Backyard Farming Forum

Compost Tea
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Author:  abdul [ Fri Mar 11, 2011 9:22 am ]
Post subject:  Compost Tea

So I wanted to share something that I found very useful, and which I colloquially refer to as steroids for plants, and believe you me it is exactly what it sounds like, I'm speaking of course, about compost tea.

I don't have a whole load of experience using it, but what I have used of it has yielded astounding results. My aunt who stumbled onto the idea online and made me make her a compost tea brewer has been using it regularly for four months now, once a month she says and she is very happy with it, has been spraying all the neighbors lawns with it even!

Anyhow, a large amount of research yielded some knowledge about this. Basically compost contains a host of beneficial bacteria and microorganisms. By brewing tea with it, the numbers of these bacteria and fungi are increased manifold, in the order of going from thousands to billions. These bacteria and fungi form a protective biofilm over the plants. Since the plants don't spend any energy fighting disease or insects it puts all its energy into growth. Its also good for soil as it the bacteria and fungi help process the organic matter and give it structure.

Compost tea can be made heavy on either bacteria or fungi depending upon your needs. A general rule of thumb is that trees like fungi based teas while vegetables like bacteria heavy brews. There are now even companies that will make you 'designer' compost teas, by identifying the issue facing your crops they create a tea that has the specific natural bacteria that combats the issue.

Making compost tea is as simple as putting some compost in a pail of water and letting it sit for a few days, however this will be nowhere near the best possible product. Even if you just soak some compost in a pail of water for a few hours and spray it onto your crops you will see a positive effect, this brew is called 'compost leachate'. Compost tea on the other hand is created by 'brewing' the concoction and creating an environment that allows the microorganisms to flourish and propagate.

There are many tea recipes available on the internet. A simple one is a few cups of compost, some seaweed extract, pure molasses or another natural source of sugar, fish emulsion and an aquarium air pump with air stones. Put the compost in a netting or a cloth bag with holes in it, this saves having to filter it out later, add all ingredients to water in a 5 gallon container, run air stones and allow to run for 24 hours. According to a reliable person I saw on youtube the microorganism population peaks between 24 and 36 hours so its best to use then. You can do it without the bubbler as well, but when you do use it firstly its then called actively aerated compost tea and secondly it is a lot more potent and safe, as not only does the aeration provide a better environment for the microorganisms but it also prevents the spread of anaerobic pathogens.

Also use it as soon as it is out of the bubbler, the microorganism count will be significantly lower within an hour or two. Letting it brew for too long will also reduce quality as the microorganisms will run out of their food source, which is the sugar we added. Worm compost can also be used and is said to give better results, I have yet to try this. Another interesting notion is to mix the compost you use to seed the bacteria colony, for example a cup of compost, a cup of your garden soil, a cup of worm compost and a cup of forest soil so that you get a wide spectrum of microorganisms in your tea. Needless to say the quality of the compost you start with will determine the quality of your tea

Spray it onto your plant leaves and soak it into your soil, and it very much is all organic plant steroids :crazy:

As I am penning this at 3 a.m. I realize I may have missed a point or two, perhaps I've been vague or pedantic. To counter this I am posting three videos, one of my compost tea brewing and the tea brewing so you can see how it was done at home, another is the first video of a playlist on youtube of a talk Bob Webster is giving on a weekend at a nursery, I went through a whole LOAD of videos about compost tea on youtube and the internet in general but this one, well not one video but the whole talk which sprawls over a number of videos, is the most informative and educative one and the third is a link to a video on the Ted website in which the lady talks about designer compost teas.

I highly recommend you watch the videos, at least the Bob Webster and one, they're quite good and will fill in any gaps I may have left. Bob has three of these annual talks up, I'm linking the one I saw but I've been meaning to sit down and watch the older ones, its that good a talk.

Please share your experiences with compost tea, and even if you don't share do correct me if I'm :crazy:

I could not find the talk the lady gave about designer teas, I apologize. I do assure you that the video exists, perhaps someone else can locate it?

Author:  earthbound [ Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Compost Tea

Wow.... Nice write up Abdul... :thunbs:

I've watched Bobs videos before, there's also a nice short video about compost tea by a guy who grows world record vegetables.. Ahh, found it... check this out..

Actually I don't think that's the same one I was thinking about.. In the one I remember, he explains that it's all down to his compost tea... Looks like the same bloke though.

Author:  dufflight [ Thu Mar 17, 2011 11:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Compost Tea

earthbound wrote:
In the one I remember, he explains that it's all down to his compost tea... Looks like the same bloke though.

Good tea and 20hr days in Alaska helps. :mrgreen:

Author:  abdul [ Mon Mar 21, 2011 7:48 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Compost Tea

Yea I saw that Alaskan dudes video too, obviously his 20 hour sun days help the vegetables, and the compost tea he sells, even though it is snake oil, probably works quite well. Its silly to pay top dollar for something you can, and frankly should make at home. The magic powder he adds is probably just rockdust that adds trace minerals I guess. I haven't seen that addition in any other videos or sources online though, and niether Bob, nor that lady who is the guru nor anyone else has anything like that, though Bob does use a catalyst, which is something that can be improvised.

I've made another batch, the video is uploading I'll post it as soon as it is done.

Author:  dufflight [ Mon Mar 21, 2011 7:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Compost Tea

Compost teas are great for the garden. With the air going into the AP system I have a couple of tubs with air stones that go all the time.

Author:  abdul [ Mon Mar 21, 2011 8:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Compost Tea

The benifits of AP Duff are neverending ;)

ANyhew here is a video chroinicleing my latest batch of compost tea, the dregs of this are left and had garlic and chili powder added to it with the air stones still going. Gave a bottlefull to my uncle today, will apply it on my plants in a day or two. Also got a big batch of saweed I'm going to start brewing too.

Duff have you used compost tea in your AP system?

Author:  dufflight [ Mon Mar 21, 2011 7:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Compost Tea

Ap makes its own compost tea. The o2 allows for the bacteria to break down with the help of worms.

Author:  abdul [ Tue Mar 22, 2011 6:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Compost Tea

Yea I'm sure it does make its own but can I add the batch I make in that video up there to my AP without killing it?

Author:  Burnsy [ Tue Mar 22, 2011 12:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Compost Tea

I have a 100 odd litre bin that I keep next to my raised beds that is full of water. It has a sheave of straw in it and I add any weeds I pull out into it. No air or anything. It stinks good and I just bucket some of the liquid out onto the garden every few days then top it up again with water. The garden seems to love it. I also add worm tea to it when I have to much.

Author:  dufflight [ Sun Apr 03, 2011 1:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Compost Tea

Wonder if using DWC tub to make tea and grow plants at the same time. As the compost brews the plants take it up. You just have to add a little sugar and pee every now and then.

Author:  bushy [ Sun Dec 11, 2011 1:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Compost Tea

Thought this thread was worth bumping........... :learn:

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