Thursday, September 26, 2013

How To Make and Use Compost Tea

What is Compost Tea?
Compost Tea is a liquid made from compost which contains beneficial microorganisms and helpful plant compounds. It is used to replace chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides. Compost Tea is more than simply a suspension of compost material in water. The tea is a good overall plant health booster. Healthy plants are better able to resist pests and diseases.

Compost Tea is made one of two ways: with aeration and without. Take some finished compost material from either an outside bin or finished vermicompost and soak it in water for several days. I like to use an aquarium bubbler to make the aerated variety because I think it helps the aerobic microorganisms grow faster. There seem to be as many recipes out there as people making it, but I like to keep mine relatively simple by using things I already have onsite.

Making Compost Tea

How I make Compost Tea:
  1. Put some water into a bucket. If you are using chlorinated tap water, it is best to let the water sit for a day first to let the chlorine dissipate. I filled a five gallon bucket about half full. Since I have a small one gallon sprayer, I don’t like to make large batches. 
  2. Fill an old sock with a few handfuls of finished compost. In this case, I used a handful of finished vermicompost from my worm bin and a handful of finished compost from the regular compost bin outside. Making Compost Tea
  3. Tie the sock to a stick, so it doesn’t fall all the way in. Then add the aquarium bubbler. Making Compost Tea
  4. I held my aquarium bubbler down with a small rock since it wanted to float. Let it sit for several days. I like to wait about a week, and just leave it bubbling away in the basement laundry room. It doesn’t smell bad at any time in the process. Making Compost Tea
  5. A week later, you can see the color has gotten much darker. Some of the compost has dissolved into the water, and microorganisms are thriving in the oxygen rich environment. Use it immediately after turning off the bubbler for maximum benefit. Making Compost Tea

How do you use Compost Tea?
Compost Tea can be used two ways: spraying and as a soil drench. I use mine both ways. I fill my sprayer up first. I use a small one gallon sprayer since my yard isn’t very big. This sprayer has only been used for compost tea, so there shouldn’t be any harmful chemical residue behind to interfere with the compost tea.

Making Compost Tea

I spray it on the non-edible parts of the plant. In the photo below, I am spraying one of my small blueberry plants. It should be applied very early in the morning or later in the evening to minimize the effects of UV rays on the microorganisms.

Making Compost Tea

After I am done spraying the leaves of plants. I pour the remainder out into the root zone as a soil drench. This helps to build up the soil microbial populations. Healthy soil leads to healthy plants.

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