can go a long way. This one backpack was used for the entire room, so spraying sparingly is the key.  Some beds will have more moss than others, so use more only when needed.

There is clearly a very fine line between a tea spraying pack and a Protonpack...

You want to make sure to get every bed twice, but since the beds are side by side you can do this by going down each row once spraying two beds each time.

You want to keep your pace steady and your arms swaying from side to side, but not too wide to avoid the chance of the hose detaching from the backpack.  Look at Matt's face...You can't fake those teeth people.  Only a guy working overtime all week in Manhattan can get this excited about spraying tea on a Saturday morning at the farm...gotta love it.

Sometimes the tea leaves get caught in the hose nozzle which will restrict the water flow, but cleaning it out is pretty easy.

WARNING: Tea may contain all natural herbs that are healthy and beneficial to both people and plants.
In order to prove that we aren't lying and there aren't any secret chemicals or pesticides being used here, we decided to have a good old fashioned spray down.  It's a lot like a hoedown only instead of do-si-doing, I get doused with tea.

Delicious...well no, but definitely all natural.

Horsetail Herb (Equisetum Arvense) is one of the coolest herbs I've ever read about.  Its family, the Equisetaceae, has been around over 300 million years.  It has seen it all from dinosaurs to dentists, how many organisms can you name that can make that statement?  It contains silica which is known for repairing and strengthening bones and tissue.  Horsetail can act as a diuretic and also help heal wounds, burns and reduce inflammation.

Moss can be a real pain, especially in the winter, but that doesn't mean you need to go out and buy processed chemicals.  There are many holistic ways to treat these disturbances and just like any other decision, it's always to good to learn all of your options first.  


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