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Guide to Compost Tea

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By Sami Grover, TreeHugger

When I posted a video on how to make compost extractions, and later on how to make compost tea it awakened my interest in this lesser-known subset of composting and organic gardening. I already knew that worm compost suppresses plant diseases, but could it be that making these magical potions from plain-old compost could enhance biological activity across your whole garden? It turns out there is an awful lot out there on the internet about compost teahow to make it, what to make it with, how to use it, and whether it is any good at all. I thought I’d offer a primer on some of the better materials I came across.

What Is Compost Tea?
The wikipedia entry on composting has a short but sweet overview of what compost tea is. Simply put, it’s a liquid fertilizer and disease suppressor that is made by soaking small amounts of biologically-active compost in water, often with other ingredients such as kelp or molasses to feed the microorganisms, and then aerated over a period of one to two days. The “tea” is then sprayed using a typical hand-held sprayer either directly onto plants, the soil, or it is applied as a soil-drench (root dip) for seedlings.

A Simple DIY Compost Tea Recipe
Elaine Ingham over at FineGardening.com has an easy-to-follow recipe for brewing compost tea. Using no more equipment than a bucket, some tubing, an aquarium pump and bubblers, and a strainer, she explains how soaking and bubbling a mix of compost, molasses and water over a 3-day period produces a biologically rich feed that spreads the benefits of a small amount of compost over your whole garden.

Compost Tea Alternative Ingredients
Meanwhile this video from Howard Garrett, aka the Dirt Doctor, also gives a simple walk-through of how to make compost tea, and explains how adding different ingredients can help skew the biological activity. For example, says Garrett, adding molasses boosts bacteriasomething that benefits grasses in particular. Meanwhile protein feeds like fish oil or liquid seaweed boost fungal activity, which is of more benefit to larger shrubs and trees.

Next: compost tea kits & how to use compost tea

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128 comments

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1:41PM PDT on Jul 5, 2012

Compost tea is probably a useful thing. But the matter is that it takes a lot of time to be prepared and nobody knows what kind of bacteria and funguses he grows. Together with useful bacteria there can live harmful fungi and other plant diseases in your compost. Instead of it you can take already done and guaranteed microorganisms which will work in the soil and on plants as fungicides and insecticides. Any harm, any lost time, any equipment. The whole you need is the biological preparation and water. To be sure visit the page www.altcompostea.x90x.net Believe me you’ve never seen something better.

9:17AM PDT on Sep 8, 2011

ok, long as I don't have to drink it

8:32PM PDT on Apr 18, 2011

THANKS 2 INFORM

2:33PM PDT on Apr 3, 2011

this is what i am talking about,we need to inform people of safe methods and to stay away from harmful chemicals.thanks and keep this up.

9:35AM PDT on Mar 30, 2011

Thanks, I needed this!!!!!!

5:48PM PDT on Mar 23, 2011

Sounded interesting, but a little worky for me.

3:20AM PDT on Mar 22, 2011

GRACIAS!

9:04PM PDT on Mar 21, 2011

tks, try

2:20PM PDT on Mar 18, 2011

Wow! There are just too many excellent articles on this site!! I am an avid tea drinker (3 cups green or white tea a day) and will now get on the tea composting bandwagon! Hearted! Many thanks!

2:02PM PDT on Mar 14, 2011

Interesting.

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Wouldn't it be best and easiest for us,to tell what in the world we COULD eat???

I've never heard of it.

Thanks for sharing.

Fascinating about sweat.

We are not anything more than a number in their eyes !

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