How To Make And Use Compost Tea - The Ultimate Organic Fertilizer

Hell Yes 2 days ago
Compost tea is the perfect way to boost your plants growth and obtain higher yields - NATURALLY. Better yet, you can make it for free using your own compost! We keep our garden productive year after year by following a simple and organic three prong approach. We use compost (composting 101) and cover crops (planting cover crops) for building great soil structure and vitality - AND we boost plants during the growing season with a simple homemade natural liquid fertilizer on our plants called compost tea.
Compost tea or "black liquid gold" is the all organic "miracle-growing" solution to fertilizing the garden - minus the chemicals and high salt content that commercial fertilizers add to your soil. It works its magic in two ways - feeding your plants through the roots (soil zones around plants) and the leaves (foliar zones). Unlike synthetic fertilizers, it won't build up chemicals and salt levels that can slowly destroy your soil structure. Instead, adding nutrients that build it!
If you follow along with our blog, you know how important compost is in building healthy soil. We add large amounts of compost to all of our planting beds each year, as well as a good shovel full in every single planting hole. Well, that compost, made from our decomposed vegetable scraps, chicken manure, grass clippings, coffee grounds, and more - is teeming with all-natural, plant-boosting nutrients. By converting those nutrients into a liquid form - we can utilize those nutrients as an organic fertilizer to naturally boost plants growth through the growing season.
How we use it:
Compost Tea can be applied about every two weeks to your garden plants once plants and transplants have become established. By established, we simply mean that they have been in the ground 7 to 10 days and are over the initial shock of transplant.
We apply ours with a watering can or a simple garden sprayer - soaking the area around the root base and the leaves of each plant with the solution. The minerals and nutrients are then absorbed through the leaves (foliar absorption) as well as through the root zone - doubling the effect. As with watering, it is best to apply early in the day before the sun is too hot and the tea can burn the leaves of plants.
We repeat the compost tea applications every two weeks until about mid July. Why stop? Too much of a good thing can also be bad. You want plants to develop strong roots and stems - but too much and the plant will spend all of its energy creating thick foliage and not much fruit. We have found that 4 to 6 total applications seem to be the perfect mix for giving plants the boost they need for good higher yields. The best part - its 100% natural, with no fear of having to use any chemicals in your garden.
How we make it: There are many ways to make compost tea - but we have found this method to be easy, effective, and most importantly, simple!
You will need a 5 Gallon Bucket, stir stick, water, and a few shovel fulls of finished compost.
Start by filling your bucket about 1/3 full of compost. Use compost from the bottom of your pile, where organic matter has decayed the most and is teeming with life.Next - fill the bucket to the within an inch or two of the top with water. It is best to use well water (we use our rain water) because there will be no chlorine or other chemicals. Chlorine can kill off many of the helpful bacteria and organisms that are alive in compost. If you only have access to city water, no worries - simply fill the bucket a few days in advance and let sit outside. The sun and air will work its magic and within a few days, almost all of the chlorine will be gone.
Stir the compost good with a stick or the end of your garden shovel. Over the course of the next 5 to 7 days, stir the bucket a few times each day. This aeration of the water and the stirring of the compost helps to release more nutrients into the water, much like dunking a tea bag releases more tea into your drink.
At the end of 5 to 7 days, simply strain the mixture through a piece of burlap, mesh screen or a strainer, and you are left with the magical liquid gold fertilizer called compost tea! Store in an air tight container to keep the "liquid gold" at it's best nutrient levels.
Bonus Info:
You can find more pictures on how we make it by going to our blog post. You can get a little more fancy in your compost tea making if you desire. It has been shown that adding a simple aquarium pump to the bucket and letting it run to percolate the mixture will increase the potency of the finished mixture, and can be completed in as little as 2 days. Others also add molasses or sugar to the mixture to increase the absorption of the water and organisms.
However, for us, the simple bucket and stirring method has certainly worked wonders for our garden. Besides, the extra few days we let ours steep in the water is worth not having to go through the trouble of setting up a pump, wires, etc. For us, keeping it simple is the key!So how about trying your own liquid gold this year and get those plants growing big and strong! If you would like to receive our DIY & Gardening Tips every Tuesday – be sure to sign up to follow the blog via email in the right hand column, "like" us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.
Happy Gardening - Jim and Mary
Although not appetizing to drink -compost tea is great for your plants!
Strain the mixture through mesh or a strainer
Compost tea works through absorption via the leaves and soil
Compost Tea takes full advantage of the rich fertile nutrients in compost.
Simple Compost Tea Ingredients - water, compost and a bucket!
Next, fill the bucket to within a few inches of the top and stir thoroughly.

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  • Laura Peet
    Laura Peet Canada
    is this only using granule tea shake... or can tag bag's work as well.
  • Pam Shoesmith Probasco
    Why strain it? Seems like you're throwing out good stuff!
    • Scott Petrinec
      Scott Petrinec Erie, PA
      Pam Shoesmith Probasco you dont really have to strain it, you can use it as top dressing, or just top dress the soil and then water it with water. it will wash the nutrients out of your top dressing, and into your soil.
  • Kelp4Less
    Kelp4Less Idaho Falls, ID
    This is a great article - if you don't have compost already made, we have a tea starter available here:
  • Mary Jo-Bragg
    Mary Jo-Bragg Shreveport, LA
    Exactly what I do here

    My regular trash can is always empty on trash day I recycle every thing

  • Regina Hallmark
    Regina Hallmark Wynne, AR
    I make a kitchen compost by saving my potato peelings carrots tops all vegetable extras , coffee grounds , tea leaves (used) and put them in the blender with flat soft drink or beer . After they are blended pour on the garden plants or flower beds
  • Chris K
    Chris K Urbana, MO
    Jo yes it is, I got it on line, I can't remember where. Just type in compost magic and it will come up, it is a black bucket with a dial on the bottom so you can remove the liquid to use as fertilizer. It also comes with ground coconut shells to sprinkle
  • Ruth M
    Ruth M Hartsville, SC
    The grubs probably came because the soil was richer where the tea was added. Would do the same if you put manure on the garden. There are ways to control grubs organically. I think BT is organic.
  • Pjlea
    Pjlea Waynesville, NC
    Manure tea: produced grubs when I used it on roses. Can't imagine using it on all the plants in garden. Would be better just to place manure on entire garden and let it compost over the winter. The grubs cause other pests like moles, and it's a real
  • Diane Rich
    Diane Rich Springfield, MA
    Chris K...can you tell me more about compost magic and where to purchase. I am in a condo

    and cannot build a compost pile outside. Do you keep yours inside? I would love to be able to do this, but not sure how to

    • Chris K
      Chris K Urbana, MO
      Diane Rich you can get the bucket on line. just type in compost magic and it should come up.
  • Donna S
    Donna S Manistee, MI
    I love compost tea for my garden! It works wonders!
  • Mark C
    Mark C Lowell, MA
    If you do not have a spot to make your own compost. This is also a great "Tea" for your garden. Just buy a bag of cow manure and put about 1/3rd of it in a 5 gallon bucket fill with water cover if possible. Stir every few days and start to apply after it
  • Lorraine M
    Lorraine M Shepherdsville, KY
    When our Louisville Zoo next offers "zoo-poopy-do", I plan to get my tea brewing. (We usually get two scoops that fill up our pickup truck, so I'm sure we'll have enough.) Rich wonderful stuff from exotic animals...,can't get much better than that!
  • Patricia W
    Patricia W Eugene, OR
    I just added a big helping to my wisteria, which is really taking its time this year! Its climbed all the way to out bedroom balcony,still no flowers. The tea should give it some energy!
  • Chris K
    Chris K Urbana, MO
    It doesn't smell so great. OOps
  • Chris K
    Chris K Urbana, MO
    I have a compost bucket that makes compost tea for me. It is called compost magic. I just throw all of my kitchen scrapes into the bucket every month or so I turn the dial on the bottom and out pours my tea, it smell so great but make great plant food.
    • Mary Jo-Bragg
      Mary Jo-Bragg Shreveport, LA
      I saved rain in a large trash can with lid The summer was so hot I wanted to make sure I had my own water source lol
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