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JJ the Gardener

Composting, Compost Extract & Compost Tea

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Compost Extract and Compost Tea

Compost extract and compost tea is a method of inputting nutrients and microbiology to your soils or growing media of choice.

Compost extract and compost tea is a tool that enables the gardener to assist the plants development with more accuracy and support as the grow season and plant further develops.  

  • Compost extract works to maintain your soils and is dependent on the quality and condition of your living soil.  
  • Compost tea is best used for foliar applications and in the soil. 

Things to consider are the environment, the period of plant growth, soil condition and your plants condition.  By understanding this and how to tailor your compost extracts and teas to address and support these aspects you can take a leading role in working towards a great harvest!  In order to do that, we need to understand the soil food web and how that applies to compost tea and extract usage.

The following video is excellent on explaining the soil food web, compost making, making humic acid (than can be used immediately and how it helps to lock up chlorine and chloramine), making compost extract and compost tea.  

  • This information is vital in understanding how to make effective high quality compost extracts and teas.

 

Elaine Ingham Soil Food Web Compost and Compost Tea

photo.jpg Lonnie Gamble - Elaine Ingham Soil Food Web Compost and Compost Tea

 

Their are many ways to create a compost tea with some being aerobic and some being anaerobic but they both can lead to the same end.  What is more important than the method (as long as the method is effective) of making extracts or tea is the quality and type of the compost and ingredients.   Additionally with using the right compost and ingredients for the time period and the state of your garden plants.  

The quality and effectiveness largely dependent upon the microbiology and catalyst ingredients combining to create a garden tea that optimizes and/or supports your plants life cycle and to help maintain vigor during times of stress by strengthening your living soil with inputs of beneficial bacteria and fungus.

For some, compost extracts and teas work and for others it does not.  This is a factor more so when the type of extract or tea is made with ineffective methods and/or the soil does not work effectively together.  

  • Just making a tea and applying it to the plants does not equate to effectiveness.  We need to ensure the biology in the tea is correct for your situation such as plant stage and that the soil biology needs are infused with the right biology that will strengthen your soil.  

Compost extract and tea is a management tool and not something that should be used only in emergency situations and/or only during times of stress.   

  • I view managing compost teas very similar to natural farming inputs.  It should be regularly used as a maintenance to reinforce the soil biology matching the life cycle of the plant and in this way I have seen great success with compost extracts and teas.

Their are many types of compost teas one can purchase commercially and the options are almost unlimited in what a gardener can craft at home.  Determining if it is better to select a ready to use compost tea or to make your own can be a difficult endeavor depending on ones knowledge and skill as a gardener and in understanding the applicable microbiology.  This question can be complicated with that perspective.  

While making the tea is simplistic, making effective teas is potentially an entire different thing.  The following video will help address some aspects of commercial compost tea products compared to making your own.  The answer on what is the best option for you depends on you.  

This is not about making your own garden teas or buying ready to make garden teas.  It is about working to instill enough information and knowledge to help you determine what is best for your situation.  We advocate what is effective for you and thus we are fans of quality commercially ready to make compost teas and fans of making your own.  

  • Our concern is the living soils and the plants and helping gardeners gain knowledge and not be reactive to marketing information.

Their are fantastic and effective compost teas you can purchase and you can also make fantastic effective gardening teas with your own ingredients but in reality many gardeners do not have the quality ingredients to brew an effective tea.  Think quality in and quality out kind of thing.  

  • The following video is not placed as an advertisement as it is for the information and knowledge that is discussed.  It just happens to be from Josh Cunnings from boogie brew - http://www.boogiebrew.net/open-source-compost-tea/   We are appreciative for his videos.  ~JJ the Gardener.

 

Why Compost Tea is NOT Created Equal & How to Make the Best Compost Tea

photo.jpgLearn Organic Gardening at GrowingYourGreens  - Why Compost Tea is NOT Created Equal & How to Make the Best Compost Tea

 

Determining what kind of compost tea you need is the first step such as more bacterial, fungal or a blend.  This is will largely be determined by the type of plants you are growing and the current state of the plants and soil.  

  • In later compilations we will discuss making composts to enhance various microbiology that will help you better make your own quality compost varieties as to enable you to construct your garden teas to better meet your specific needs.
    • Green compost component - leaves and green parts of the plants while still green.
    • Brown compost component - plants after seed production and nutrition is located more in the roots.
    • Woody compost component.

 

Elaine Ingham on Compost Ingredients

photo.jpg ThePermacultureStudent - Elaine Ingham on Compost Ingredients

 

To make your own compost teas we recommend that you have access to quality ingredients such as rich compost (forest, sea/ocean-for chitin and mushroom compost combined are best practice), rich worm castings, rich soils, fish hydrolysate (unheated or its useless), kelp, humic acids (best made from your own compost) and utilizing a bit of sea water 1:30 dilution/mineralized-fermented water, a bit of rock dust, a pinch of biochar a pinch of yeast and protein powder can also be added.     

 

Elaine Ingham on Mollases in your Compost Tea? How to make Fungal Composts

photo.jpg ThePermacultureStudent - Elaine Ingham on Mollases in your Compost Tea? How to make Fungal Composts

 

We will discuss various garden teas recipes further below and explain the reasoning.   While it is common for people to obtain these ingredients they often do not have them all in an effective quality.  Then their is the method of brewing the tea.  

 
 
About brewing compost teas
Many gardeners who make their own compost teas often make errors in the brewing.  This is largely due to improper to negligent cleaning of the brewing equipment that leads to pathogens and thus problems.  Using sugars and molasses are not generally recommended as they work towards bacterial growth.  
 
The common air-stone and 5 gallon containers method is often a culprit.  We have no problem with the 5 gallon and air stone method but in its maintenance specifically in cleaning aspects that can lead to problems.
  • Sometimes when people get sick from eating produce from organic farms this is a potential factor.
  • We have seen many garden teas made by a variety of methods work well but these have a higher margin of error for the ordinary gardener when not maintained correctly.

 

Dangers of making compost tea

photo.jpg Back 2 Organics - Why Brewing Compost Tea is Dangerous

 

The following video is the follow video from above and illustrates a recipe that is considered more safe in regards to e-coli and similar pathogens.  Any method can be utilized similarly by not adding sugar/molasses.

 

The Simplest and Easiest compost tea

photo.jpg Back 2 Organics - The Simplest and Easiest compost tea

 

Garden tea can be made by steeping compost/ingredients and daily stirring in clock wise direction making a vortex and making teas with aeration from air pumps with constant mixing.   Both methods are viable but both require proper management and care to ensure proper quality.

 

Stirred Compost Tea vs Pump Bubbled Compost Tea! With Results!

photo.jpg Work With Nature - Stirred Compost Tea vs Pump Bubbled Compost Tea! With Results!

 

While many utilize the air stone in a bucket method safely we advocate a more effective process of instilling higher oxygen and mixing which intern leads to higher populations of microbiology by making a higher populated AACT or activated aerated compost tea.  

  • We are not saying the air-stone in a bucket or even just manually stirring each day will not make a good garden tea but we are  speaking on aspects regarding them in regards to the common gardener so that they may be accounted for.
  • We are for whatever brewer or method you use as it is the knowledge we hope to instill as to assist you making effective garden teas.

The following videos illustrates tea brewers people can make themselves with great amounts of information on the subject of Compost extracts and teas.

Dr. Elaine Ingham discusses and illustrates making compost tea with various compost brewer sizes.

photo.jpg Ong Th - Dr Elaine Ingham – Compost Tea download

 

 

Larger Homemade Brewer
 
photo.jpgLearn Organic Gardening at GrowingYourGreens - Best DIY Compost Tea Brewer made with a Garbage Can & PVC Pipe
 
 
 

Compost recipe and process

Compost tea for 5 gallon bucket with store bought or your own made ingredients with lots of even aeration from bottom. 

  • Humic acid - 1 drop per gallon, 1 tsp is ok. (breaks down chloramine), 
  • Liquid kelp (fungus and some bacterial growth), 2 tsp
  • Humic acid again to feed fungi, 1/4 cup
  • Unsulphored Molasses.  (use little 1/4 to 1/2 tsp) :58db4612147f1_mushroom1:
    • This is to help start the bacteria growth but not overwhelm it.
    • Too fast bacterial growth will utilize the food source for fungal growth that comes a bit later in the process.
    • Film on the sides of the brewer indicate dead biology.
      • Next time reduce sugar input
      • Check your brewing times and adjust accordingly.
  • Compost in a tea bag/panty hose, 1/2 pound.
    • Hang compost in the middle of the container.
    • the color of the water should change quickly.
      • This is humic acids and biology going into the tea.
  • 8 hours later
    • Remove tea bag from brewer.
    • A majority of the microbes will have been released into the water.
    • Remove compost from the bag and place it back into the compost pile you took it from.
    • Resume brewing for 12 to 16 hours 
      • Total of 24 hours since starting the brew.
      • Brewing for 24 hours favors more bacterial and longer such as 36 to 48 hours brewing favors more fungal life.  Adjust per your needs.
    • Turn off aerator and rinse and clean.
      • Very important to rinse and clean to prevent future negative issues in following brews.
    • collect the compost tea.
    • Apply immediately.
      • Soil and leaf surfaces.
    • Immediately thoroughly clean everything.

 

Compost Extract

Compost extract for 5 gallon bucket, no food is added.  The biology is not active and thus not viable for foliar uses but is good for soil use.

  • 4 gallons of water.
  • 4 drops of homemade humic acid per gallon of water to manage chlorine and chloramine.  (1 drop per gallon, a little extra is ok)
    • Do not use humic acids from leanardite or coal based as these are not usable to the microbiology or your plants due to its form being not usable for about 6 plus months. 
  • Place compost in tea bag, panty hose, paint strainer.
  • Then massage the compost tea bag in the water for 1 minute.  The water will turn brown in color.  After one minute you are done.
  • Return the compost back to the compost bin.
    • The used compost will again be colonized by microbiology and its humic and fulvic acids will be replenished in time.
  • use the compost extract immediately for in soil use only.
    • The microbiology is not active so it is not sticky and is not beneficial as a foliar input. 

 

Advanced Information

photo.jpg Innovative Farmers - Dr. Elaine Ingham Compost Tea Audio

 

Summary

You should now have an understanding about compost qualities and the differences of the types of composting materials.  An understanding of how to make and the uses of compost extract and compost teas and how to make and safely utilize them.  In this you should have an effective base in which to better manage your garden utilizing compost extracts and compost teas.

In following compilations we will discuss how to better shape your compost teas as to better address the life cycle of the plants such as vegetative, transition and flowering phases of plant growth.

 

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For you!

 

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Links:

 

 

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~A proud Cultural Healing and Life Compilation

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