You may have heard of compost tea but not quite made the connection that it’s actually a natural fertilizer for plants and not humans. It turns natural composted organics into a liquid that can be poured on your plants. Compost tea is an organic plant supplement that provides nutrition to plants with a safer product than store-bought fertilizer. It’s especially helpful if you grow your own fruits, berries, vegetables or other edibles where you want to ensure the safety of the products you use on your food.
Many gardeners attest to compost tea making their vegetables and plants of better quality. In the past, our great-grandparents used this method to make fertilizer for the garden, before store-bought chemical fertilizers could be purchased. While it may seem like compost tea may be trending at the moment, it should quickly move from fad status as it really works.
This compost tea-making method may just increase in popularity, as people become more concerned about the chemicals they put in their gardens.
Making your own compost tea recipe is both simple and fun. It’s a natural way of returning organic compounds to the ground, without having to dispose of them in your city’s garbage collection. It’s definitely eco-friendly and a great way to help save the planet for future generations.
Compost tea can also be used from spring to summer. It’s also a great way to save money on fertilizer and have extra dollars to invest in seedlings and plants.
What Is Compost Tea Used for?
Compost tea is mainly used as a fertilizer for the garden or container plants or greenhouse plants. It contains many minerals and nutrients that will help to grow fuller greener leaves on plants, and bigger and brighter floral booms. It will also increase the size and yield of vegetables.
Is Compost Tea the Same as Black Liquid Gold?
Yes, they’re both the same thing. There may even be regional differences in the name, but it’s been made with fine compost and water, it’s basically compost tea.
What Exactly is Compost Tea Brewing?
Compost tea brewing is made from organic waste that is steeped in water. This extracts the nutrients that your plants desire. The tea is then filtered to remove the organic debris so you can simply use the resulting liquid as fertilizer in your garden or in planters, pots, containers, or your greenhouse.
Compost tea is made from your fresh, well-finished compost pile. It’s not recommended that you use solid items. For this reason, many people have differing age levels of compost. The compost you use should already be broken down into minute particles. It takes time for organic materials to decompose over time. The resulting appearance should also be very dark brown and the texture of crumbly cornmeal. The smell should have gotten past that decayed stage and smell a lot like rich fresh soil in a forest.
You can also check the bottom of your compost bin, as that will be the first location where the compost will begin decomposing and be fresh.
Benefits of Using Compost Tea
There are many benefits to using compost tea in your garden.
- It can increase your plants’ growth.
- Compost tea will also provide nutrients to your garden plants and the soil they’re growing in. The compost tea is full of minerals and nutrients that your plants need.
- These are the types of nutrients that are in a format that can be easily absorbed by the plants and their soil.
- You can use the compost tea in different ways. It can be poured directly on the soil, or you can spray it onto their foliage.
- This places beneficial microbes and organisms onto the plants which will thwart the harmful production of pathogens.
- The growth of beneficial soil will result in stronger plants.
- Your plants will suffer fewer instances of pests, wilting, blight, mould, or fungus, thus suppressing any disease risks.
- It degrades the toxicity risks of adding other chemicals by helping your soil get rid of any poisons that can kill beneficial insects, plants, or harm soil, wildlife, or humans.
- It’ll be safer to consume fruits, berries, and vegetables from your garden when you’ve been using a safe fertilizer alternative such as compost tea.
- It promotes natural plant growth hormones.
- It adjusts the nitrogen to a more natural balance for your plants.
- Compost tea naturally replaces chemical-based fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides.
- It’s safe for a plant’s leaves or roots, and won’t burn them like traditional fertilizers can.
- It’s low-cost—actually FREE! and will save you money.
- You’ll feel good about using eco-friendly products in your garden that won’t harm the planet.
- You’ll gain more knowledge about how to grow a successful garden.
- It’s much better than manure tea which lacks the nutrition needed for plants and has more harmful pathogens that can transfer to animals or humans.
How to Make Compost Tea at Home?
There are complicated methods of making compost tea with a pump, and then there are simpler methods. It seems counter-productive to use electricity to make compost tea when one of its purposes is to be eco-friendly to the environment. With the following compost tea recipe, it’s simple and easy to make. There are few differences when making it through a more natural method, though using a pump may encourage the growth of more beneficial organisms.
To make compost tea you’ll need at least a shovelful for each five gallon bucket of compost tea you wish to make. It only takes a few supplies and your garden pile of compost to make compost tea at home.
Ensure that you use only well-aged compost, as unfinished compost can contain harmful pathogens that may not only lack the nutrition for your plants but could also harm them too.
For greater success, use barrel or well water. But if you’re stuck with tap water, pour it into a bucket and let it sit for a few hours so the chlorine can break down. Otherwise, the chlorine can kill the beneficial bacteria in your compost tea. Also, if you have a water filter, use water from that.
Follow the instructions and soon you’ll have enough compost tea to take care of your garden for the weeks ahead.
Ingredients List to Make Compost Tea
Collect together the following ingredients to make your compost tea.
- 1 shovelful of quality finished compost.
- 1 – five gallon bucket of water.
- 1 – five gallon bucket, shovel, long stick or wooden spoon, cheesecloth, and string.
- Watering can or bottle with spray nozzle.
Simple Method to Make Compost Tea
Everyone can make compost tea. Follow these steps to get a bucketful to help your garden. You’ll want to do these steps outdoors on the grass where a bit of water won’t ruin any flooring.
- Fill a bucket about 1/3 full with your fine high-quality compost.
- Take your second bucket of declorinated water and fill up the first bucket to the top. Note: If you have well water or rain barrel water then use this unclorinated water first.
- Mix thoroughly.
- Let the mixture steep or aerate for about three to four days.
- Remember to go back and stir it about once a day.
- Tie the cheesecloth around your empty bucket and secure with string.
- When this length of time is up, pour the mixture through cheesecloth into another bucket.
- Pour the remaining solids back into your compost bin.
- You’ll now have a dark brown tea.
- Dilute this remaining tea with water.
- Use a 10:1 ratio of water to tea.
How Long Do You Aerate Compost Tea?
Aeration is an essential step to making your compost tea. This is because it aids in the formation of beneficial bacteria to help the fermentation process. It takes minimal effort to make the tea, beyond ensuring that you’re using mature compost and using a shovel to get it into the bucket.
Generally, three to four days is the required length of time. Too soon, and your tea will be too weak. If you leave it too late, the water will evaporate and you’ll have to start over. Remember to stir the tea once every 24 hours.
If you’re ever uncertain, take a sniff of your tea every day. If it begins to have a yeasty smell, this is the time to stop the brewing, filter it, and apply it to your plants.
Some garden experts recommend adding a bit of molasses to the aeration process, which can increase the number of beneficial organisms.
How Do You Use Compost Tea in the Garden?
Once your compost tea has been made and diluted with water, you can begin using it immediately in your garden. It’s best to use fresh, so that your plants will be able to optimally absorb it, and the soil surrounding it will better absorb it.
It’s best to use your compost tea early in the morning, particularly if it’s a hot climate or summertime, to decrease the likelihood of it evaporating.
You can simply pour the tea directly onto hardy shrubs, at the base of tree trunks, or on established vegetable plants for a root drench. Be certain to pour the tea directly on the ground near the base or root system of each plant. This allows the tea to seep down into the root system. This process will not be affected if it happens to rain later that day. If it rains, you may need to do a reapplication the next day.
If you have very young potted plants, or delicate plants, you may wish to pour some of the tea into a small watering can and dilute it even further. Use well water or water from your water collection barrels. Dilute it until it has the appearance of a very weak looking tea.
You can also pour some into a bottle with a spray nozzle, and spray it directly onto the foliage and leaves of plants. If you find it drips off too easily, simply pour in a small amount of vegetable oil to help the compost tea to adhere to the leaves.
Avoid using powered pressure sprayers as these can not only be harmful to the beneficial organisms in the tea, but can also cause physical damage to the plants.
How Often Should I Treat My Garden with Compost Tea?
Compost tea can be applied about once every two weeks, after your plants and transplants are well-established. Basically, you’ll want your plants to have been in the ground for about one week to ten days, to give them a chance to recover from the shock from transplanting.
Remember to treat your garden early in the morning, or later in the day.
Keep up your treatments from spring until about mid-July, then stop. Remember that you don’t want your plants to be over-fertilized either. You want your plants to expend their energy in creating thick foliage.
Keep track of your applications and do no more than 4—6 if you live in a rainy climate. This is enough to give your plants the boost they need in the garden.
Can I Store Compost Tea?
Yes, as long as you use it within the season. Be sure to place a tight lid onto your 5 gallon bucket, then store it away in a cool and dry spot, such as the garage or garden shed. Add a label so you know when you initially made it.
Why Compost Tea is the Best Fertilizer for Your Garden
There are innumerable benefits to using a natural compost tea for your garden. For one, it’s sourced exactly from ingredients you know, rather than questionable chemical ingredients that are found in store-brand fertilizer products. It’s also safe for your plants, and for you to use around your children, pets, and wildlife. You can treat your garden with compost tea, and immediately enjoy your garden afterwards by relaxing on lawn chairs, having a BBQ, or playing games in the backyard.
Try making this easy and best compost tea recipe and soon your garden will be lush and thriving.