A Note from Farmer Al

Dear CSA Members,

The 2019 crop year is beginning, as apricot flower buds start "pushing" (growing in farmer dialect). The first stage of observable growth in apricots is called "redbud," and out first varieties are at that stage. Apricots are susceptible to brown right blossom blight at red bud stage and with recent storms, we realized that we were at risk of blossoms being struck by this dreaded fungal disease.

I decided that compost tea would be our best protection so I asked Christophe to prepare the "pre-culture" of compost, which is used to brew the tea. It consists of 5 lbs of vermicompost (compost made with the help of worms) moistened with a few ounces each of fish hydrolysate, humic acid, and seaweed. After several days at room temperature, the compost tea is very biologically active, covered in a grey webbing of mold and ready to brew.

This "pre-culture" is then placed in a large plastic mesh bag and suspended in 300 gallons of water in a cone-shaped tank specially designed for brewing compost tea. The whole idea of compost tea is to biologically amplify trillions of microbes (bacteria, fungi, protozoa, amoeba, etc) in water and then to immediately spray this water onto the tree, thereby colonizing the trees vulnerable soft tissue with healthy "good" microbes which will compete with or even consume the bad fungi which causes damage to our crop.

Looking at the weather reports it looks like February will be wet, putting out apricots at risk yet again. I am confident that our compost tea will provide good protection from brown rot.

But I am hoping we don't get hit by a late freeze. It's what destroyed our apricots last year. Nothing we can do for that problem.

All my best,

Farmer Al