Compost tea is often the best way to boost the growth rate and yields produced by your plants naturally.
All in all, not all the compost teas are equal.
They tend to differ in more ways than one.
Therefore, if you in search of the ultimate compost tea recipe or you need more clarification on the ingredients used to feed a specific type of microbe, search no more!
This article will guide you through the several individual compost tea recipes uniquely brew for each plant needs.
Different plants in the garden need different compost tea recipes.
However, you need to understand that these recipes don’t need to be complicated in order to effectively meet the plant’s needs.
In fact, compost teas should be cheap, easy and fun to make.
Actually, in most cases, the compost teas that work are the simplest ones since it’s easier to experiment with them.
More to that, when preparing a compost tea, there are two constant variables that you need to consider; the type of soil and the type of plant.
With that in mind, today we will cover the ultimate recipe for making compost tea for your plants.
Table of Contents
What is Compost Tea?
In case you are wondering what compost tea is; it is an organic living solution often used to fertilize the garden.
It features a concentrated liquid fertilizer that is organically formed by immersing biologically activated compost into the water.
The Compost tea is rich in nutrients and often helps to provide the beneficial bacteria to plants.
Whatever makes it different is the fact that it doesn’t contain the high salt and chemicals content present in the chemical fertilizers.
The compost tea works through the feeding magic in two ways; either by feeding the plants through the roots or the foliar zones (leaves).
Also, unlike the synthetic fertilizers that build up the salt and chemical levels that destroy the soil structure, the compost tea adds beneficial nutrients to the soil.
Compost tea can be applied to the foliar zones of the plants.
You can make compost tea from several diverse materials which may include; egg shells, tea, coffee, and plant trimmings among others.
Since there is always something about this compost tea that makes it all rave for gardeners who attest to higher yields of their foliage, vegetables, and flowers, read on and I will show you why you too should jump on the wagon too.
Why Should You Use Compost Tea?
⦁ Healthier Soil Structure
We constantly move from one location to the other in the hunt for a good soil structure.
However, if you involve microbes in the mix, they will do this for you from time to time.
For instance; fungal hyphae help gardeners to create soil aggregates while on the other hand bacteria helps in breaking down the organic matter while at the same time helping in the soil aeration.
⦁ Increase in the Cycling of Nutrients
In case you are wondering what is all this about microbes, then you need to know that it makes the ideal plant food.
Thinking about them literally, we would compare them to little fertilizer factories.
When there is a cycling of nutrients in the soil, they are available in a form that is easier for plants to uptake.
Therefore, whenever you add organic compost tea in the soil you are not feeding the plant directly but the microbes in turn work to convert the available nutrients to a form that can be readily absorbed by plants.
⦁ Lesser Consumption of Water
When there is the addition of microbes into the soil, there is an increased ability of the soil to retain water.
This is because the microbes correct the soil structures hence increasing the organic matter as well as the exchange capacity by presenting the living organisms in the soil.
This means that when you add compost tea to the soil, it can reduce the water usage of a plant by at least 40%. In some cases, this may entirely eliminate the need for irrigation in some gardens.
Who wouldn’t want such a hassle-free garden anyway?
⦁ Lesser Consumption of Compost and Fertilizers
This is definitely one thing that you will love about compost tea.
Since it’s in liquid form, instead of hauling organic matter all over, you can simply spray it on the target plants.
And since you have increased the population of the microbes in the compost tea through the brewing process, it will be much easier and cost effective to use the compost tea than organic matter on your plants.
Application of compost tea with a sprayer
More to that, the use of compost tea reduces the need for using fertilizers.
This is because normally fertilizers are compensation for the inability of the soil to fertilize plants.
Therefore, with compost tea, you don’t have to fertilize your garden every time.
The compost tea introduces a microbial food web in the soil hence there will be no need of using fertilizers for quite some time.
⦁ Higher Crop Yields
When you use compost tea on your garden, you improve the maturity and fertility of the soil automatically.
Hence, this automatically enhances the ability of the garden to have larger and more abundant crop yields.
⦁ Mitigates Pests and Diseases
The diseases causing organisms are merely microbes that attack your plants simply because there is nothing on the food chain to consume them.
Most of the commercial biocides are microbes that are found in the compost tea as well as the soil.
Therefore, instead of looking for ways to eliminate the diseases, the introduction of a microbial balance in the soil through the compost tea can do the trick.
Also, it can help to eliminate pests by the introduction of a biologically diverse soil composition.
The Ultimate Compost Tea Recipe
Compost tea is made through a process where the microbes and micro-organisms found in the healthy soil and compost are grown by aerating water in the organic microbe foods.
This helps to create optimal conditions for the aerobic microorganisms to grow while at the same time replicating them.
In other terms, this is what turns out to be called the AACT- Actively Aerated Compost Tea.
The microbes play a very vital role in creating the soil but this doesn’t just happen magically.
It’s science! Therefore, when you tend a compost pile, you simply concentrate this natural process.
But with compost tea, you can concentrate it even further.
The entire process where you brew the compost tea is an effective and easy way of increasing the biomass and diversity of the already existing beneficial microorganisms in the soil as well as foliar structures of the plant.
In that case, the soil microbes here are like your construction workers.
What they do is build the soil until it can get a life on its own.
This way, the soil will finally be able to stand on its own.
In that case, it will be able to mitigate any pests and diseases. At the same time, it will reduce the need to fertilize and irrigate the plants for the purpose of supporting growth.
Below I will give you a simple compost tea recipe for five gallons but the proportions can always be multiplied if you need larger batches.
- Fresh tap, rain or pond water free of chlorine
- A clean five-gallon bucket
- A cup of inoculant. Can be worm castings or aerobic compost
- ⦁ One compost stocking or tea bag
- ⦁ ¼ cup of food. Humic acid, un-sulfured molasses, kelp and fish hydrolase
- ⦁ An air pump
- A sprayer. Clean one that hasn’t been used for any chemical application before
The nylon stocking is the most popular stocking among most of the compost tea brewers. It is used for holding the inoculant.
All in all, most professionals claim that nylon is not the best material to use for this purpose.
They recommend the non-sticky compost bags for instance; the polyester mesh screen.
This is because such a material enhances fungal extraction. On average, the mesh should be at least 400 micrometers in order to allow effective flow of nematodes and fungi.
Also, for effective extraction of the compost tea, it’s best if you place your inoculant in the stocking rather than inserting it in water directly.
Agitation and Aeration
For you to achieve successful compost tea brewing, you need both proper aeration and agitation. Most of the compost tea brewers have bubblers or pumps that they use to provide good aeration.
However, this may not always provide the needed agitation in order to properly aerate the water while knocking off the organisms such as fungi from the organic matter as well in the solution.
To keep your tea sufficiently oxygenated, use an air pump.
All in all, others suggest that you can involve some variation of an aquarium pump that is connected to air stones.
This is the ideal way to aerate a batch of 5-gallon compost.
It’s necessary you understand that fine bubbles cannot aerate the water.
Oxygen gets in when the surface of water breaks. In that case, instead of bubbling the compost tea lightly, you should aim at a more vigorous rolling boil.
For you to get the ideal results, you need to play around with diverse pumps or generative blowers.
You may consider; a pressure of 3.91psi, high volume air of 17 gallons/minute.
All in all, you should refrain from using an air compressor since it will damage the microorganisms.
The tea needs to be aerated constantly, therefore you should ensure there is a constant supply of power for the pump.
The Process of Making Compost Tea
Below is the process of making the compost tea;
⦁ To increase the inoculant and fungal power of your compost tea, you need to pre-treat it.
What you need to do is take some fish hydrolase or Humic acid then add it to your compost inoculant.
⦁ Place the solution in a tray then mix it all up well then leave it there to sit for precisely 2 or 3 days.
This way, fresh microorganisms are likely to grow in the tea.
All in all, not most compost tea recipes need you to pre-treat your compost, therefore, this can be an optimal step. But, you need to consider it as a way to increase the effectiveness of your compost tea brewing.
⦁ Take a bucket then add unchlorinated water with an ideal temperature of 55 to 80oF.
In case you are using tap water, you should leave it for about 24 hours uncovered to let any present chlorine to off-gas.
Add Humic acid in the water to counter chloramine.
⦁ Place some air stones at the bottom of the bucket then connect an air pump so that the solution can start to bubble.
Check constantly to ensure that the agitation and oxygen supply is enough through the liquid. You can always get a more powerful pump if the one you have is not effective enough.
⦁ Place your inoculant in the mesh bag or stocking, tie the ends and immerse it in water. Next step, you should add the food.
⦁ Leave the solution to bubble for about 24 hours and not more than that.
After about 36 hours if the tea received too much food or insufficient oxygen, there is a likelihood that the anaerobic organisms will overcome the beneficial aerobic organisms.
⦁ In case you notice a stinking smell, it is evident that the solution went anaerobic.
If this happens, dispose the solution carefully. Away from the garden and plants, then set up and start all over again.
It’s always necessary to do a soil biology test in the first few batches of your compost tea to reconfirm that what you got there is a microbe production.
⦁ If the mixture is ready, pour it through a strainer in order to remove the large debris. This ensures that there is no blockage in your sprayer
⦁ Afterward, clean the pump and bucket too then keep them ready for your next round of compost tea brewing process. When cleaning, use a non-toxic and biodegradable cleaner.
Application of the Compost Tea
Apply the tea within four hours after you turn off the bubbler. If you take any longer than that, the anaerobic organisms and oxygen will start to deplete.
Bring the compost tea to your garden within this time frame then apply to the damaged land or plants to increase their health.
The tea is best applied either on moist soil or after the rains.
The best time of the day is either in the chilly morning or after dusk since the microorganisms don’t like to bake in the scorching sun.
You can turn around the soil after applying the tea.
Use a digging fork to loosen the soil and allow the microorganisms to get their way easily to the contaminated soil. The recommended amount of the tea is a gallon of the compost tea per 1,000 square feet of the contaminated land.