Friday, September 3, 2010

We Got Sprayed!

Sheri Powell-Wolff of Compost Teana's Organic Landscape Design and Maintenance, came over to The Learning Garden yesterday to spray our basil plants.  We will have our famous Pesto Day on September 25th and we need to have all the growth on these basil plants that we can get by then.  We will prune off any flowers that form (and put them in salads!) and that will help the plants get bigger.  

Sheri's company, Compost Teana's (get it?) provides 'aerated compost tea brewing and application service for Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego' - she also does organic landscape design and maintenance.  And her name is NOT Teana.  Right. The key is ACT - aerated compost tea.  In the past a shovel full of compost was dropped in a burlap bag and allowed to 'brew' overnight - kind of the 'Lipton Tea' model of infusing.  That methodology has gone the way of the postprandial cigarette. 

Sheri started to learn about compost teas and how to make the aerobically active compost teas from a book that I often recommend, Teaming With Microbes, and has gone on to study it much more in depth.  I know that the compost tea she sprayed on my plants will work with the plants to make them more lush and substantial, without a lot of that soft growth that comes from just fertilizer.  If you are a gardener of any kind, I urge you to read the Teaming book.  I had been tapped to teach a class on soils to help out for one quarter at UCLA Extension, and I finished this book about halfway through the course. It opened my eyes and I changed all the rest of my lectures in the course to reflect what I had learned. This books points the way to the future and a new model for how we grow plants. 

A mid-summer crop failure left us bereft of most of the basil we will need for pesto day, September 25th (it gives me the willies just to write that date!) and since we use a special Italian basil, we can't just run out and steal leaves from anyone's basil, although that had crossed my mind.  It is the ingredients in a recipe, any chef or good cook will tell you, that makes a dish special and that's what we have here:  heirloom garlic from European stock, basil that was bred in Italy and really good olive oil and Parmesan cheese.  We grind all these ingredients with freshly picked basil and jar it up for sale - Pesto Madness Pesto.  And we're not the only people who say it's the besto pesto!  This stuff is magnificent over pasta or just on bread.  

Pesto Madness Pesto goes on sale September 25th in the Garden.  You may prepay to reserve yourself a jar or two.  This year, we expect to not have nearly as many jars to sell as last year!  And we always run out.  Orders are filled on a first come, first served basis.  $10 for an 8 ounce jar of heavenly pesto.


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