EARTHWISE
Compost Tea Recipe

 

We can heal the abuse to our environment from toxic contamination and pollution that generations of harmful chemical applications have created.

Using compost tea is one of the safest, most effective and most direct routes to get away from and undo the negative impact from using chemical herbicides, pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, from gardeners to growers, schools to forests, stream banks to sports fields.

Compost tea helps restore natural health and balance to our soil. It helps break down soil pollution and provide nutrients to our plants. Its success is being felt worldwide in restoring depleted and deficient soils.
EarthWise gardening means adopting good gardening practices so plants can flourish naturally, without reliance on chemical pesticides. The use of chemical products in our gardens over the years has destroyed most of the benficial microorganisms, reducing organic matter and creating compact, infertile soils. Gardens dependent on the use of chemicals are more likely to suffer from insects, disease and drought conditions.
Compost tea is an aerobically brewed (not thermally brewed) liquid concentrate of soluble nutrients, organic compounds and elevated levels of microorganisms.

This concentrated liquid compost extract is teeming with live beneficial microorganisms, and is the best way to 'feed the soil' and maintain healthy soil environment, which is the key to healthy plants. Healthy soil is one that is alive with beneficial microorganisms that are responsible for producing robust plants, more resistance to insect and disease problems, and plants and trees that are more productive and able to withstand extremes in temperature and moisture. As beneficial species of microorganisms increase they displace pathogenic species. Less food and less room for pathogenic species to grow means fewer problems with Phytophthora or verticillium in the soil. On the leaf surface, there is less room for powdery mildew and black spot if beneficial species occupy at least 70%. On turf, beneficial fungi can out-compete lawn diseases like pythium, fusarium and rhizoctonia.
When planting trees, shrubs and perennials or renovating your lawn, Compost Tea will help your new plants get established quickly, with less transplant shock and faster root development. Compost Tea can enhance the germination of grass seed and development of the new roots as well. Existing plants and lawns benefit just as much from Compost Tea. The end result of all this bio-diversity is a reduction in the amount of fertilizer used making a positive impact on the environment. This is the direction we want to head in.

Recipe for tea is basically:

1. De-chlorinated water
2. High quality biologically active and diverse compost
3. A food source for the microorganisms to feed on and reproduce

• Brew time 20-24 hours.
• Bacteria and fungi grow in a brewer at exponential rates because the water contains high levels of oxygen (it's aerated) and a food source (kelp, molasses, humates or hydrolyzed fish) has been provided.

• Some species of bacteria reproduce every twenty minutes- start with 10,000 of a species at brew time, 24 hours later you may have tens of millions of this one species.

• Compost Tea replicates only those organisms present in the compost at brewing time. It cannot create beneficial fungi if none are present in the compost.

• Compost Tea has a rather short shelf life after brewing is complete (4-6 hours) because without aeration the bacteria begin to use up available oxygen and the tea goes anaerobic. Shelf life can be extended with additional aeration. Without aeration most beneficial bacteria quickly die and harmful anaerobes can begin to grow.

• Compost Tea can be applied to foliage or as a soil drench. It can be used on all ornamentals, vegetables, herbs, small fruits, turf, annuals and perennials.* Different teas can be brewed for different plant groups or plant needs. Most vegetables and annuals require a bacterial dominant tea, turf would require an equal ratio tea, while most woody ornamentals would need a fungal dominant brew.

• The different tea brews are determined by the makeup of the compost and the food source added to the water at brew time.

• Bacteria, fungi, nematodes and protozoa are responsible for nutrient cycling in the soil. They are the ones releasing nutrients to plants. At high enough populations, less fertilizer is needed. It could even be eliminated under ideal conditions.

• Properly brewed tea can be applied to foliage to suppress disease. Powdery mildew, black spot and rust can all be controlled or eliminated by regular foliar applications of Compost Tea. There is less room left on the leaf surface for disease organisms when at least 70% of the leaf surface is occupied by beneficial bacteria and fungi. This is known as the Foliar Food Web (like the Soil Food Web).

• Organisms that cause turf diseases can be suppressed by regular applications of Compost Tea. Disease causing fungi cannot compete with high populations of beneficial organisms.

• Compost Tea is applied at 5 gallons to an acre. Almost impossible to apply too much, too often. As long as food sources are available in the soil, a single application of tea gives enormous benefit for months or years to come. Establishing a true sustainable soil system.

• Vermicompost (worm compost) seems to be the best source of consistent biologically active compost to begin a brew.

Sources:

Soil Food Web, Inc

International Compost Tea Council