Thursday, July 11, 2013

Making Compost Tea ~ for your plants to enjoy, not you!

Every time I learn about some new DIY thing, I just have to try it.  Recently while reading about composting (which I want to start doing) I came across an article about making Compost Tea.  Which lead me to another, and another, so I picked up a little information here and a little more there.    Then I decided to try to make my own.

If you want to make compost tea with me you will need to gathered the following items:

First I filled the bucket most of the way up with water from the hose.  Since this is probably chlorinated I put the air hose in the bucket, held down by the rock, and let it bubble for about 4 hours to evaporate the chlorine.  It's important to keep the bucket in a warm location but not in direct sunlight, otherwise you will be promoting algae growth and that is not good for composting tea.  I put mine out on the patio, under full shade.

Then I added the compost to the water.  I didn't bag it like some suggested, since I was only making 5 gallons I didn't think this would be necessary.  I added 1 ounce of Molasses and stirred it all up.  Then I placed the tubing at the bottom again, and held it in place with my big rock.  And just let it 'steep'.

Some instructions suggested that I stir it daily, others didn't mention stirring, and since I had such a high powered air pump that was really keeping the water moving, I didn't bother with the stirring.  Three days later my compost 'Tea' was done steeping.  It looked like rich, dark tea coffee, but smelled like poo (not literally like poo, but I am hyper-sensitive to smells).

I turned off and removed the pump and air hose.  Then carried the bucket out to my raised bed garden, splashing some of this nasty smelling tea on my leg...oh joy! 

I then let the tea sit for a about 20 minutes so all the solids sank to the bottom.  You are suppose to then pour it through a strainer and then dilute the tea with 1 part Tea and 10 parts water.  Well, I didn't have any more buckets for this whole straining and diluting process so I modified those instructions.  I advise you to gather 2 buckets in the beginning (one for steeping the tea, one for straining then diluting the tea) so you don't have to make the modifications that I did. 

It is important to use the tea right away because without the air flow, the good microorganisms and fungi will begin to go to sleep.  It is also very important that you do not pour the tea directly on your plant as it could burn your plant.  Since I did not have extra buckets I had to dilute my tea by using a bowl to scoop out some tea, then add water to it before pouring at the base of each plant.  Not a perfect science, but close enough.

I think my plants appreciated the sip of Compost Tea as much as I enjoyed my glass of mint tea that I brewed for myself once this task was complete.

  Keeper of 1 husband, 2 grandkids, 2 dogs,
3 cats, and various Chickens!

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