Compost tea is a drink made by pouring boiling water on to nourishing ingredients, enriched herbs for the garden plants to grow faster and healthier. Interestingly, compost beer could have been a better-suited name for the drink as the process of making it is more like fermentation. Compost tea makes it easier for the plants to absorb all the good bacteria, protozoa, and fungi by concentrating them into liquid form.
The Benefits of Tea for Plants
Though there aren’t many studies out there done on compost tea and it’s benefits, still the trust of hundreds of gardeners on it is immense due to their first-hand experience of its profound effects on the health and growth of the plants. One of the significant observations of the people using compost tea is the nourishment of the soil, which is a bit obvious as it is made using the compost. It also increases the population of beneficial microorganisms, which helps in defending the plants from other harmful organisms.
Making the Tea
While making the compost tea, you should be mindful of the fact that it shouldn’t take more than 36 hours to get it done, any more time can risk the collection of some harmful bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli in the drink. These bacteria can suck up all the oxygen, leaving the tea to be exposed to the viruses, bacteria, molds, and fungi. To avoid this, some people have started to replace regular compost tea with Aerated compost tea, which is usual compost tea with a lot more added oxygen in it.
Other than regular compost tea made by using the compost, there are other different compost tea made for specific problems of the plants. You can soak nutritious plants in the water, in place of the compost to get those nutrients out of the plants. Plants like nettle and comfrey are used to extract vital nutrients like potassium and phosphorus for better health of the soil. Manure is another alternative which can be used, but it can make the tea very stinky, so not many people use it for their home garden. Anyone in their home can make compost tea.
You will need a bucket full of rainwater or simple tap water sitting for a day. 2 cups of compost will be enough for a 5 or 6-gallon bucket water. To feed the bacteria and fungi, half cup of bacteria and fungi food source is a must to add in the mix. For bacteria, you can use molasses without sulfur as the bacteria need simple proteins and sugars. But fungi need complex sugar which includes seaweed, humic acid, and fish hydrolysate. Now, dump the compost and bacteria food into the water using a bag to separate the solids from the tea. Leave the tea untouched for about a day, and it will be ready. You can apply the tea directly by using a sprayer, but one-off use of the tea won’t help much. You have to use it twice a week for the best results.