How to Microbrew Compost Tea
Compost tea is an amazing way to distribute the beneficial microorganisms from compost into the garden. This article explains detailed information on what compost tea is and why it is so great for the garden. Brewing tea at home is cost effective, helping to stretch compost supplies as well as creating a premium product for little effort. With a few inexpensive items and simple steps, brewing compost tea at home can be fun and easily.
Brewing in small batches is a great way for beginners to start and learn from the process. Brewing more than one or two gallons at a time requires investing in a stronger air pump specifically designed for larger volumes of water as well as needing an additional filtration step. It is also important to note that the shelf life of compost tea is very short and needs to be utilized as soon as possible for maximum results. As the tea sits unused oxygen levels in the water decline as do available nutrients and microbial life. There is a very limited timeframe in which the tea can be brewed and used before it spoils.
Supplies needed for microbrewing compost tea are: a 1-2 gallon container, a fish tank air pump with hose, an air stone, good compost, seaweed extract and unsulfured black strap molasses. Pure room temperature water is also needed. Most municipalities chlorinate their drinking water so letting it sit out for 24 hours will allow the chlorine to evaporate. Other organic fertilizers may be added turning the brew into nutrient tea, but this will also alter the composition of the microbial life inside the tea as well, changing its function. Concentrated forms of compost tea are available for sale, and these can be used to seed and optimize microbial diversity inside home brewed teas. These additions however are unnecessary for the process of brewing compost tea.
To make compost tea, firstly combine all the ingredients together into a container. For each gallon of water add roughly 2 cups of compost, one ounce of seaweed extract, and two ounces of molasses mixing very thoroughly. A small amount of local garden soil could be added as well, to incorporate local microbial life. Attach the hose, airpump, and airstone together. The airstone should easily be placed on the bottom of the container, defusing the pumped air into tiny bubbles. This process will oxidize the water, ensuring that only beneficial aerobic bacterial life will proliferate in the tea. The more oxygen in the water the happier the plant will be as oxygen is absorbed by the plants roots and is vital for growth.
Allow the tea to bubble and brew for 24-48 hours, being sure to agitate the sediment at the bottom with a spoon or stick, mixing the liquid several times through the process. The molasses has some minerals and will serve as carbohydrates for the microorganisms. The seaweed will provide an ample source of micronutrients and minerals. As time goes by, the microbes living in the tea will reproduce exponentially as long as there is a food source. Should the sugars inside the tea deplete, so would the living microbial biome, reducing the tea’s benefits drastically. Understanding that time is a key component to successful brewing is critical. Should at any point the tea start to smell sour or foul, it has spoiled and needs to be recycled into compost, but not used on live plants.
Once the brewing time is complete, the tea is ready to be used to nourish the soil, and benefit any plant. Apply the tea immediately and do not store it to be used later. Be aware that the tea will have sediment in the bottom of the container. This can be filtered out using another container and some cloth, but it is not necessary for soil drenches as the compost sediment can be added directly into the garden. If filtered well however, the tea can be applied through a sprayer as a foliar feed or spray fertilizer application. Using the tea with other fertilizers will help the nutrients absorb into the soil and feed the plants, increasing soil life.
Compost tea is full of the stuff soil and plants love and is liquid gold for any garden. Being a great way to extend the usefulness of compost and adding to the diversity and mass of microbial life, compost tea is a great tool for a gardener to utilize, maximizing soil conditions to create healthy and abundant plants.