Equisetum Tea: decrease our use of sulfur in the vineyards is the use of equisetum tea. Step-by-step guide to preparing Equisetum Tea at home.
|Measuring the dried equisetum for tea.|
One of the reasons that we can decrease our use of sulfur in the vineyards is the use of equisetum tea. Never is the difference between conventional and Biodynamic farming more evidenced! In conventional farming fungicides and sulfur (not a chemical and thereby also acceptable in organic and biodynamic farming) kill the spores of mildew which would cause decay in the grape bunches. In contrast, equisetum tea, a plant source of silica, encourages the death forces of the mildew to remain on the earth, where they belong, not in the grape bunches. Silica is a drying force.
|We boil 10 ounces of the equisetum per gallon of water.|
Our tea is prepared by boiling the equisetum in water for an hour, then letting it ferment for 10 days. This allows us to use less than we would need to use if we used fresh tea. But beware! The fermented version smells terrible! We spray at the full and the new moon.
|Equisetum tea fermenting in basement for 10 days.|
We need considerably less sulfur than before to control mildew, but most convincing of the tea’s effectiveness are the two years it rained at harvest. Our neighbor lost his entire chardonnay crop, quite vulnerable to mildew, both years; many chardonnay growers in the valley lost as much as 30%; we lost grapes only along the boundary with our neighbor.
Of course, good farming is also important in controlling mildew. We pull leaves so air can pass through the vines, drying, while still shading clusters from burning sunlight that will come later.