Two new postings on compost tea efficacy – and safety

We just don’t have enough excitement on the blog, so I thought I’d bring up two new items that just crossed my virtual desk.  The first is today’s Garden Rant posting from Susan Harris.  I won’t spoil her well-written blog, but if you’ve been following the debate on the disease-control properties of compost tea, you’ll be interested in reading it.

The second was in an email from a colleague at the EPA on a new journal article.  Here’s what he said:

More potting soil and Legionella, this time in Scotland.  (Eurosurveillance, Volume 15, Issue 8, 25 February 2010).  Note that “other countries where L. longbeachae outbreaks have been reported” includes the U.S. but there is no required labeling here, though it is in Australia, New Zealand and possibly much of Europe.  Also note the association of Legionella mainly with droplets, and the possible connection to compost sprays as seem popular among do-it-yourself pesticide makers.

“The exact method of transmission is still not fully understood as Legionnaires’ disease is thought to be acquired by droplet inhalation. The linked cases associated with compost exposure call for an introduction of compost labeling, as is already in place in other countries where L. longbeachae outbreaks have been reported.”

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Linda Chalker-Scott

Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott has a Ph.D. in Horticulture from Oregon State University and is an ISA certified arborist and an ASCA consulting arborist. She is WSU’s Extension Urban Horticulturist and an Associate Professor in the Department of Horticulture, and holds two affiliate associate professor positions at University of Washington. She conducts research in applied plant and soil sciences, publishing the results in scientific articles and university Extension fact sheets. Linda also is the award-winning author of five books: the horticultural myth-busting The Informed Gardener (2008) and The Informed Gardener Blooms Again (2010) from the University of Washington Press and Sustainable Landscapes and Gardens: Good Science – Practical Application (2009) from GFG Publishing, Inc., and How Plants Work: The Science Behind the Amazing Things Plants Do from Timber Press (2015). Her latest effort is an update of Art Kruckeberg’s Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest from UW Press (2019). In 2018 Linda was featured in a video series – The Science of Gardening – produced by The Great Courses. She also is one of the Garden Professors – a group of academic colleagues who educate and entertain through their blog and Facebook pages. Linda’s contribution to gardeners was recognized in 2017 by the Association for Garden Communicators as the first recipient of their Cynthia Westcott Scientific Writing Award. "The Garden Professors" Facebook page - www.facebook.com/TheGardenProfessors "The Garden Professors" Facebook group - www.facebook.com/groups/GardenProfessors Books: http://www.sustainablelandscapesandgardens.com

2 thoughts on “Two new postings on compost tea efficacy – and safety”

  1. I am wondering if compost tea is different from worm tea? Are the potential benefits different? Are the health hazards reduced? My understanding is that worms reduce E. Coli and viruses, is this true?

  2. Justin, I’ve seen nothing that compares worm tea, compost tea, and water to determine if either tea has a significant effect on disease, nutrition, or any other function. Likewise, I don’t know of any study that has compared pathogen content of compost tea to that of worm tea. I do know that additives such as molasses are linked to human pathogen content, so I suppose it depends on how one makes worm tea.

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