compost tea

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compost tea

Postby mcplant » Jun 15, 2008 11:58 am

I have seen charts provided by compost tea machine manufacturers that indicate that the extraction should be finished after "about" 14 hours. I have seen articles directed at those of us whom do not have machines that say 2 or 3 days are required? Also, I have ready "let your nose tell you when it is ready". How does one tell when it is ready for use. Does the "foam" mean anything specific? Any experience to share?
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Postby caliloo » Jun 24, 2008 4:50 am

UNfortunately, I can't help you on how long it takes to make the tea. However, I am curious why a decoction would be better than using the compost directly on the garden?

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compost tea

Postby mcplant » Jun 24, 2008 8:01 am

Hi Alexa--
Thanks for your interest/curiosity.
I am speaking only from what I have read. As a novice this makes sense to me.
Let me start by saying that I am a city gardener with only a corner lot. My soil is "heavy" clay. I have used and will continue to use my own compost as well as that purchased from the local disposal service. The aerobic "brewing" of the tea is said to increase the numbers of beneficial microbes exponentially. The 'recipe" I am using uses 1/2 gallon each of compost, worm castings and alfalfa meal. The yield is about 15 gallons of tea. The tea can be applied as a foliar or to the soil. I am hoping that I am applying nutrition as well as microbes to work the soil and hope of all hopes that this will somehow alleviate the yearly onslaught of spider mites. I also have two 100sq.ft. greenhouses and the spider mite thing is worse in there. Any help there?

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Postby caliloo » Jun 24, 2008 9:37 am

Thanks for the explanation.

I too garden in an area with heavy clay. Fortunately hostas do not seem to mind it although there are a lot of plants that are not happy in it. I have been on my own path to improve the soil and growing conditions around my gardens and what I have found to work well for me is:

In the spring (late April or early May here) I put several layers of newpaper down in between all my perennials. The earthworms LOVE to eat newspaper and in return they aerate the soil and leave worm castings. To keep the newspaper from blowing away (and make it a little more attractive) I cover it with compost and/or mulch. I then sprinkle coffee grounds (from my local coffee shop) over the mulch/compost. It filters down through the top dressing and the worms love the grounds even more than the newspapers. I also broadcast alfalfa pellets (for horses, not rabbits) over the whole bed and put an extra handfull at the base of each rose and water them in. They disintigrate withint a day or two and you cant even see them.

I think I am getting the same ingredients you are using, but I don't have to deal with the smell or mess of the tea. Maybe that might work for you too? Of course, I am always open to any suggestions that make this even easier - I will keep tuned to this thread.....

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Postby Mary Ann » Jun 24, 2008 10:28 am

Dennis, you have explained the benefits perfectly as I understand them. I've been brewing compost/alfalfa teas with aeration for several years, also add dry molasses for additional nutrition for beneficial soil microbes. I've read that it increases their populations dramatically.

I believe if tea steeps too long, it smells bad and by that time it goes anaerobic . . . .the microbes die, so probably a day or two is plenty. The added air bubbles keeps the water from fouling and the microbes repopulating . It smells good.

I used to be overrun with pillbugs in the garden but their damage stopped altogether last year not sure if there's a connection.

My grandsons are fascinated with the bubbling brew . . . too complicated to explain to them so I tell them it's fertilizer water, don't touch.

Alexa, with the foliar feed and soil drench, the nutrients get to the plants quicker.
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