Tendercare Nurseries hails compost tea feed

Tendercare Nurseries reports better plant growth and fewer pests after introducing new system.

Starcombe brews the nurseries' feed in a 600-litre tank - image: Tendercare Nurseries
Starcombe brews the nurseries' feed in a 600-litre tank - image: Tendercare Nurseries

Tendercare Nurseries has said using compost tea rather than inorganic chemical feeds has shown a "marked improvement" in plant growth and a drop in pest and disease attacks.

Technical manager James Stancombe has worked on developing the compost tea programme at Denham with the supplier Symbio.

He said using compost tea with an eco-system of bacteria, amoeba and nematodes for feeding - instead of inorganic chemical feeds - introduced organisms that normally live in soil into the nursery's compost.

Stancombe "brews" in a 600-litre tank and recently completed a year with the system. The idea came from a conference at organic farm Laverstoke Park.

Using the brew as a feed allows plant cells to photosynthesise better and thickens plant cell walls, coating roots with beneficial fungi and assisting the take-up of water and nutrients.

Stancombe said: "Since we started using this method we have seen a marked improvement in the growth of the plants on the nursery and a noticeable drop in the incidence of pest and disease attacks."

He added that the move from an inorganic system to a plant-growing organic system had been risky but it had paid off in plant health.

It also brought safer working practices for staff by not using nitric acid, fewer pest and disease controls and stimulating interest in the day-to-day job.

The end of the meadow look - Time for new garden design trends

Tendercare Nurseries owner Andrew Halksworth said garden designers were stuck in a rut and should move on to something new now that the meadow look has been done to death.

Halksworth, who supplies many garden designers and landscapers, said: "Someone needs to step out and say: 'Hey guys, there are some nice plants out there other than what you are using.'"

He added that the "slightly impoverished meadow look has been done, but when you look at the variety of structural woody plants available, many plants are out of fashion - such as Hydrangea quercifolia - amazing plants but not on anyone's radar at the moment, which is a shame".

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