Composting has been one of the most popular ways to reduce waste and promote healthy soil. It is the process of decomposing organic matter into nutrient-rich soil, which can be used as a natural fertilizer. However, a lesser-known method of utilizing compost is by making compost tea. This is simply a brewed form of compost that contains all the nutrients and beneficial microorganisms required for healthy plant growth. It’s a natural and inexpensive way to supercharge the growth of your plants while reducing the waste you send to landfills. And it’s incredibly good for your plants, raising their nutritional value and helping you achieve optimal health and immune strength.
“There are a number of documented benefits to applying compost tea to soil and/or plants, including increased soil water retention, improved soil fertility, and reduced reliance on the need for chemical pesticides and fertilizers,” explains the University of Alabama. “Regular compost also produces benefits to both plants and soils, but unlike compost tea, has not been acknowledged to reduce plant pathogens. Compost tea applied directly to plant foliage has been shown to suppress phytopathogens on a variety of edible crops, including tomatoes.”
In today’s recipe, we’ll show you how to make your own compost tea at home!
Step 1: Choose Your Compost
Choose mature compost that has been decomposed for at least 3-4 months. The compost should be dark, crumbly, and have a pleasant earthy aroma. Avoid using fresh compost as it will contain harmful bacteria that can harm your plants.
Step 2: Prepare Your “Tea Bag”
The tea bag is used to hold the compost while it is being brewed. You can use a permeable bag like a cheesecloth or an old pillowcase. Cut the bag to your preferred size, leaving enough space to fill it with compost. Once you’ve filled the bag with compost, tie the top of the bag with a string that can be used to suspend it in the water.
Step 3: Brew the Compost Tea
Fill a 5-gallon bucket with water and let it sit for 24 hours. This will allow the chlorine in your tap water to evaporate from the water (or if using rain water, no need to wait). Once you’ve let the water sit, add the tea bag filled with compost to the bucket, making sure it’s fully submerged in the water. Stir the compost tea bag occasionally for 24-48 hours to allow the tea to brew and the organisms to multiply.
Step 4: Harvest the Compost Tea
Once the tea has brewed long enough, it’s time to harvest it. Remove the “tea bag” and give the water a stir — it should be dark and smell earthy. You can now use the tea by diluting it with water (2-3 cups of tea per gallon) and applying it as a spray or drench to the soil around the plant’s base.
Step 5: Store It Properly
Your nutrient-rich water can be stored for up to two weeks in a cool and dark place. Make sure to store it in a lidded container to prevent any contamination. Do not store it for too long as it will lose the beneficial microorganisms.
Using the few simple steps above, you can have a nutrient-rich tea that will keep your plants happy and healthy. The process of making compost tea might seem daunting at first, but once you’ve made your first batch, it becomes a breeze. Remember to always choose mature compost, brew the tea, and apply it to your plants properly. Happy gardening!