Today I feel like tooting my own horn! Over the years, many of you sent me great feedback, charming compliments, and more than one “frequently asked question”. In this blog I’d like to share some of them. Enjoy!

Question: “I have always been a seaweed gatherer. It’s a generous group of plants adding so much nutrition to my soil and I have such respect for it. In the past several years however it has become almost a social and ecological crime to collect seaweed from our shores here on […] Island. The science seems to suggest that removing seaweed is harmful to the marine ecosystem and that this practice should cease. I am wondering if you have encountered this and what your thoughts are about this issue?” —Pamela

My Answer: Very valid point. I too oppose the wholesale scraping off of seaweed from the entire beach (think front end loaders, trucks, etc). That’s definitely not okay! Yes, the ocean foreshore and beaches too are ecosystems. I gather from above the high tide line after a particularly big storm when all of the beach is covered in green stuff several inches thick. And I take three 5-gal pails, two or three times in the fall, max. So, less than ten pails… I think this is a responsible amount. This is just for composting and mulching in my own yard. The kelp fertilizer I sell is from a BC company and is actually fished offshore, not beachcast.

Nice note: “Thank you Christina!! You have been very helpful, communicative, and timely in your dealings with us and that we very much appreciate. Kindest regards” —Morris

Question: “By the way… interesting conversation with […] the other day. We were talking about beneficial fungi and he feels that they are present in sea soil and they are the ones that are natural to our area, therefore better than buying other forms. Comment?” —Ellen

My Answer: […] is partially right, there are fungi in Sea Soil (TM); but fungi come in many different forms, and the mycorrhizal ones (e.g. those symbiotic ones that are so essential for plant establishment, P and N uptake, and drought resistance), cannot be found in compost products because they need a living plant host. So it’s good to have both!

Nice note: “Best garden and vegetables ever. This year we’re doing a bigger garden!!!” —Kathy

Question: “Hi Christina, wondering if you could help me in locating compost tea bags. I run an organic lawn care company and want to start producing my own tea on a larger scale.” —Rob

My Answer: Right on, Rob! Look for paint straining bags, the type that fits over a 5gal pail. If you can afford to be technical, the mesh size should be 400 microns. But anything coarser will work, as long as you don’t get particles so big they clog your spray equipment.

Question: “I recently purchased some of your already Activated EM. I like to regularly use compost teas mainly brewed with earth worm castings […]. Can I use EM and bubble it for 24-48 hours with some molasses and kelp to greatly increase the microbial population in the tea?” —Greg

My Answer: When you make aerated compost tea, the high oxygen content of the water is great for multiplying the aerobic microbes in compost. But the microbes in EM are facultative anaerobes (fermenters) who do not like all that much oxygen. You can of course add some EM to a tea, but do it after the brewing is finished and just before you apply it. Use a 1:100 dilution rate (or less). That’s 200mL per 5 gallons of tea, maximum.

Question: “Is Activated EM supposed to be fizzy/carbonated? The product has been inconsistent between past orders with some bottles having fizz but the most recent one was flat.” —Adam

My Answer: I have noticed over the years that each brew behaves differently — some are very fizzy, some are slow or nearly flat or start fizzing quite late in the fermentation process. Some fizz only when shaken up. I have seen a pattern of more fizzy brews during warm summer weather (but, not always). The fizz comes from the microbes producing CO2 while they consume the molasses. It diminishes over time as the molasses gets used up and the microbes slow down their metabolism. In order to determine if a product turned out good or not, it’s the pH test that has the last word. Between pH 2.9 and 3.8 we’re okay. I don’t ship anything that falls outside that range. In the end, it’s a live product and lots of factors play a role. Store undiluted product, in a cool and dark place, with the cap on tight.

Nice note: “Your EM works awesome. It’s like magic in a bottle! Thanks. My plants look super healthy and thriving!” —Don