Invite your garden for tea - compost tea! Photo by Amanda Jarrett
Plants Love a Cup of Compost Tea
I love a good cuppa, but although I am a big advocate of orange pekoe tea, compost tea is the tea of choice for soil dwelling micro-organisms and plants.
This potent brew is produced from compost. It’s a process that removes all the goodies in the compost and concentrates them. The finished product is like a tonic and is applied to soil and plants. It feeds the soil, plants and even controls insects and diseases. It reduces the negative impact of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals improves. Soil is able to retain more moisture without becoming saturated. It also buffers soil pH, whether it is too high or too low. It is considered a gardeners panacea as many organic gardeners can attest to.
It takes a couple of days to make a batch of compost tea and it should be used within 48 hours for full potency. Apply to all plants and soil, including lawns.
Things you will need
An aquarium pump, tubing, manifold and stone bubblers are available at aquarium stores. Ask for their assistance if you are unsure of how to set up the system.
You will need an outlet to plug in the pump. It’s best to set everything up outside, in the garage or the basement.
- Fill a bucket 1/3 to ½ of compost or good soil, but don’t pack it down.
- Attach the gangplank valve to the bucket rim.
- Slip on one end of the tubing from the pump to the gangplank valve.
- Cut the tube in half and insert the backflow preventer (check valve) to prevent the brew from entering the pump.
- To the gangplank, attach 3 lengths of tubing long enough so they rest slightly above the bottom of the bucket.
- Attach a bubbler to ends of each tube.
- Add the water from the bucket that was sitting overnight.
- Fill the bucket to about 6 inches from the limb.
- Plug in the pump so the water rolls vigorously.
- Adjust the flow with the adjustable knob located on the pump.
- Rotate the compost with a sturdy stick a few times a day.
- Check on the brew often to make sure the leads are moving around freely.
- After 48 hours the tea is brewed and ready to strain.
- Turn off the pump and remove all the pumping gear.
- Allow the compost tea to settle.
- Strain the brew by pouring it in a bucket with pantyhose firmly stretched over the bucket. Make sure it is secure.
- Slowly pour the compost tea over the bucket.
- Be careful at the end when the blob of compost plops out!
- Allow it to drain thoroughly and do reserve the solids.
- Use the compost tea within 48 hours as the microbes die as long as it sits.
How to Apply the COmpost Tea
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