Gardening comes with so many trends that come and go, but do you know the current one and how it’s used – what is compost tea used for?
Compost tea is currently a hot trending topic in the gardening world with many people wanting to find out the truth beyond the fad status.
This tea has been described as the magic that makes plants grow faster, ripen faster, and taste better. Well, some of these claims may be taken true and give the plant real benefits; others ought to be taken with a grain of salt. Let’s earn together!
What Is Compost Tea?
Compost tea is an infusion just like normal tea that requires heating water to a boiling point and pouring it over herbs to create a healthy drink.
Once the water boils and mixes with the herbs it is left to go through a fermenting process. Besides it being a tea, it also goes through a fermentation process making it more of a beer or fermented tea. The brewing or fermenting process concentrates the bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and nematodes into an organic compost tea that is easily absorbed by plants.
How Long Does It Take To Brew The Tea?
It takes about 24-36 hours to make compost tea. If you store it any longer than that, your concoction is in danger of collecting some unfriendly bacteria like salmonella and E. coli.
The microbes created will use up all the oxygen provided creating anaerobic conditions. This condition increases the likelihood of viruses, mold, and bacteria thriving.
What Is The Difference Between Compost Tea And Aerated Compost tea?
Compost tea is simply throwing your ingredients into a bucket of water, letting it sit, and voila you have the tea ready in several hours. for the best.
The second tea known as aerated or aerobic compost tea needs oxygen and agitation. The regular compost tea is mixed with more oxygen than in the compost tea. It requires a little more work, with a lot less smell. The theory behind the work is if microbes use up oxygen quickly, which creates anaerobic conditions; then aerating the compost produces a higher number of good organisms faster and removes the bad ones.
This process is done using an aerating pump the same as those used in fish tanks to create a bubbling action in the solution.
How Do You Apply The Compost Tea?
Now that your tea is ready – congratulations! But before you feed your plants, you will need to first dilute your concentrated tea.
Dilute the tea at least at a ratio of 1:4 or 4 cups:1 gallon; most people also use 1:10.
Once diluted, apply your tea directly to the soil or use it as a foliar spray. Foliar feeding is the best method as it boosts the health of plants that are weak or sick. You will need more than one application to see the results. Apply at least biweekly for the best results.
More than one application is necessary to see real results, and most people recommend it at least bi-weekly.
What Are The Benefits Of Using Compost Tea?
Though the research has not been able to give a full report on this, the gardeners who use it swear by it from personal experiences.
Compost tea used together with other good gardening habits promotes healthy plants. There is no magic to using compost tea, you must also make sure the rest of the gardening tips are followed keenly.
Some of the benefits you will experience from this tea include:
- Improving your soil’s nutrients. This is one of the popular benefits that most gardeners have reported. Because this tea provides the same nutrients as the compost manure, it gives the soil more benefits.
- It Increases the population of nematodes and mycorrhizal fungi. These two crucial nutrients both help defend plants against a range of microorganisms.
- Compost tea helps plants grow faster, produce more yields, and increase their overall health. The tea also decreases the number of pests and diseases in the soil.
Other Types Of Compost Tea
- Manure Tea This is the most commonly used by farmers. It is a mixture of various well-aged manure soaked in water. It can be very stinky so before starting be ready for a foul smell around your home for several days. However, the benefits are well worth the smell.
- Plant Tea. Plant tea is made by soaking a plant that has nutritious properties to extract those nutrients. The most common plants uses are nettle and comfrey that have valuable nutrients like potassium and phosphorous.
- Commercial Microbial Tea. This tea is sold as an instant mix that only requires you to add water and voila you have your tea. It specifically fights plant issues and is free from bad bacteria.
- Compost Leachate. There is a fine line between the regular compost tea and the composting leachate. Both of these teas are required to sit in water for some hours. However, leachate is produced when water leaches through your compost bin or worm compost. Leachate is not fermented but is still considered a valuable addition to the soil.
How To Make Compost Tea
Basic Compost Tea Recipe
- 5-gallon bucket
- Non-chlorinated water – rainwater, or tap water that has sat for over 24 hours
- 1-2 cups of inoculant – compost or worm castings
- ½ or a ¼ cup of food source for fungi or bacteria
Bacteria need proteins and sugars to thrive and one of the best sources for this is unsulphured molasses.
Fungi require more complex sugars with common sources that include fish hydrolysate, seaweed/kelp ad humic acid.
Most gardeners make a solution from both fungi food and molasses to create a good balance of nourishment for both bacteria and fungi. It comes down to the ingredients you readily have available.
Easy Compost Tea Recipe
If you want to avoid buying chemical products like humic acid, you can try this recipe.
- I tablespoon liquid fish fertilizer
- 1 tablespoon unsulfured blackstrap molasses
- 5-gallon non-chlorinated tap water
- 2 cups fully ready organic compost – ready organic smells nice
- 1 tablespoon liquid kelp fertilizer – or you can soak kelp in water
Compost tea is an excellent way to revive the soil when it needs more nutrients to establish beneficial aerobic microbes on the leaves of the plants.
Now that you know its benefits and ingredients to make, you can go ahead and try it and let us know in the comments if you noticed any changes to your crops.
We look forward to hearing from you!