How to Brew and Use Compost Tea
No more excuses, it's time to give compost tea a try! Contrary to popular belief, compost tea is much more than just dirt steeped in water. It's complete garden nutrition! Teeming with beneficial soil microbes and plant essential nutrients, compost tea effectively feeds hungry roots while simultaneously boosting soil quality.
Lush growth, bountiful blooms, and absolutely delicious produce can be achieved with a compost tea regimen. Plus, since compost tea is derived from natural compost, you'll rest easy knowing that synthetic or potentially toxic fertilizers are not invading your prized garden. If you agree that it's time, stick tight and learn the basics of how to use compost tea!
What Kind of Compost Should You Use?
To have a tea worthy of feeding your garden with, you must start with a quality compost. Now, for those of you who maintain a home composter, you're already halfway there! Homemade composts composed of various leaves, yard trimmings, and kitchen scraps often contain a bounty of beneficial microbes and nutrients. These composts are perfect for brewing into compost tea!
Okay, that's great, but what if homemade compost is unavailable? Not to worry, there are plenty of compost producers out there that create some really exquisite blends! Personally, I've had great success with the premium composts produced by CompTea.
How to Brew Compost Tea
With a quality compost secured, break out a five-gallon bucket and start the brewing process! Here are the two most common techniques for creating homemade compost tea:
- The Passive Brew—The simplest of the brewing techniques, a passive brew is basically allowing a portion of compost to steep in water for 24 hours. For maximum effectiveness, allow five gallons of tap water to sit out overnight. This step allows for any microbe-harming chlorine to dissipate. Once the water has sat, add one pound of compost and steep. Stir several times throughout steeping, and within a day's time, you'll have compost tea ready for use!
- The Active Brew—Also known as the aerated brew, the active brewing process is one step up from the passive brew. While the preparation, compost weight, and steeping time remains the same, the brew differs in the sense that an air pump is allowed to provide constant oxygenation to the tea during steeping. It is thought that this extra oxygenation boosts microbial populations beyond that of a passive brew. A small aquarium air pump and diffuser is an inexpensive and effective way to achieve an active brew.
How to Use Compost Tea
After the short steeping period, your compost tea is now ready to use. So, just exactly how do you apply compost tea? Well, as with the brewing process, applying compost tea can also be done in a couple different ways:
- Soil Drench—The easiest way to utilize the powers of your compost tea is the soil drench. Basically, you'll water your plants as normal with the unfiltered tea. As you water, the tea and bits of compost inoculate garden soils with diverse microbial populations and plant available nutrients. Garden plants immediately begin consuming available nutrients, while the soil microbes increase nutrient cycling for slow-release feeding. Since compost teas offer gentle nutrition that will never cause root burn, they can be fed at full strength at a frequency up to every other watering.
- Foliage Spray—While you typically won't need to utilize this technique as often as the soil drench, foliar feeding garden plants with compost tea is also very beneficial. Since plants are generally able to absorb nutrients through their leaves much quicker than through their roots, compost tea can offer a quick pick me up. With available micro-nutrients and trace minerals, a filtered compost tea will help plants fight off deficiencies and remain insanely lush! To foliar feed with compost tea, strain the tea of large particles, dilute with one part water, and add to a spray bottle or sprayer. For best results, thoroughly mist foliage (tops and undersides) during the cooler hours of the morning or evening.