Miracle Fertilizer made with Simple Ingredients
Compost tea takes a tiny amount of precious compost or animal manure and brews it into a miracle fertilizer. If you can only afford one bag of composted chicken manure or have only a small composting system, use it to make compost tea and spread the wealth around.
The compost or manure ferments in water to make a brew specifically tuned to your environment and eco system, due to the airborne yeasts and micorrhizae already present in your garden.
The nutrients in the compost tea feed the micro herd of tiny microscopic organisms that are in the soil, which then make it available for uptake by the plants.
In some cases, the plants are able to use the nutrients directly through their roots or even the leaves, which is known as foliar feeding.
Making Compost Tea
There are essentially two kinds of compost tea brewing; aerobic, and anaerobic. These are scientific terms meaning aerobic = with air; and anaerobic = without air. The difference is significant.
- Aerobic composting or brewing is virtually odourless if done correctly with an air pump or commercially available compost tea brewer to circulate air continuously through the tea.
- Anaerobic composting creates quite a smell due to the sulphur compounds released. The typical smell is that of rotten eggs. It’s harmless, if objectionable.
I use a 40 litre (ten gallon) garbage can to brew compost tea, but you can use other containers if you have them. I’ve even made it in a bucket, but of course, you run out sooner!
Compost Tea Ingredients
- commercial or home made chicken manure
- steer manure
- worm castings
- alfalfa pellets
- horse manure – this is one time you can safely use fresh manure of any kind
- weeds – leave these to shrivel first.
- small amount of molasses to feed the micro herd.
Put the ‘tea leaves’ (your ingredients) in a burlap bag, or a nylon stocking. If you use the commercially bagged chicken or steer manure, simply poke holes in the plastic bag.
Either way, the important thing is to allow water to flow through the bag yet keep the larger particles from floating loose. This prevents it from clogging when you use a watering can with a rose to water it.
Brew your tea for over a week before you use it – be prepared for an odour. Luckily, the smell will dissipate in time.
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Using Compost Tea for Fertilizing your Succulents
Some gardeners use resulting tea straight, with no apparent complications. However, if you do this on a garden which has little to no microfauna in the soil, it may cause problems with the plants being unable to utilize the nutrients.
It’s never been more true that to feed the plants you must first feed the soil herd.
The recommendations are that you dilute the tea 10:1, meaning for each cup or measurement of brewed tea, use 10 times that amount of water.
- Water new plantings to get them off to a good start.
- Dip the roots of transplants before planting.
- Water all succulent plants with a dilute brew after you water or get a good rainfall.
- Sprinkle compost tea on slow compost piles as a compost activator.
You can add more water to your garbage can and keep brewing until the bag of compost or manure is exhausted of its nutrients.
Then put the exhausted bag on – where else? The compost pile.
Utilizing compost tea is completely sustainable and meshes perfectly with other strategies in your organic xeric garden.
Compost tea made with unsterilized ingredients should only be used outdoors.