Applying compost tea on lawns

rosesr4me(z9 FL_west)March 12, 2012

I am in the process of making about 15 gallons of aerated compost tea for my St. Augustine lawn. I will be applying it with a watering can. A few questions...

I am not on well water. Will watering the tea into my lawn using potable water (ie. chlorinated) harm the microorganisms? I applied mushroom compost 2 weeks ago and was about to turn on my sprinklers, but thought otherwise.

Is it possible to have a good microherd despite having cholorinated water??

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Making compost tea with chlorinated, ie. municipal, water is not a problem since the amount of bacteria will simply overwhelm the chlorine. However, Jeff Gillman, in his newest book, says that making compost, or manure, teas can also increase the population of disease pathogens, E-Coli, Salmonella, Listeria, etc.
If your soil does not have sufficient levels of the Soil Food Web at best your compost tea will only be a short term solution to a problem. If you have sufficient organic matter in your soil now the Soil Food Web should be active enough that spraying compost tea will have little benefit.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 12:06PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

If you already applied compost you don't need tea. The microbes you get from tea is only a subset of microbes available in the compost.

Here in San Antonio we had a group of organic professionals attend a training course by Dr Ingham on how to make compost tea and measure the results with a microscope and stains. One of those people has done some research using tap water. They found the fungal population of the tea was cut in half using fresh tap water as opposed to just letting the tap water gas off the chlorine for a few days.

Compost tea will not grow any population of pathogens unless the pathogens are in the compost. If you have excellent compost that has finished composting. Fresh manure should never be used for compost. Your mushroom compost should be fine.

I do agree if your soil is growing normal grass, it probably has plenty of beneficial microbes. If you want to improve the turf performance, is likely you need fertilizer rather than compost.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 1:22PM
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rosesr4me(z9 FL_west)

Thank you both for your replies. I am leery about making manure teas, so I usually just stick with the plant stuff.

David...I am trying to resurrect a portion of my lawn that has died. Large bare spots with compacted soil. I have applied various grains (alfalfa, cornmeal, soybean) but the St. Augustinegrass is not creeping into the bare spots. So I came to the conclusion that I must not have a good microherd/good soil - hence the mushroom compost and tea (made with vericompost, mushroom compost, alfalfa pellets, molasses, seaweed, and a handful of garden soil). This weekend I filled the bare areas with a blend of builders sand, mushroom compost, and peat hoping that a substrate will build to support the grass stolons.

I do let the tap water off gas for a few days before brewing compost tea - I was wondering if running my sprinker system (fed off tap water)will hinder the growth of microbes in the soil. I did read here on the forum that water emitted through sprinklers has time to off gas before hitting the soil. What do you two think?

Thanks in advance for any insight!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 10:40AM
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Most every municipal water system that uses chlorine as a disinfectant now uses Sodium Hypochlorate, a more stable chlorine product then chlorine which wanted to return to its gaseous state as quickly as possible. Having cylinders or tanks of liquid Chlorine around was dangerous since accidents happened and releases of Chlorine were common. NaOCl is much more stable and does not easily gas off. The idea of letting municipal water sit in an open bucket for 24 hours comes from the days of Chlorine so today you will need many more hours to eliminate the NaOCl.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 8:00AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I agree with kimmsr about the use of chlorinators other than chlorine. I believe they call it chloramine.

Try this to get your St Aug to spread better. Over fertilize it with a strong organic fertilizer. Apply about 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet at least every month. You can do it every week if you want to see the results faster. Last year I used corn gluten meal every month and was pleasantly surprised (if not shocked) at how much nicer my lawn looked. The second thing to try is watering a little more frequently. Frequent watering is something I have sworn to stamp out in the wild, but I did notice that my grass spread better when kept a little moister. Rather than watering monthly this time of year, you might try every 2 weeks. And the last thing is to stop mowing it. This has many effects among which are more shade on the soil, deeper roots bringing up deeper nutrients, and much less stress on the grass plants. If your spouse and neighbors will let you, let it go 2-3 weeks between mowing and then mow only at your mower's highest setting.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 3:03AM
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rosesr4me(z9 FL_west)

Thanks kimmsr and David for your replies.

I can't find corn gluten nor soybean meal here is west FL but will apply alfalfa every two weeks in the areas that are bare. The grass in the other lawn areas have responded nicely to all the compost tea, mushroom compost, corn meal, fish meal, etc. Only about 15% of the lawn is having issues that I have been trying to tackle.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 2:27PM
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My city water is treated with chlorimine and the city lab tells me that it does not dissipate easily. They still showed some in a lab test that was water in an open container at the end of a week.
Does anyone know how I should deal with chloramine? I am using a 5 gallon bucket and aerate with a four nozzle aquarium tank air pump now. Just more time than 24 hrs or?

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 5:55PM
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