How to make Compost Tea
Compost tea is used for Microbe Gardening. Microbe Gardening is the use of beneficial micro-organisms that are either applied directly to the leaves or administered in the soil, directly to the roots. Many use compost tea as an organic fertilizer to restore much needed beneficial bacteria, fungi, and protozoa back into the soil. Others use compost tea as a foliar spray to reduce disease, fight insects. The high nitrogen gives them little buggers a stroke.
A concentrated “Tea” liquid, full of billions of micro-organisms (Bacteria, Fungi, Protozoa, Nematodes) that can then be sprayed directly onto the leaf surface. This puts the “good” biology where the plant needs it, to protect itself. It keeps the plant healthier and helps it fight off potential diseases. The “good” biology occupies the infection sites on the leaf surface and is held there by simple sugars that the plant puts out, this works as a glue to keep the beneficial micro-organisms thriving and protecting the plant. This Tea will ward off bugs and feed you plants organically too. Both of best worlds. Compost tea will allow your roots to delve deeper and uptake the proper nutrients that will give you larger veggies. Like a 50lb cabbage!
How to make Compost Tea:
There are different ways to make tea but I have found this was the easiest and cheapest for me. You will need:
5 gallon bucket,
Aerator pump (Fish tank pump –>)
some 1/4″ tubing for the pump (approx 5 ft)
Old unwanted pillow case
Black Trash bag
Ph Down or Phosphoric Acid (you can find at Hydroponic store)
Manure (steer is fine) “Although organic is preferred, the better the quality the better the Tea”
Molasses (un Sulphered)
“Like Mothers” I buy it by the gallon at the ‘bigger’ where house stores saves $$
1. Fill 5 gallon bucket 3/4 full of water
If you have Reverse Osmosis water or use distilled you can omit the Ph down or Acid. If using tap water, you will need to let the water ‘blow-off’ overnight. It will let the Chlorine dissipate. Use about a 1/4 OZ of the PH down to 5 gallons of H20. I would recommend having a Ph meter for any serious Gardener. That acid should bring the H2o down to about 5PH. By keeping the Ph low it will help the Good bacteria live.Your Bucket will be ready when the Chlorine is blown off and the water or H20 is at 5 PH.
2. Making the Tea Bag
Load about a shovel full or enough Manure in that ‘old pillow case to fit in the bucket of water without overflowing the bucket. One can tie the pillow case off or you can use some Bailing wire or cut down an old coat hanger to crimp or clamp off that pillow case.
3. Add about a half cup of unsulferd Molasses into the bucket of water
(This is the food for the microbes) “Like Flour is to Yeast”.
4. Time to attach the air line to the pump. You want the air line to reach the bottom of the bucket and maybe even weight it down with a lead weight or rock etc…So the end of the air hose stays at the bottom of the bucket. For the Microbes to live the H2o needs to be aerated.
5. Place the pillow case of Manure into the aerated, Molasses rich H20.
6. Cover with Black Bag and if you can keep it under 95 degrees and warmer then 60. For optimum growing conditions. In about 2 days you will have Tea. This Tea can be applied to your plants via a Hudson Sprayer.
*Important this Tea is Hot with Nutes so diluting is important as well as you can stretch it out too. I would recommend no stronger then 30% strength. When ‘cutting’ or watering down the Tea Remember that same H2o needs to be used as the one you created it with. *If you are using Tap water see step 1.
(The chlorinate water will kill the beneficals you just grew)
Because you are using Manure and the Bacteria and microbes are essentially made from Molasses and Manure. One needs to be aware of cleaning veggies well as well as stop spraying about 10 days before harvesting.
To maintain you tea, your tea will smell earthy when doing well. If it becomes sour smelling, no problem add some balanced H20,1/2 cup molasses to it. That molasses will overcome the bad bacteria and it will be balanced again.
*Note Flies love this stuff—so when you make your tea, let it steep or aerate away from conversation areas etc… Happy gardening from us at Plantstay.
If you don’t start with good compost, don’t add the correct/balanced amount of nutrients, or don’t keep the brew sufficiently aerated, you could be growing more “pathogens” rather than the “beneficials,” and end up with compost tea that could potentially harm your plants. Very noticeable by a sour smell as opposed to that earthy smell you are after. Much more likely, is that the compost tea would be low in Good bacteria and fungi and have little more effect than putting water on your plant.