Compost tea in some form or another has been around since the beginning of agriculture. Somebody must’ve noticed that plants grew better around manure or on manured ground, but solid manure can be hard to work with, so in went the manure into a container of water. It was left to steep with an occasional stir, and now, voila! compost tea! Gardeners and farmers noticed that the brew when used as a drench improved plant growth.
But is that how we make compost tea today? Is there a cleaner way? YES!
Making the brew
At Seascapes we brew Aerated Compost Tea to ensure we are getting the highest concentration of beneficial microbes possible. We add a mixture of compost, worm castings, humic acids, kelp extract, fish emulsion, molasses and organic micronutrients to a large aerated compost tea brewer filled with dechlorinated water and let it bubble for about 24 hours. The beneficial microorganisms in the compost thrive on the sugar in the molasses and the nitrogen provided by the fish emulsion and they multiply themselves exponentially. Within 24 – 36 hours the microbes are thriving and multiplying and are ready to be applied to the yard, lawn or garden.
How does it work?
Compost tea works by boosting the quantity and diversity of beneficial soil microorganisms present in the soil and on the plant. These microorganisms play many roles in plant and soil health.
Here’s a list of the deliverables:
- Fight pests and diseases
- Increase in nutrients available to plants
- Break down toxins and pollutants in the soil
- Decrease run-off and leaching
- Increase the nutritive value and flavor of the fruits and vegetables grown (hey its good for us too!)
What are the microorganisms found in compost tea, and what do they do?
The main microorganisms in compost tea are fungi, bacteria and protozoa. All of these organisms are important decomposers and play vital roles in the breakdown of organic matter.
- Certain fungi have been shown to move nutrients through the soil to make them more available to plants.
- Bacteria form symbiotic relationships with certain plants that allow them to create their own nitrogen.
- Protozoa do the important work of eating bacteria and releasing nutrients into the soil as waste. Increasing the concentration of beneficial microbes helps neutralize the effects of harmful or pathogenic microbes that cause plant disease.
Some plants prefer to form relationships with different microorganisms, for example; perennial, woody shrubs and trees prefer a soil more dominated by fungi whereas annual vegetables, flowers and soft stemmed plants prefer a more bacterial dominated soil. Compost tea can be brewed either bacterially dominant, fungally dominant or balanced fungal/bacterial.
We brew a balanced fungal/bacterial compost tea to ensure the widest range of microbe diversity and provide a product that can be used on any plant and in any setting. Cool huh?
How do I use it?
Aerated compost tea should be used quickly after leaving the brewer as it contains living organisms that need oxygen. Best use is within 4 hours of leaving the brewer.
Here’s 3 hassle free steps to using compost tea like a pro.
- Keep the compost tea cool, out of direct sunlight and in an open top container (like a bucket). If tea is left too long without use it will get a bad, anaerobic smell and will not be good to use in the garden.
- Use only chemical-free equipment for compost tea storage or applications, e.g. watering cans or sprayers, because residues of fungicides or herbicides are harmful to the compost.
- Compost tea can be applied 2 ways. The first being directly to the soil as a drench, usually applied with a watering can and at full strength or diluted to a 1:1 ratio with water. The second is as a foliar spray, applied with a pump sprayer and at a dilution of 1:1 or 1:2 tea to water.
A word on soil health
Good soil is a lot more than just dirt. Healthy soil contains large amounts of organic matter and billions upon billions of microorganisms. The bugs and worms that we can see are just the tip of the iceberg of a massive web of soil biology. Each soil organism has an important function in this web and a good understanding of these functions allows a gardener to tip the odds of success in their favor.
This sounds Awesome! How can I get some?
We brew our compost tea at the nursery every week on Wednesday. So on Thursday of every week we will have tea for sale. Just bring your own one gallon container and we will fill it up for you! For only $5.00 a pop this is a cost effective, and extremely efficient way to get your garden in tip top shape!