You can’t wait to start your garden.
You want to grow all those awesome fruits, flowers, and vegetables that you enjoy.
But there’s a problem.
Your garden is not in the best shape it could be. You’ve heard that rich, organic compost can help set your garden straight.
But the only issue is it takes a while for compost to start working in the garden. Is there something else you can try to get your plants up and running fast?
The good news is that compost tea can help your plants get the nutrients fast and easy. So let’s look at this liquid gold that can help you start your garden.
What is compost tea?
Compost tea is a mild, organic, fertilizer in liquid form. It’s nutrient-rich so gardeners consider it as liquid gold.
You make compost tea by using well-matured compost and steeping it in water. Steeping means you let it stay in the water for a few days with frequent stirring.
You aerate the mixture with a pump so that aerobic beneficial bacteria can thrive in the compost tea.
The quantity of compost tea you’ll need depends on the size of your garden. For a large garden, a 55-gallon drum can be used. And for a small garden, a 5-gallon bucket should be sufficient.
The time you’ll need to make compost tea is about 2 to 3 days.
Why should you use compost tea in your garden?
Compost tea is a fast-acting, nutrient-rich fertilizer for your garden. It comes with plenty of benefits listed below.
Compost tea helps provide beneficial organisms
Compost tea is rich in beneficial bacteria, fungi, microbes, and nematodes. These will help enrich the soil in your garden. And improve the immunity of your plants.
Compost tea provides nutrients to the plants and soil
You use compost tea directly on the plants as a foliar spray. Or you can spray it on your garden soil to enrich it.
It’s fast-acting and provides nutrients immediately to your plants and soil. That makes it beneficial for young plants and seedlings in your garden.
Compost tea improves the growth of your plants
There are a lot of nutrients and minerals in the compost tea that helps your plants grow better. This means you get an awesome harvest of flowers, fruits, and vegetables.
Compost tea helps replace toxins in your garden
If you have a garden that’s used chemical pesticides, fungicides, or fertilizers in the past, it’s time to stop.
Compost tea can help get rid of such chemicals from your garden soil. This helps invite beneficial insects, bacteria, and fungi to your garden.
The more of these beneficial organisms you have in your garden, the better it’s quality and harvest.
How can you make compost tea
It’s quite easy to make compost tea once you know the procedure. If you fail the first time, it’s simple to start over again. So don’t worry.
The things you’ll need to make compost tea are:
- A couple of 5-gallon buckets to hold the compost tea.
- A small bucket to sift the compost.
- A cheesecloth that helps you sift the solids from the compost.
- A pond pump with sufficient power
- An aerator that attaches to the pump
- An ounce of molasses
- Well-matured compost
- Well or tap water
- A spray pump or misting bottle
Here are the steps to make your compost tea:
If you’re using tap water, let it sit in the sun for 24 hours so the chlorine can break down. Chlorine can kill the beneficial bacteria present in compost. You don’t need to do this when using well water.
Use one 5 gallon bucket and place the aerator at the bottom. Then attach it to the pump placed outside the bucket.
It’s good to have a pump that is powerful enough to aerate the water so it looks like it’s boiling. You want good aeration otherwise the mixture will turn anaerobic and smelly.
Fill half of the bucket with compost. Make sure not to compact the compost as it needs to be loose for good aeration.
It’s best to use mature compost otherwise you risk bringing in harmful pathogens in the mixture. The mature compost brings in beneficial bacteria, fungi, microbes, and nematodes.
Fill the remaining bucket with the dechlorinated water leaving about 3 inches from the top. This will help you stir the mixture without spilling it out.
The last addition is the ounce of molasses. This provides beneficial bacteria with the energy they need to grow and multiply. Make sure the molasses does not contain sulfur as it harms the bacteria.
It’s time to stir the mixture of water, compost, and molasses well.
Now you can turn on the pump so sufficient oxygen circulates in the mixture. This is crucial so the beneficial bacteria get the required oxygen to survive.
You need to keep this mixture churning for 36 to 48 hours to encourage the bacterial growth. Don’t do this for more than 72 hours as the food required by the bacteria will be exhausted.
You need to stir this mixture every day so that the compost does not stick to the bottom of the bucket. Ensure the aerator is providing sufficient oxygen into the mixture.
Once the tea is ready, you can turn the pump off and remove the aerator. Use the small bucket to collect the tea and strain it into the second 5-gallon bucket.
The cheesecloth helps strain the solids while allowing the tea and bacteria into the bucket. You can put the strained solids back into the compost pile or your garden beds. They are still rich in nutrients and beneficial bacteria.
How can you use the compost tea
Now that your compost tea is ready, you can use it on your plants or garden soil. It’s best to use the brewed compost tea within four hours to get the best results.
How often you can use the compost tea depends on your garden health. If your garden is in good condition with thriving beneficial bacteria, one time in spring should be sufficient.
If your garden needs help to introduce beneficial bacteria, it’s good to spray the compost tea every two weeks.
The best time to use the compost tea is when the plants have developed their first set of true leaves.
Use it as a foliar spray
You can apply the compost tea as a liquid fertilizer on your plants. Make sure to dilute the tea before use otherwise you’ll burn the leaves.
You can dilute 1 part compost tea with 10 parts of water. It should appear as a light tea color.
Mix ⅛ teaspoon vegetable oil in the compost tea so it can stick to the leaves till the nutrients are absorbed.
You can put the compost tea in a pump sprayer or misting bottle and spray on the foliage.
It’s best to apply the compost tea after a rain, in the morning or evening when it’s cool. Don’t apply it when the sun is out as it can burn the leaves.
Use it as a root drench
You can apply the compost tea directly to the soil around your plants. It seeps into the soil and nutrients are available for your plants.
You don’t need to dilute the compost tea when using it as a root drench. And you can apply it at any time without worrying about the weather.
What compost should you use for making compost tea?
A well-matured compost is crucial if you want to make good compost tea with beneficial bacteria and nutrient.
The compost should be actively managed, mature, and well turned. Worm compost is quite good as well.
You can manipulate the ingredients used to make compost to get either bacteria-dominated compost tea or fungi-dominated compost tea.
Bacteria-dominated compost tea is beneficial as a foliar spray on your plants. It works well for growing vegetables and herbs.
To make such compost, you’ll need it to contain a higher mix of green material. This includes material like kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, and dried leaves.
The food sources for such bacteria include simple sugars and proteins like fruit juice, cane syrup, and fish emulsion.
The compost that is created from 1 to 3 months is usually bacteria dominated.
Fungi-dominated compost tea is beneficial as a foliar spray for soil growing berries and fruits.
The food sources for such fungi include complex sugars and proteins such as seaweed and humic acid.
The compost that has been created since 3 to 6 months is usually fungi dominated.
What pump should you use to make compost tea?
The pump you use to aerate your compost tea should be powerful enough to churn the mixture well.
You need to consider the height, width, and depth of the bucket before choosing a pump. It’s not advisable to use an aquarium pump as they don’t generate sufficient power.
For a 5 gallon bucket, a pump with at least 45 liters air per minute should be used. This could be a 20 to 60-gallon air pump.
You should use airstones that help break up the bubbles of air from the pump to help with better aeration.
You want to ensure that the water looks like it’s boiling when you set up the pump. That means you have the right power to provide the best aeration to the compost tea.
Compost tea can help you start your garden by supplying it with the nutrients and beneficial microorganisms that your plants need.
It’s easy to start making your compost tea.
The first step is to get the materials that can get you started with the process. The good thing is there’s not much you need to do this.
So start the process and you’re well on your way to grow the awesome fruits, flowers, and vegetables you want.
It’s time to make liquid gold and become rich in your garden.