If you are a gardener you have probably heard of something called compost tea. What you most certainly do know is that your crop, your harvest, will only be as healthy as the soil in which it is grown.
Without attention to the soil, your produce will lack vitality and even nutrients.
This is where compost comes into play. Adding organic matter back into your soil aids in the regeneration of healthy nutrients which in turn, helps your crops thrive.
An even better alternative to regular compost is compost tea. This liquid fertilizer infusion not only feeds plant but also keeps plant disease at bay.
If you have been using regular compost in your garden, it is time to take it to the next level. Compost tea is superior to regular compost in that it does everything that regular compost does with the addition of oxygen.
I have been using compost tea in my garden for years and would not consider a season without it.
When my friends and neighbors marvel at my garden I am happy to share that my secret is in this simple tea!
Benefits Of Compost Tea
Here are just some of the great things that will happen when you use compost tea in your garden:
- Stronger plant growth – Your veggies will be hardier and tastier, your flower blossoms will be bigger and leaves will be greener.
- Stronger root systems – With the addition of compost tea, roots will grow robustly and begin to pull nutrients from deeper down.
- Stronger immune system – Plants, like humans, have an immune system of sorts. Using compost tea strengthens the immune system of plants giving it the ability to keep disease at bay.
- Accessible nutrients – The nutrients in compost tea are readily available and easily absorbed.
- All natural fertilizer – You can achieve a beautiful and healthy garden with the addition of compost tea that will not harm insects, wildlife or native plants.
- Prevent shock transplant – When you use compost tea during transplanting, you can help your plants acclimate quickly to the soil and keep them from going into transplant shock.
How Compost Tea Works
Compost tea works in much the same manner as probiotics work for us. The soil, like our gut, is full of both healthy and unhealthy microorganisms.
When there is an unbalance of these organisms, it is harder for the plant to defend itself against disease that impacts the health and growth of the plant.
Compost tea, like probiotics, boosts the ratio of good to bad microbes. These well-oxygenated microbes add oxygen into the soil which means the healthy microbes become super microbes!
Plants require a steady supply of healthy microbes to grow and thrive- just as humans require a steady supply of fermented foods.
Regular pesticides are full of chemicals that hamper growth and health in the same way that eating refined and junk food causes an imbalance in our gut bacteria.
There is not a better thing that you can do for your plants than replace chemical fertilizers with compost tea.
Even if you are using organic fertilizers, compost tea adds that extra boost that will really make your garden pop.
How To Make Compost Tea
Making this incredibly rich and nutritious plant elixir is really quite simple.
- High-quality compost
- Sachet or brew bag to put the compost into
- Compost catalyst (a commercial mixture that encourages the micro-organisms in the compost to multiply) Note: You can also use a cup of molasses.
How To Make It:
- Fill your bucket almost to the top with water – if it is tap water allow it to set for a day so that the chlorine can be released. If you skip this step, the chlorine will kill all of the beneficial micro-organisms.
- Place your pump into the water
- Add the catalyst to the compost.
- Put your compost into a sachet or mesh bag and put this into the water.
- Turn the pump on and let it do its work. It will pump oxygen throughout the water. This will encourage the beneficial bacteria to start working.
- Allow the pump to work for a full 24 hours. The end result is a frothy elixir full of nutrients, bacteria, nematodes, and protozoans that will feed and protect your plants.
- Remove the sachet with the compost and spread the solid compost in your garden.
Using The Compost Tea:
It is best to use the compost tea as soon as you can after brewing. If you let the tea set for more than one day the organisms will use up the beneficial oxygen.
Here are two ways that you can use compost tea for a healthier and beautiful garden.
- Direct spray on leaves: When you spray leaves directly with compost tea it is absorbed quickly and distributed evenly throughout the plant in a more efficient way than soil drenchings. Applying compost tea directly to the leaves also reduces the chance that the plant will develop a disease such as powdery mildew. For best results, repeat spraying once per month during the growing season.
- Soil feeding: I pour ½ cup of compost tea in the hole of all of my transplants. This will give plants the boost they need to be healthy and get a great start. It also helps transplants fight off soil-borne diseases.
Note: No matter how you apply compost tea, it is best used in the morning or the evenings. This is when the plants can best absorb the nutrients in the tea.
Can You Buy Ready-Made Compost Tea?
If you are not in a position to make tea yourself, you are in luck. There are a number of home composting kits that make feeding your plants a breeze.
Ready-to-use compost tea extractors are perfect for busy folks who still want to give their garden the best love they can. Here are a few options:
Compost Tea Kit: 5 Gallon Get Brewing Special~ BubbleSnake, Brew Bag, Air Pump & Tubing: This kit is available on Amazon and gets good reviews. It includes a brew bag, bubblesnake, air pump, all hoses, and fittings.
Flo-n-Gro Compost Tea Brewing System: This system is good for those looking to make a smaller amount of tea. It comes with a 3-gallon tea brewer, air pump with hose, Eco 185 submersible pump, fountain kit and 2 air stones.
Purchase Already Made Compost Tea
If you are really short on time but still want all of the benefits of compost tea, you can purchase it already made. Although it is not quite as fresh as if you made it yourself, it still offers valuable nutrition for your plants.
Here are some options.
Super Compost Tea: This compost tea can be used on houseplants as well as outdoor plants. According to the manufacturers:
“This product was not simply steeped in compost for days or weeks even, it was brewed the entire duration of the composting process which is in excess of 8 months. It is concentrated and should be diluted in water as directed when watering your plants”
Bu’s Brew Biodynamic Compost Tea: This compost tea product comes with 4 biodegradable compost tea bags that each make 5 gallons of feed. This cost-efficient option is great for foliar feeding, soil drenching, a compost inoculant or to use on transplants.