Tuesday, February 14, 2012

From the Garden to the Garden: Chamomile tea an all-natural, chemical-free solution to prevent fungal development

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One of the beautiful things about working on a farm focused on sustainable, regenerative agriculture is the emphasis on the living system.  The plants we grow are only as strong as the soil they grow in and in-turn depend on the thriving ecosystem of microbiology found in the soil as well as the added nutrients used to increase soil vitality.  This provides a strong base from which plants thrive and produce healthy, delicious food.  Understanding that, we are focused first and foremost on buildling the strongest and healthiest soil possible.  During Fall, Winter and Spring transitions, many people become more susceptible to disease and I've noticed that the soil also faces these same challenges.  Unlike my ENT who likes to just hand me a bunch of antibiotics and walk out the door, The Captain uses some very effective old school methods of boosting the soil's immune system and this way there is no need to toss relatively new chemical solutions at an age old problem that has already created it's own solutions long ago.  The best part is so many of these all-natural solutions are found right in our own backyard.  Although the soil we are working in at Stone Barns has a healthy base of organic matter through compost and other natural soil amendments like Kelp, every fall and winter season there seems to be an onset of fungal and moss issues as the humidity and cool weather combine to be a haven for these infestations.  In order to counteract this, we use a number of all natural solutions, one of which is chamomile which can be found growing all summer in the terrace garden.  This comes in handy, not only for hot tea on cold winter nights, but as a great...


immune builder for the soil.  The chamomile helps by boosting the soils defense against fungal pathogens and mosses that can become a major problem if growing or propagating in cool moist climates like the greenhouse.






Taking a large handful of dried chamomile and placing it in a 2 gallon pot of boiling water, I let this mixture sit for about an hour covered.  Then turn off the stove and leave it in the pot for an entire day to let the mixture start to ferment before I spray it in the greenhouse.


On the day I am ready to spray, I filter out all of the material leaving only the fermented tea solution.



There are differnt kinds of sprayers you can buy, some are cheaper than others, but luckily we have this great handpump backpack made by Birchmeier that makes the process much easier.







A little chamomile for the bed, a little chamomile for me, everyone wins ( But I win twice because I don't have to watch all the hard work in the greenhouse get destroyed by the insanely thick mosses that fights for space with all of our plants)



And always remember, as with all tools, a clean sprayer is a happy sprayer, just look at that smile....


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