Thursday, May 1, 2014

How To Make Compost Tea

What is Compost Tea?

For all you tea lovers out there you can add compost tea to your list but you don’t drink it, you use it on your plants. 

You make compost tea by steeping compost in unclorinated water. The mixing process can be a simple as burlap bag in a bucket of water, or some very advanced tea makers use bubbling air to mix things and keep it aerobic (good microbes).  Some tea makers also add some nutrients for the microbes, typically a sugar.  

So why go to all this trouble? 

I’m glad you asked. Compost tea has a very low level of nutrients, probably less than you’d get from the ionized nitrogen from a good lightening storm (that is another story). It also has some micro nutrients, depending on the the substrate that the compost was made from. Micro nutrients are very good stuff. It also has some minerals, that are great for the flavor of the vegetables you grown. But the main reason is microbes.

Aerobic compost and the teas brewed from it are highly colonized by some very beneficial microbes. If you sprinkle or spray your crops with tea, you coat the foliage with beneficial microbes that work in a symbiotic relationship with the plants to fend off disease. The surface of leaves and stems of the plants are covered with microbes, these can either be fungus and viruses that attach the plants or the beneficial microbes that are friendly to the plants. (Did you know that your skin is also covered with beneficial microbes and some of the harsh cleansers we use today can strip away these protective critters.)

So want to take this to a whole new level, use worm castings for your tea. The worm castings are much richer in nutrients than just plain compost. 

You can get compost, castings or worms to grow your own at our stand at the Rochester Minnesota Farmers Market.

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