HOW TO MAKE COMPOST TEA
You may have heard of compost tea. It’s not a tea you drink – rather, an organic plant food you can make at home and use as the sole source of fertilizer throughout the life of your garden. Brewing compost tea is a millennia-old practice dating back as far as ancient Roman times. The goal of brewing a backyard compost tea solution is to extract beneficial microbes from your compost and multiply them in a 24- to 36-hour fermentation process. The solution will enhance soil biology and improve plant vigour.
Although it may seem like an intimidating project, creating a compost tea brewing station is simple and inexpensive. The Romans did it and so can you. Just follow these easy steps.
What you will need:
- Clean bucket (for a backyard project, five gallons will do)
- Aquarium air pump
- Aquarium air stone (for aeration, medium size)
- Length of clear hose (four to five feet, or enough to get air into the bottom of your bucket)
In the Bucket
- De-chlorinated water, or water that has been sitting out for at least 24 hours
- Old sock or length of nylon stocking (to act as a tea bag)
- Compost (aged and well-aerated)
- Fish emulsion or kelp powder
- Other nutrient builders such as alfalfa pellets, rock dust, worm castings or bat guano (optional)
How to Brew
- Choose a location suitable for brewing. You’ll need a level spot in the shade and preferably shielded from rain, with an electrical outlet so you can plug in your air pump. Fill your bucket with de-chlorinated water. Or, fill the bucket with tap water and let it sit for at least 24 hours.
- Attach one end of clear hose to the air pump; the other end to the air stone. Drop the air stone into the bucket filled with water. Plug in your air pump and turn it up to maximum aeration. You will see the water in the bucket begin to oxygenate.
- Fill your sock or length of nylon stocking with compost. Tie it off, then suspend or place it directly into the aerated water bucket. This is your compost tea bag.
- Add one tablespoon of molasses and one to two tablespoons of fish emulsion or kelp powder to your five-gallon bucket of water. Add more if you have a larger bucket. Add extra nutrient builders if you have them.
- Leave your solution to brew uncovered for 24 to 36 hours. The solution should develop a top of foam and smell earthy. Apply as a 50% solution with water to the entire garden. You can also use your compost tea as a foliar spray. You cannot over-apply. Enjoy!