We all need a little pick-me-up sometimes—and the same goes for your soil. Compost tea, applied as a foliar spray to plant leaves or watered directly into the soil, delivers an organic and supercharged boost to your crops. Just don't drink it! This sipper is for flora only: The microbes and bacteria present in finished compost—which this tea is, in liquified form—increase biological activity in your soil, help ward off plant disease, and help keep the need for pesticides at bay.
Whether you’re piling up your own compost or buying it from a reputable source, you can make your own compost tea. There are two methods of brewing: One produces an aerated variety; the other, nonaerated. While both versions encourage beneficial bacteria, we've found the aerated method to be much more effective at fostering those desirable aerobic bacteria and fungi. And as long as you're getting dirty, while not go whole hog? To that end, we stick to the aerated version in the tips below.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED TO MAKE AERATED COMPOST TEA
>> two five-gallon buckets or one 55-gallon rain barrel
>> finished compost
>> mesh sack (nylons or an old pillow case work well)
>> aquarium pump
>> aquarium hoses (enough for three hoses to reach the bottom of your brewing container)
>> organic nonsulfured molasses
AERATED COMPOST TEA RECIPES
• Here's a five-gallon-yield recipe from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
• And for the folks with a lot of ground to cover, here's a 55-gallon recipe, courtesy of This Old House.
• Most importantly, don't be intimidated! Making compost tea is almost as easy as brewing a cup of English Breakfast. The video below from Homestead Acres shows just how simple the process is: mix, stir, wait, apply.
PLEASE SPEAK UP!
For more composting help, visit the Composting 101; you can also learn how to make your own compost bin. And if you’ve got hints, recipes, or comments on the art of improved soil, by all means, post them below and keep the conversation going! Then troll for more things to plant, grow, cook, preserve, make, and craft in the HOMEGROWN 101 library.