Ways & How

How to Make Compost Tea for Your Garden

How to Make Compost Tea for Your Garden

The DIY approach to making fertilizers is increasingly appealing to those who want to have chemical-free edibles on hand. Compost tea is one of those homemade fertilizers for seedlings that is easy and inexpensive to make. More than just providing nutritional benefits to a plant’s leaf-production stage, compost tea prevents fungi from attacking the plant, which is vulnerable once it grows shoots. The tea-brewing process also extracts beneficial bacteria from solid compost and makes them readily available to plants. The process is also thought to multiply the bacteria that had thrived in the solid compost, and this makes the tea microorganism-rich. Some even suggest that vegetables and other garden edibles taste better and pack more nutrients when nourished with compost tea, an added benefit to gardeners who prefer their food to be organic. Environmentally, compost tea contributes to the ecological diversity and vigor of the soil, so if you live in an area where the ground is not fit for agriculture, you can immensely benefit from using compost tea instead of commercial soil conditioners.

Even better, compost tea does not only prevent plant diseases, the extract also treats them. If you are planning to start an edible landscape, here are some pointers on how to make compost tea for your garden.

  1. Dig up compost. The more mature the compost, the better. Mature compost gives off an earthy-smelling, yet sweet, aroma. Unpleasant-smelling compost means that it has not been aerated well and, therefore, failed to create beneficial microbes that are essential to plant growth. To brew tea-worthy compost, turn the pile often, so its temperature reaches 135° to 155°F for a week or more. But if you already have year-old compost lying around in the pit, that will make a great tea-ready substitute.

  2. Combine compost and water in a container. One pound of mature compost requires one gallon of chlorine-free water. If you are using tap water, let it sit for one day in a container to release the chlorine. If chlorine or other chemicals are present in your water, they will kill beneficial microorganisms.

  3. Place container away from cold and heat.

  4. Stir contents with a stick every day for at least five days.

  5. Strain the tea from the compost after five days. You can use cheesecloth or burlap to separate the solids. Make sure there is no bubbling or unpleasant odor.

There is no need to dilute the tea when watering the plants. Feed your plants early in the morning or late in the afternoon for better absorption. The tea keeps for up to two days; microorganisms start to lose their vitality after this period. Spread the solid contents on your garden bed for best results instead of throwing them away. Also, avoid applying the tea to any edibles within a month of their harvest. The tea contains aerobic bacteria that could upset stomachs when ingested. If sprayed on the leaves, compost tea prevents and even treats plant diseases like powdery mildew. You can also use the tea to strengthen seedling roots against soil-borne diseases. Drench the soil well after the seedlings have been transplanted. For garden maintenance, a monthly application should suffice. Those of you who learn how to make compost tea for your garden can now grow edibles that allow you to substantially save on food costs and reduce the waste that directly goes to the landfills. And while solid compost is often the go-to item for homemade fertilizers, there is more to it than just getting dumped in the garden bed to condition and enrich the soil. Brewing tea from compost expands the solid compost’s applications that benefit plants in the early and middle growing seasons.


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