Compost Tea is a  Cool Cuppa Grow


Included in this article:

  • Fertilizer in a Tea Cup… Not
  • Brew Up Some Compost Tea
  • Eric’s Compost Tea Recipe

  • You’ve heard me talk about compost before. I love the stuff. It’s great on oatmeal – just kidding. Seriously, compost is like black gold in the garden. It’s an organic way to create a healthy soil environment where microbial life converts organic matter from your kitchen into nutrients that your plants will love. But there’s something even better than compost. It’s something I like to call Cuppa Grow.  Trust me on this, your plants will love every last drop. (read on…)

    Fertilizer in a Tea Cup… Not

    While this isn’t something you would serve in fine china it is good for your plants.  Compost tea is more than fertilizer. It involves all the good and bad microorganisms living in your soil. You already know adding compost to your garden enriches the soil and adds loads of nutrients to your plants. Well, compost tea is a concentrated solution of plain old compost, brewed into a liquid that can be poured around plants or sprayed directly on the foliage.

    Studies have found the microorganisms literally explode when mixed into this special brew. Not only are those good microbes chomping away and creating nutrients, but also their vast numbers squeeze out the disease causing bad microbes.

    Brew Up a Batch

    Compost tea is not hard to brew up yourself. You can buy a commercial system and be ready to go in no time. Commercial systems usually come with a bucket or container for the tea, filters, compost tea catalyst and a pump to agitate the water. The aerating process seems to make the microbes grow faster and needs to run from 12 to 24 hours (definitely not something you’re going to do by hand). The cost can be anywhere from $50 and on up, depending on how large and fancy you want to go.  A good middle of the road system should cost about $100, like this one:  The Bountea Garden Brew Kit http://www.bountea.com/

    Buying a whole system in one shot is an easy solution but you can also create your own system with not much work or expense. A five or 10-gallon plastic container should be fine.  Stuff the compost into a filter. Think of this as the tea bag. The leg of an old panty hose works well.  Add a bit of compost tea catalyst, generally a rich brew of seaweed extract and minerals, to enhance microbial growth. Check with your local garden center or order a catalyst online from Bountea as well. A little goes a long way, so follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

    You’ll also need a small aquarium or fountain pump. Even a small 10-gallon an hour pump is sufficient for agitating the tea and should cost around $10.

    Eric’s Compost Tea Recipe

    Supplies:

    • Five to 10 gallon plastic bucket
    • Compost (from your own pile)
    • Filter (one leg from a pair of pantyhose)
    • String
    • Small aquarium or fountain pump


    Instructions:

    1. Fill the container with water. If you’re using city water, it may have chlorine in it, so let it sit for about a day in order for the chlorine to evaporate. Alternatively, use distilled water so you can get to work right away.
    2. Add the catalyst to the water and swish around. You can think of this as munchies for your microbes.
    3. Stuff your filter (the leg of a panty hose) with good-quality compost. Tie it off with a string. Just like a tea bag, dunk the filter into the water.
    4. Add the aquarium pump to the container and set to run for 12 to 24 hours. It’ll look frothy. That’s good because that’s where the nutrients and microorganisms live.
    5. Pour the compost tea around the base of your plants or use it as a spray. Use the compost left over in the filter on your plants, too. Don’t let that good stuff go to waste.


    Online Resources:

    Compost Teas as Easy as 1-2-3 from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
    http://www.dep.state.pa.us/dep/deputate/airwaste/wm/recycle/tea/tea1.htm

    How to Make Compost Tea & Why You Should from Treehugger
    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/02/how-to-make-use-compost-tea.php

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