Hello.  This Alex Sanders from Project Worth Outreach In Menifee County, Kentucky.   Todays post was submitted by David Freyman, one of our gardeners.  I hope you enjoy this post.

Today we are not talking about Black teas or Green teas or even Herbal Teas, but Compost Tea. You would not want to drink this tea but your plants and soil would love to have this for Tea time. I have been researching this & have used it in the past several years and wanted to share it with you.

What is compost tea?

Compost tea is a super concentration of all Beneficial Microbes that you would find in regular Compost.

 Start with good compost, give it some water, some aeration, and some time, and you’ll have a multipurpose elixir for your garden.

Gardeners all know compost is terrific stuff. But there’s something even better than plain old compost, and that’s compost tea. As the name implies, compost tea is made by steeping compost in water. It’s used as either a folia spray or a soil drench, depending on where your plant has problems.

Why go to the extra trouble of brewing, straining, and spraying a tea rather than just working compost into the soil? There are several reasons. First, compost tea makes the benefits of compost go farther. What’s more, when sprayed on the leaves, compost tea helps suppress folia diseases, increases the amount of nutrients available to the plant, and speeds the breakdown of toxins. Using compost tea has even been shown to increase the nutritional quality and improve the flavor of vegetables. If you’ve been applying compost to your soil only in the traditional way, you’re missing out on a whole host of benefits.

A 5 gallon bucket of compost tea if sprayed will do a one acre garden or lawn. This tea is concentrated and needs to be mixed with water at a 1 to 5 ratio when added directly to the soil and up to a 1 to 10 ratio when sprayed or watered over the foliage of the plants. When you add it to the soil it works just like regular compost but at a more concentrated level. It breaks down the soil so your vegetable plants will receive the nutrients more effectively. It will lessen your need for as much fertilizer and water. When spraying it on your plants it will deter insects and also acts as a fungicide. The ratio of these microbes will be about a ratio of 10,000 Bacteria to 5,000 Fungi microbes equaling hundreds of thousands of added microbes.

Some of these Benefits are:

Natural Fungicide

Microbes that damage insects

Improves nutrient usage to the point of saving 50% on fertilize

Makes the plants more drought resistant

Helps plants fight off the toxins in the air

If you can’t afford hundreds of pounds of compost, this will fill the bill.

Aerobically made compost tea can help make healthy soil. Healthy soil in turn resists disease and insects and improves the mineral content. A new group of growers have started reporting remarkable results from using aerated compost teas to boost plant health and help control plant pathogens (Pathogens or Pathogenic bacteria are bacteria that cause bacterial infection).

  In this age of chemicals much of the soil has lost much of its health because farmers and gardeners have grown comfortable with the thought that we need to use chemicals,  pesticides, fungicides, weed killers, etc to successfully grow crops instead of going the organic way as God intended.

 In order to accomplish this you need to make some actively aerated Compost tea.

There are 2 types of compost tea. One is anaerobic and the second is Aerobic compost tea. Anaerobic tea is made by just soaking the compost without introducing any air or stimulants. You could use this, but the better tea is Aerobic Tea made with oxygen added to keep the microbes alive and thriving.

To do this we will need :

 1.  To add oxygen to our tea

  1.  Do not over stimulate your microbes or they will start to die off because they will multiply to fast and run out of food.
  2.  Use your tea within 4 hours of finishing the brewing process or again you microbes will start to die off to lack of oxygen.
  3.  Don’t worry about doing anything wrong because you really can not overdo it and making compost  tea does not require you to be a scientist.
  4. You will want to make this tea outside so that it will basically be the same temperature as the air, but do keep it out of the sun while brewing.. Different microbes will flourish depending if it is cooler or hotter and you want them to match the microbes as your garden conditions.

 Microbes create a new generation of microbes every 7 minutes. With this tea, you will have 10,000 times the microbes of plain compost. Just one 5 gallon bucket of compost tea equals hundreds of pounds of compost. These microbes will break down the soil so that your veg plants can utilize the nutrients more efficiently, detour insects and works as a fungicide.

By now you probably are asking OK this sounds great, now how do we accomplish it.

 In General these Supplies you will need to make the brewer

To brew compost tea, you’ll need an air pump, some air tubing, a gang valve, and three bubblers.

• An aquarium pump large enough to run three bubblers or air stones

• Several feet of tubing

• A gang valve

• 2 to 3 bubblers

• A stick to stir the mixture

• Unsulfured molasses (preferably organic)

• Something to hold the compost, like an old pillowcase, tea towel, paint strainer, or a nylon stocking

• A 5 gal bucket

First, you need a 5 gallon bucket, unclorinated water (rain or pond water is the best, next would be well water, & if all you have is city water you need to aerate the water for a couple of hours to eliminate the chlorine, or use a chlorine eliminator from the pet shop ( the chlorine put in your water supply is designed to kill off bad bacteria but it also kills the microbes you need for your plants). You will need an air pump ( the same as you would use for an aquarium with 2 or 3 hoses and air stones.

Second, 2 to 4 cups of multi diversity compost (different manures (make sure the manure compost is Picloram free), different garden compost, & worm casings if you have). The better your compost the better the tea. You will also need a bag to hold your compost ( a paint strainer or old panty hose will work)

Third, you will need some unsulfured molasses ( approx 1 Tablespoon) or other sugars to feed the microbes ( do not use honey as it will kill off the microbes), some veg oil to add to the compost to keep the foaming to a minimum, but that is optional (do not use olive oil as it also will kill the microbes).

Take your 5 gallon bucket and fill it with 4 to 4 1/2 gallons of water. Take your compost and put it into the bag. Place one air bubbler in with the compost and the other one or two in the bottom of the bucket. Tie off the bag and place it into the water. Turn on the air pump and run. After about 6 to 8 hours take the compost out of the water and add your molasses ( this stimulates the microbes) to the tea and run the pump. Take that compost and use it on a plant or two. Continue brewing y our tea will be ready after 18 hours of brewing.  The optimum time for your best tea is to go for 24 to 36 hours.

You will know if the tea is good or bad by smelling it. If it smells earthy and clean it is good, if it stinks then it has gone anaerobic and is bad.

After the Brew is finished, Water this concentrate down to 1 part tea to 5 parts water for soil application. The Bacteria will loosen the soil,  improve the fertilizer utilization, and generally  stimulant for the plants. The fungi will inhibit disease growth and breaks down woody organics in the soil.

If you have a problem with you garden.

You can enhance your tea by adding 1/2 cup of Oat or wheat Bran which will help the fungi microbes grow, or 1 Oz of cold processed fish emulsion to raise both the bacteria and fungi counts. Adding corn meal to your brewing tea has been reported to help with blight spot on your tomatoes.

Use this tea at least 3 to 4 times a year. If you have compacted soil, very depleted soil or soil that has had a lot of chemicals added to it than use once a week for a couple of months.

 Clean your buckets and air stones throughly after each use with hydrogen peroxide as to eliminate a bio film build up. Also change out your bucket after 5 to 6 uses.

 Try this and I believe you will see a big difference. I have seen it in my own garden and heard remarkable stories on the internet.

I do not proclaim to be an expert at compost tea but I have used a basic tea on my gardens in the past and saw a great difference. Since then I have done a lot of research to enhance the abilities of Compost Tea.

Some information has been added to my own knowledge and experiences from

 Brewing Compost Tea

Tap your compost pile to make a potion that both fertilizes and prevents disease

by Elaine Ingham

Growing Blueberries Using Aerated Compost Tea: A Practical Alternative to Growing Without Chemicals

By Harold Stewart

Compost Tea 2010 Seminar by Bob Webster

We hope you found this post informative and we thank our gardener, David Freyman,  for submitting it.  Happy Gardening!!