Compost tea, compost extract. No matter what term you stick to, it’s just compost and water, a perfect lawn and garden fodder for those who want a liquid addition to their plants and soil, for those who only produce small amounts of compost, or for those who may not have the physical strength to spread compost. But how best to make compost tea is common.The liquid that drains from the bottom of your compost heap is not a compost tea. It’s called Compost leaching and should never be applied to your garden plants. Compost leaching usually contains very high concentrations of salts and microbes, which can adversely affect your plants and soil. It should also be noted that compost tea is only organic if the raw materials used in the compost are organic.
What is compost tea?
The big idea behind compost tea is that it quickly provides nutrients to plants. The microbe-rich solution suppresses plant diseases and helps build a healthy soil. Compost and thus compost tea contain a large number of nutrients and micronutrients such as calcium, sulfur, boron, iron and magnesium, which are not available in commercially available N-P-K fertilizers. Because each compost load has different nutrient ratios depending on the source material, it is impossible to say how much of an element is in your compost. But healthy bacteria are abundant in any properly processed compost, and the organic material helps plants use nutrients in the soil quickly and efficiently.
Aerobic versus non-aerobic compost tea
There are two methods of making compost tea: non-aerobic or aerobic, and which is superior tea is widely used. The difference is that air is pushed in by bubbling (aerobic) and you are simply stirred once a day (not aerobic).
Many articles describe sophisticated devices for the production of aerobic compost tea. However, this only complicates a very simple process (some people want to endlessly tinker with things that don’t need to be fixed). Dozens of research have shown that aerobic compost tea (compared to non-aerobic compost tea) does not offer significant protection against plant diseases. The additional microbes in the aerobic brew, which depend on high oxygen concentrations, are ultimately deposited in a mostly non-aerobic medium (your soil), and the oxygen content in the soil does not support the aerobic bacteria. The aerobic microbial population crashes almost immediately.
Non-aerobic compost tea, loaded with microbes that thrive in the soil, is easy to prepare, easy to use, and great for providing nutrients to plants and suppressing disease. How it suppresses disease is still a mystery, but the benefits were clear in the A / B garden property research conducted by the Rodale Institute. However, compost tea is not a miracle cure for suppressing or fertilizing diseases. You should also practice crop rotation in your vegetable garden, prune carefully if necessary, sprinkle with compost and mulch if necessary.
Recipe for non-aerated compost tea
- Fill a 5 gallon bucket 3/4 full. When filling with chlorinated municipal water, leave the water to stand overnight so that the chlorine evaporates.
- Put 1 liter of finished, properly hardened compost in the water bucket (there is a big difference in microbial activity and the types of microbes in finished and unfinished compost). The compost does not have to be wrapped in burlap or cheesecloth. Just drop it straight into the bucket. One liter in 5 gallons is a 1:20 ratio that should be maintained for containers of any size.
- Mix well.
- Cover the bucket loosely to reduce evaporation – a piece of plywood is perfect. Do not close the bucket tightly, because the “good” bacteria need air to multiply.
- Store the compost tea bucket in a shady place away from direct sunlight (UV rays and high temperatures kill useful bacteria).
- Stir thoroughly once a day.
- After 10 days, the compost tea is ready to use (it can be used earlier, but the number of microbes is lower).
- Compost tea made in this way can be stored for up to 6 months and used at any stage of plant development – from seed to ripeness.
- Dilute the compost tea at least 1: 5 with fresh water before applying it to plants, lawns and soil. Your compost tea may contain inorganic salts such as magnesium sulfide. If these elements are not diluted, they can harm plants. You can dilute the tea up to 1:60 and it is still effective.
- Strain with a cheesecloth or fine strainer before use to remove any material that could clog your watering can or automatic feeder.
- Compost tea can be used as a leaf spray or soil soak 2-4 times during the season.
- After the garden harvest, use plenty of compost tea to replenish the soil microbes at a rate of 1 gallon per square foot. This also gives superior disease suppression.
A note on starters for compost tea
It is not necessary and is not recommended to add “starters” such as molasses or other sugar to the compost tea. Sugar is the preferred growth medium for E. Coli bacteria, and you can bet that your compost will contain at least a small amount of these common bacteria, especially if you use animal manure in your compost. E. Coli occurs naturally, but is kept under control by beneficial bacteria. If you are promoting the growth of E. coli with sugar, you might be asking for real problems like bowel disease or worse. If you know it exactly, everything your plants need is already included in the compost. So why waste money adding additional ingredients?