What Is A Compost Tea?

A compost tea is a naturally brewed liquid fertilizer made from garden compost materials.   

The brewing process allows the transfer of microbial biomass of beneficial organisms, particulate organic matter, and soluble chemicals from the compost into a filtered liquid form that can then be applied via spraying to plant leaf surfaces and soils to provide a wealth of benefits.

Both conventional and organic growers are increasingly acknowledging the value of compost tea as an efficient biologically-based tool to manage plant fertility, pests, and disease.

Organic gardeners universally understand that good old regular garden compost is wonderful stuff. Some of them take it to a whole new level and turn some of that lovely compost into a compost tea. Some call it yogurt for the garden.

It is so good in:

  • increasing the nutritional worth and improve the taste of veggies,
  • helping plants fight off foliage diseases by producing natural antibiotics against plant pathogens,
  • helping plants develop chemicals that deter pests,
  • increasing access to available nutrients for the plants
  • breaking down various contaminants that can harm the plants,
  • out competing pathogenic bacteria with beneficial bacteria, fungi, protozoa and useful nematodes,
  • rebalancing nutrient cycles damaged by harmful insecticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers.

Types Of Compost Tea

There are two types of compost tea. Non-oxygenated and oxygenated.

Non-Oxygenated Compost Tea

For the non-oxygenated version, compost and water are the only active ingredients you need. You’ll also need a drum or large bucket and an old sock or stocking.

Here are the steps:

  • Fill the drum with water and let sit for about 24 hrs. You don’t need to let it sit if it is rain water.
  • Fill the old sock or stocking with high quality compost.
  • Suspend the sock in the drum of water for about a week
  • Stir the bucket well once or twice a day
  • If you want to use the final result in a sprayer, filter the finished product through cheese cloth or similar to remove any larger particulates.
  • Apply to your plants directly and to the soil around your plants.

As you can see, it really couldn’t be easier to make your own compost tea with this quick and dirty method.

Oxygenated Compost Tea

If you’d like to get more advanced after you’ve brewed a few batches of the simple version and are happy with the results, you need to delve into the process of making oxygenated compost tea – a bubbling brew of goodness that can contain all sort of interesting things. So this is where the recipes can get a lot more complex.

Some popular ingredients to include in oxygenated compost tea are worm castings, alfalfa, fish emulsion, powdered seaweed, corn meal, green sand, nettles, comfry, rock dust and much much more.

Just a note of caution, compost tea that includes any manure shouldn’t be utilized as a foliar spray on any leaves you are going to eat.

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