I saw a program this morning that showed some great results for plant and foliage fertilizer that used compost tea. I would like to try this, but would like to know if any of you have ever made this and what procedure did you use.
I looked up some info on making it, and they say to use a small pump to aerate the tea for 24-48 hrs. and to add some unsulfured molasses also. You can just let it steep for 5-7 days also, but the bacteria isn't as good.
Sure would like some input on doing this, especially for foliage protection from bugs. What I read was that it really helps your foliage, like a suncreen for bugs and then also all the nutrients go straight into the soil.
I put 3-4 shovels of compost into a burlap bag.
Fill a 20-30 gallon garbage can with water, place the bag in the can, cover and let sit a sunny place for a week.
Remove the bag and use it to water you plants.
It works great.
I am going to try the procedure in a 5 gal. bucket with an air pump. I'll let you know how it comes out. I think my plants are getting excited, they heard me talking about doing this while I was tending them today. hehe
My tea is wonderful and I have been making it on a constant basis every week. It smells so organic when it's finished. Here is what I have been using:
5 gal. bucket w/declorinated water about 6' from the top.
4-5 good cups of compost
2 T. molasses
2 T. corn meal
1 cup shredded Alfalfa.
I use a fish tank pump for 20-60 gals. and have 4 lines going into the water. I let this work for at least 2-3 days. It gets a nice foamy top and starts to have a yeasty smell, then it's ready. I then mix it 2 or 3 to 1 ratio, with declorinated water, depending on where I put it in the garden. If the plants are well established I use the stronger ratio, or if the plants are still new, use the weaker ratio. I then use what little compost is left from the bottom and put it back into the compost bin or spread it around my plants. There is a lot of microherd in these dredges, so putting it back into the compost really gets the compost moving faster. You can almost see the shimmering of all the activity within hours of putting it on top of the compost heap.
I really recommend this procedure. It is easy, cheap to make and all organic. You don't get the salt build up of the synthetic fertilizers this way either.
Here is a picture I just took of my tea. It is finished and I have already used some this morning. The foam was thicker last night, so this morning it was ready to use.
If you or anyone else has any questions, feel free to ask. I am not a pro yet, but I know what is working for me.
I really don't "make" compost tea as I use a rolling composter that sits on top of a foot where the tea that is created during the composting is captured. This is a very strong tea that I dilute to the color of weak tea. See Pic below. (The only problem I had with this model is the cap you would open to remove the tea leaked. I had to replace it with a metal one.)
Paulgrow, Check your nursuries, and any feed stores in your area. You should be able to find alfala without any problems.
Hi there Olds, that's a niftly looking tumbler and it makes it's own tea also. I have been making about 2 batches a week and love this stuff...in fact my family now asks me if they can have some once in a while. lol
Carena, it is really simple, I promise. If you have any questions, just ask.
A NYorker, thanks for the links. I looked through the Soil Soup one and couldn't believe they are charging over $300 for the setup.
Why go with the $300.00 job when you can step up to the pump and have that 25 gallon jobie! Only $499.00! What a deal I think I will get a couple! J/K of course.
EDIT: One thing I do from time to time is make fish/compost tea! I can get fresh mullet for 99 cent per pound. I grind it up into a very fine goo. Put that into an old panty hose. Place it into 10 gal container along with a bag of compost. Now I soak them in water until the fish is more than ripe. I'm mean to tell ya my wife threatens to move to my mother's it so strong smelling!
I just put a couple shovelsful of the mulch/compost from the fair grounds or neighbors stable in a 5 gallon pail, fill with well water and let it stand for a few days. Then dilute it to the color of tea and apply to plants. After about the 3rd time I add the solids to the compost pile or put them at the base of some plant to keep soil temp and moisture even.
I make compost tea just as leaflady does and it seems to work well. I never thought of dechlorinating water first - probably a very good idea. When I have worm castings from my vermicomposting (yes, my friends call me a freak...but they don't garden, so who's the freak??) I use that too, to make a super rich drink for my garden when things are blooming heavily, like in the summertime.
After reading this, I'm convinced I need to be making compost tea for my garden next season. I've been thinking about it for a long time, it's time to quit thinking and do. I'm going to get DH to run electric out to the old chicken house so I can run the pumps from there. Thanks for all the great ideas on how to personalize this for my use.
I don't know if it would have any benefits for orchids. The tea has little micronutrients that feed in soil, and since the orchids are planted in bark, I don't know what they would live on. You could try it, but I really can't answer that question for you. If you find out, let us know, ok?
Well, I've started my tea. The weather was warming nicely and now we are going to be cold for several days again. I'm sure it is not going to brew like it would if it remained warm. Is the foam an indicator of microbiological activity?
I'm really looking forward to using this all growing season on my plants.
Oh boy another tea maker. Yes, the foam is a good thing and it will start to deminish when it's done. I have my tea brewing in my garage and it's not real warm in there, so I don't think warmth has anything to do with making the tea. It's all up to the little micro guys.
It shouldn't have taken so long. You could have used it after 3-4 days. Having the foam is not important.
Yes, you have to dilute it or it will burn your roots. I have read several forums regarding how much to dilute it. I've been using it about a 4 to 1 ratio. 4 pts. dechlorinated water to 1 pt tea. If you have any rainwater, that is the best.
I just figured the little microbes were on strike cause it was so cool here. I have a barrel of rainwater that I will mix with my tea and apply it to my plants yet this week if at all possible, especially my lilies and roses!
How long can you store this stuff before you use it? I don't have a lot of plants up and growing yet. Sorry to be such a pain.
I wouldn't store it at all. It will start getting a little stinky...phew!!
You don't have to use this on just your growing plants. This stuff will make your soil rich with nutrients, so if your plants are still in the ground, or your going to be putting some in soon, the soil will be ready for it. That's why I try to have a batch going constantly, just keep sprinkling your soil.
The International Compost Tea Council link cited above, [HYPERLINK@www.intlctc.org] asserts that compost brewed in solution doesn't contain many microorganisms and therefore misses most of the benefit of Compost Tea. Given the upbeat reports of many of you, it would seem that your home methods are plenty good. Comments?
I have read a lot of information, but I am still not a pro at it.
I can answer some of your questions.
Why do you use a pump/bubbler?
Recent research indicates that using some kind of aereation and adding a sugar source (unsulphered molasses works well) results in an excellent product that extrcts the maximum number of benificial organisms. This aereation is crucial to the formation of benefical bacteria and the required fermentation process.
How does compost tea differ from alfalfa tea, that is... what additional nutrients does compost tea add?
I haven't tried the alfalfa tea yet, but there are lots and lots of micro organisms in your compost that help in the soil, whereas there aren't any in the alfalfa alone.Compost Tea is a nutritionally rich, well-balanced, organic supplement.
What does the corn meal do?
The corn meal is also a feed for the miro heard to feast on as they become active.
I've read that if you sprinkle the tea on a plant and theoil is bare of any thing they can eat, you can also sprinkle some corn meal around the soil area, and this will keep the micro herd happy and feed the soil.
Hate to see this forum close. I have a large ComposTumbler, the kind that you crank everday. I use all of my grass clippings and dead leaves as well as kitchen scraps and chicken droppings. The extract is an excellent thick black tea when diluted 10:1 with water provides all the "excellent stuff" my garden and lawn needs. I use a garden hose sprayer and haven't had to buy any store bought fertilizer in over a year. Of course I also use alot of organic ammendments to the soil. What was once sterile, hardpan, compacted soil is now full of earthworms and will grow just about anything. Any comments ?
I did something new this year for making compost tea. I cut the legs from
a pair of pantie hose, then filled them with composted manure. This method strains the compost and makes it easier on my little pump. I tie one of the legs to the handle of my 5gl bucket and just move the leg up and down once a day. I am also going to use Donna's recipe. prcastle
Compost tea isn't exactly "tea." Of course, any organic material you add to the soil is beneficial. A few tea leaves certainly won't hurt. If your only using small amounts, try the coffee grounds. They are better and also toxic to snails.
Compost tea is actually the liquid runoff from decomposing organic material such as grass clippings and vegetable table scraps.
"Compost tea is actually the liquid runoff from decomposing organic material such as grass clippings and vegetable table scraps."
Actually, nadabigfarm, that is the description of "compost leach", not tea. Compost tea is usually brewed/aerated and utilizes the aerobic bacterias in the process. Compost "leach" is considered what you described above OR can also be made simply by putting a given amount in a bucket of water and allowing it to steep (minus the aeration pumps). To me, I've had great results over the years using both methods. (However, making compost tea is much more "funner" to me!) :>)
Great stuff, I'm gonna try this.
Does it matter what time of year you use this on your plants or ground.
Was thinking of preping an area for spring planting ... which here in Fl is very soon. We are still going to have some cold nights will this affect the compost tea spread on the ground?
I'm pretty sure you'll have no problem applying this any time of year. Since it is not a "blooming" type fertilizer, it should work fine. This tea gives your plants food to live and adds microbes to your soil. Let us know how your doing with it. :-)
This is a pretty good discussion with but a few little matters that may help you understand the purpose and make up of aerobic tea.
One simple fact...you are expanding the entire mycro-herd that is your living compost. At the very best that will be all kinds of bacteria, fungi and critters from amoeba to nematodes. Of course if any of these elements are not in your compost it can not be expanded. The aerobic part supplys the oxygen for this expansion. I find the best temperature to be seventy six degrees. There should be no NPK in properly finished aerobic tea. The basic minerals and trace minerals will ride along in minor amounts but can not be expanded. They are insignificant in the process.
I suggest you purchase compost of proven quality made specifically for aerobic tea. One source is North Country Organics. From this high quality base you can innoculate your garden and compost piles. Your piles after you use just one bag will then contain a complete mycro-herd from which your local compost will then equal or better the purchased compost.
The value of aerobic tea is two fold. One the living biology will when properly placed occupy and continue exansion on your living plants thereby leaving no space for the bad guys to get a foothold. Secondly and more important the mycro-herd goes to work converting the organic matter in your soil to compost, humus, humic acids and beyond before your plants can ingest them.
Every maker's tea will be somewhat different than everyone else's tea. It is not rocket science. I have only hoped to help you understand the aerobic tea basics.
If you enter into this world of letting the health of your soil up to the aerobic tea process it makes absolutely no sense at all to use manufactred fertilizer because they will hurt or actually kill the very biology you are attempting to build. You would also think accordingly about synthetic manufactured herbacides, insecticided and fungicides.
You are all to be complimented. Keep working at it as you can. Expect immediate results at the lower levels or during even the first year. After three years of trusting your system of organic building you will see astonishing improvements in appearance as well as shape and quality of food items you may grow. Expect change while trusting your system.
After four year of trusting and building my soil with aerobic teas and organic fertilizers my giant pumpkins have increased a minimum of fifty pounds a year. While not earth shaking I have moved from 400 lbs to 763 lbs and we are not done improving. The world record is twice my success and more. The last five world record pumpkins have been growen in healthy soil heavily into the organic principles. The principals are learning.
My giant long gourds moved from forty four inches to ninety eight inches long.
Docgipe, thanks for the picture, and for the encouragement. I have a pile that is 2 years old, but I've never turned it. It's made totally of leaves, and it has NOT broken down. I am going to try using your instruction.
I didn't like having to strain my aerated compost tea after it was finished, and the burlap sacks holes were too big, the cheese cloth too flimsy and the panty hose too small, so I made a bag out of a 25 inch square of fine tulle mesh fabric, and it works great.
When you are done, just pull the bag out and it is already filtered.
The materials in the bag i use to mulch plants that need it.
Frost, I just happen to have some nice pink tulle from the wedding my daughter cancelled at the last minute (thank goodness!). I'm sure the neighbors will add that to the list of crazy things I do in the yard, haha.
OK...I have grown half a dozen giant pumpkins. Those that saw fit to finish healthy made it to the sculpting table with some sort of a charity benefit tied into the activity. After carving and sculpting they last about two weeks after which the are in my case returned to the compost pile. Mostly I want to keep the seed to barter with. As someone mentioned...I want the bragging rights too. :)
Like many huge things giant pumkins make good food for cows. If grown in healthy soil they are fine to eat but if one wants to eat pumpkin I certainly do suggest "LIBYS" or pie pumpkins from seed with proven quality to be eaten.
The gourds harden in the drying process. There is no real use for long gourds that is anything short of nuts. One friend of mine put one to a bandsaw after which he built a gourd spouting for his garden shed. Other gourds make bird houses, bowls, spoons, dippers and even musical instruments. In the hands of a good artist they may carry very interesting burned, stained and carved designs. There is quite an industry wrapped around the gourds.
Most competitive growers go to a once a year weigh off which is an independant gathering of giant growers where a certified scale is the crier of all truths or the tape measure measures the real measurements. There are regional weigh offs all tied together by computer so that over about three weeks each years records are posted on the parent organization web site. This is an international organization. The computer has brought most of us all together. We have a saying, " the BS stops when the tail gate drops".
There is an international gathering at Niagra Falls Canada side each spring. The best of the best and anyone with the bucks goes to kick up the heels and jaw bone with the best growers in the world. An Orange Jacket goes to the record pumpkin weight of the year while a Green Jacket goes to the record squash grower of the year. These are extreme quality tailored to the winner jackets. After a few long neckers the records tend to get a bit twisted...but this is the kick off of a new season. Those twisted reports and projections are just grower estimates for the new year. :)
The major cash prize distribution happens at the regional weigh offs. From one to three thousand bucks or more goes to the largest pumpkin. They pay out ten deep for Pumpkins, Squash, Tomatoes, Long Gourd, Onions Watermellon and each have a few categories that others do not honor. These weigh offs are sometimes followed...next day by a pumpkin regatta on the local lake or river. Again there are regional prizes, cash and trophy related to the regatta. There are two categories...paddle power and motorized. These events are growing into an absolute riot.
Wives and girl friends often come up with creative clothing for these events. Note my low ego smock.
HEY...GUYS AND GALS!!! Pennsylvania and Oregon or Washington have female world champions from days gone by. Lots of gals attempt to grow the elusive 2000 lb. one ton pumpkin. Lots of bucks out there for the first one tone pumpkin.
absolutely fascinating thread. Docgipe: is there suggested reading on the aerobic tea process by the guy who grows pumpkins the size of my garden shed? How inspiring all this is. thanks "A TON". ~ shawna
After reading about compost tea and all it's benefits I am left puzzled and perplexed.
I believe it works and the people here that use it are terrific for sharing their personal experiences and experiments with us BUT... I am still confused! ( unfortunately this is normal for me)
In composting we are told to keep our piles damply wet to encourage Aerobic Microbes but not too wet to discourage Anaerobic Microbes. By putting the compost into a tea aren't we doing just the opposite, killing aerobics and encouraging anaerobics. And aren't the anerobics the ones that sour the soil and cause root fungus and rot?
I have been thinking about it and am confusing myself more and more. My Darlin' keeps telling me to knock it off but this goofy brain just won't let it go!
So, can anyone explain this in a compost tea for dummies format?
For those that may be confused. That's about normal because tea terms seem to be badly mixed and mis-used.
...Here is my effort at Teas 101. I will use as much KISMIF as is possible. "Keep It Simple Make It Fun"
Let us begin in the cold of the winter when the early cave men took as few steps away from the cave entrance to relieve themselves as was the practice of the day. Later in the early spring they could not help but notice the plants in and near that spot grew super good. Those who had boss women walked a bit further into the woods. Their discovery was a spot here and a spot there with better than average spring plant growth. As they grew out of the hunter stage into the planter stages they began saving all animal manures including their own. It became the talk of the early man that the lazy ones with less or no manures in their soil grew smaller and less tasty plants and fruits and nuts. Getting right down to the facts that was the first known example of 14% nitrogen "Pee Tea".
Befor you laugh the lazy ones discovered that few or no weeds grew through their piles of plant materials so they became the first mulchers. In grunting but clear language they discovered that mulch remains mulch until it becomes soil (they knew nothing of a term called compost) We know if something rots and converts in or into the soil all the following growth from that spot will be better than any previous growth. The biology of the soil and the plant itself turns all into some form of compost. There is always a mini compost pile even under a single leaf and the soil contains the biology to cause it to rot and become compost.
Mother nature give us water or we use her stored supply to bring about dilution of any tea or the creation of aerobic tea.
From this you may safely deduct that tea can be made from anything that once lived. Termology helps if we say we made manure tea, onion and comfrey tea and such. That way the reader understands where you are coming from. I know of no plant that can not be used. I hope you understand that the use of poison ivy plant material may not be a good idea. It will however rot and cares not that you hosted it for awhile along the way. Once completely converted to humus there is excellent ballance where the good guys rule the biology.
The natural progression from living "anything" including animals is conversion by biology in the soil or compost pile is using oxygen and water to creat rot. Humus is the second stage of conversion followd by humic acid still being created by your biology and even more breakdown
before our new plant life can uptake the nutrients into new growth and fruit or nuts. We say a compost pile is finished when there are no pieces large enough to determine from where it came.
Good compost when started should contain manures, trace minerals, living and dead plants plus a small amount of your soil to innoculate your pile with the biology of your native soil. When this pile converts to humis you have the good stuff.
Excellent compost tea can be made only by using excellent compost. You have heard the phrase...can't get blood out of a turnip ! This is so true.
It is important to understand that all matter in all compost would have converted where it fell to mother earth with or without your help. You get a tea quality in direct relationship to your skill at developing finished compost.
This tea or tea anywhere along the way is good. The point is we generally want the best for our use faster!
There is nothing wrong with any tea from any source. We have however learned that the tea gets better as it is made with better and further converted plant material we call compost.
So what is this aeroboic tea process. Simply take finished compost and pump your water up to the saturation point with oxygen at seventy six degrees. This enables the biology to expand by tens, hundreds or thousand folds the basic life found in your compost. There is no NPK in well made aerobic tea. You are greatly increasing your living biology which now does not have to be developed in your soil. You dump it into your soil where it immediately goes to work converting your organic content and humus into that which is ready for the growing plant to use.
The only way you can see this happen is to have two thousand or so bucks in a scope. There you could see the living bacteria, fungi and critters from amoeba to neematodes. Without the scope...like most of us you have to look at your garden results and gunt to your friends..."umph plant there good".
Hey there are writers who can dump a bunch of fancy words some don't even understand. They hate to admit it but they too are just a few steps away from the cave door. Some of those writers pee off the end of the patio deck. Many of them have not re-discovered..."grumph good there". Yet the tell us how to poison the very biology we need to improve our soils.
Organic principles are now everywhere on the net. Google will keep any interested person busy up to their last breath. Speaking of the last breath...the biology will clean up that once living matter too. It shall come to pass with or without any fancy words for the process.
To my newfound Texas friends. You have a writer published by the University of Texas in whom I trust and have learned from. At this moment I forget his name but he has written several books...all with organic base and principles. No doubt some of the above has been influenced by him as I read and re-read his book..."Dear Plant Doctor" or something real close to that title. He used to be on your radio talk shows and years ago had a great web page.
The name Garrett is coming up out of the dust. That may not be correct. :) If you can identify this writer the folks here might enjoy his writing.
Someone ask for a link to the master giant pumpkin growers. Hopefully without chip on shoulder humbly said, "I am one of the most vocal links because I have used these principles and techniques before most of the principals of this day were born".
KISMIF is something I try to live...keep it simple make ot fun. We all at least on this side of the pond seem to work so hard at anything to make it hard or confusing. Combined with wanting everything yesterday we tend to get all tensed up. I have come to realize that the biology we speak of here will get the last bite of me so I sure do wish to speak nicely about them. :)
Docgipe, I am going into the mix sooner than most and I just love that long post which will apply to my return to the great mix and I wish I could have said it so well. My compliments to you.
Carol, your post and at least one other more than paid the bill for any time this brief discussion may have taken.
For you all there is one statement: coffee is on. We shall break bread and jaw bone a spell if you wish. My little half acre is most interesting. It becomes more interesting only if others are here to enjoy it. I have never had anyone stop by that did not improve the place the minute they stepped aboard.
A little bit more on teas. We tend to blindly follow the leader trying to emulate what ever he or she might indicate is the practice of the day. The use of tea in the garden has no exception. Presently the rage is the use of Soil Soup. The had not the decency to call it what it was...namely earthworm casting aerobic tea. A few huge world records have been grown under management that claims high marks for earth worm casting tea.
In my humble opinion good quality compost tea has a percentage of earthworm casts in it naturally. When you make aerobic compost tea all of the living biology clear up to nematodes will be expanded greatly. If making aerobic tea then I have just one question. Why would you use inferior earthworm cast tea when good compost tea contains all of the above? You could of course add a cup of earthworm casts to the compost base if you wish. This is just food for thought.
I have found that my cost per gallon of finished aerobic tea from my own compost and purchased worm casts figures to be about eight or nine cents a gallon. This does not account for the initial cost of equipment. However I make thirty five to forty gallons a week to spray all over my gardens and yard nearly eliminating all other fertilizer costs. In less than a years time the cost of the system has been paid for with moneys previously spent on organic fertilizer. I still use some from time to time but about two thirds less than before I started using the teas.
New equipment is always showing up on the marketplace. I do not think anyone has yet bettered the Bobolator brewer. You can see and read about the Bobolator on the North Country Organics web site. Inexpensive to build, highy efficient, easy to clean. Average brew will be done at 80 degrees in about 18 hours. You of course can purchase it there too. From all that I have seen no one has come up with a better one as of this day.
I still use some organic fertilizer up to about a third of what I used to use. This is in tune with the use of Endo Mycorrhize in my gardens and patches. Some trees and shrubs need another type of mycorrhize explained on their web sites.
In order for this to make a good and complete package the organic content of the patch being treated should be five percent or better. You must have food for the biology you create and place on or into the patches. A small amount of molasses in the tea brew is only to maintain the biology in the tea brewer.
If you add manures, leaves, trace minerals and a cover crop you will have more than enough food for any amount of tea you give to your patches.
I'd love to turn leaves into my garden right now (ground has been broken for weeks and it is "resting") but I'm not sure the leaves would be broken down enough by planting time. I wonder, should that be the case, if using tea on a regular schedule would help the plants along while the leaves continue to decompose. (And hoping the decomposition doesn't create too much heat nor tie up ALL the food/nitrogen!)
Shoe...in NC you have to call the shots. I can tell you this...in the Northeast we can turn leaves under in late October and early September where in they will decompose by the following spring.
Remember two or three year old manure can be added in early spring or literally anytime but fresh should be reserved for fall placement. Again I am speaking as a Northeasterner. With fall placement we are talking seven months of time for breakdown to transpire into spring.
You could make your garden per usual and mulch with leaves leading into turning them under next fall. That would be a safe way for sure. You could grind and use some leaves into a small part of your patch for your observation. That way you don't have a big problem with not enough time for breakdown.
Glad to hear you are getting ready to rumble. It seems to me you have a pretty good handle on the healthy patch practices. I see nothing but improved soil conditions in your future. You seem to be settled in your considerations and not into any quick knee jerks just because someone promised unrealistic results from some magic in a bottle or bag. We see our pathes get better as we work with our modest changes and improvements over the years.
Well, I've been settled into my "considerations" for 24 years (when I started this farm) and pretty much "all my life, so far" in the years before! Years ago I was the "weirdo organic hippie" that was pretty much pooh-poohed by the locals but over time they came around. Fortunately my younger years of growing up not using 10-10-10 and such but having to rely on our "farm products" for garden amendments tells me my GrandFather either knew what he was doing, read J.R. Rodale, or that we were too poor to buy chemical fertilizers! Most likely all three of those! As for me, I only discovered we were growing "organic" many years later.
I've only been brewing tea for the past 5 years though. Before that I relied on compost "leach" as well as weed leach, both working mighty fine (and I still use) but I can tell a difference in the aerated tea (plus it goes much farther, it seems!)
Shoe...this 'ole doc has been at it for more than fifty years. I say I am 98% organic and the other two percent I either do not know about or on rare occasions I might be inclined to lie about if some nit picker gets to bouncing me around.
I still put up with a few fruit trees. Growing just a few I know of no way to not use some spray material that may not be certified organic. Most fruit are a bit more difficult than all the rest of my growing plants including foundation plantings.
Healthy patch is a better term for me. Then if some eagle eye nit picker spots my last resort harsher treetment I am not trapped inside the word organic. I stand ready to learn but doubt that the years are left in a number giving me time to be totally organic. I could of course introduce the chain saw thereby getting down to crops that can be grown truely organic...by me.
I envy your early season that is just begining. I will not see much action for another month at least.
yep, I've been reading your posts since you came onsite last Fall. Good reading.
Ten-four on the fruit trees. I've chosen not to spray anything and it's gotten me some mighty lousy plums (curculio and branch scab) as well as apples so infested even the squirrels won't eat them. (Dang tree monkeys sure get more peaches than I do, though!)
I still have a few apple trees, a couple cherry, and some pear hanging in there but I foresee them going by in a few more years (except for the cherry, it is maintenance-free!).
What I've done is I now only do fruit trees that are no-maintenance or low-maintenance. Those, for me, include Serviceberry, blueberry, fig, and persimmon. We also have wild scuppernong grapes and an abundance of wild blackberry. I hope you can find a space for growing some of those. (I really recommend Sheng persimmon! Huge fruit and bears in only 3 years.)
Hey doc, I printed out the info on the bobolator again for DH. I want him to be able to ask you his questions directly at the RU. I'm over my head here with the technical part of it. You tell him, he can build us one...:) Works for me..
Dean W, compost "leach" is what most folks have inappropriately referred to over the past years as "tea". I was guilty of that faux pas myself!
"Leach" is when you simply put compost (or manure, or weeds) in a container, fill with water, and allow the nutrients to leach into the water, then dilute it (if you choose) and use it either as a drench or foliar spray.
"Tea" (nowadays) is usually referring to the same but you aerate the water, thereby encouraging aerobic life (versus anaerobic life when making leach) to grow/multiply in your solution, which in turn offers a wider range of benefits.
The leach system can often times be used immediately or can also be allowed to steep longer, depending on the strength you are looking for as well as what ingredients you are using. For many years I would put a shovel-full of compost (or aged manure) in a five gallon bucket, fill with water, and voila! (Over time that five gallon bucket turned into a 330 gallon tank and boy-howdy, the garden and myself were happy campers!!)
So far I tend to use a five gallon bucket for aerating tea as I can make five gallons go a long way and can easily make another batch within another day or so. I foresee using a 55 gallon drum though, at some point, and with the use of a soaker hose and my air compressor I'll be making enough tea in a single batch to cover quite an area of crops and bedding plants.
As far as weed leach, years ago I realized we tend to keep weeds out of our garden (for the most part) due to them competing with our preferred plants. Their habit of "stealing nutrients" is apparently a no-no! However, we also know that many weeds will pull up nutrients from farther down in the soil than our garden crops ever could. (As a quick aside, many cover crops will do the same; alfalfa immediately comes to mind as its roots will easily grow 12 ft deep and bring up nutrients from far below.)
Having worked with various weeds over the years at some point I picked the 3-5 best (for me) and tend to use those, Lambsquarters, Amaranthus, dock, and oftentimes plaintain and chickweed (early in the year). (Plaintain grows mostly in the surrounding garden area rather than in the garden but it is one of my favorite weeds; its personality is of the giving kind, or so it seems to me!) (And don't start me on plant personalities, some DGers know I'm bona fide "ain't right in the mind" when it comes to certain perspectives! *grin)
Thanks, Shoe, for the detailed explanation. I guess what I've been doing is the leach. I need to get some fish tank airators to make the tea. I used to make the weed leach myself, just with stinging nettle. Thanks for the link I'll be sure to read it.
Here's an often overlooked but important physical factor. To avoid internal build up of bad and dangerous materials at all times keep the discharge stones, hoses and piping under pressure when entering your brew tank and again when removing the equipment. Once you dunk stones or hoses or even piping there is hardly any way they can be perfectly cleaned. Anything less than perfectly clean is unacceptable.
The best brew is made at 80 degrees in a large bubble rolling action similar to boiling a pot full of large spuds. The smaller sizzling bubbles are abrasive to the biology in the opinion of most leaders in the field. The air bubbles do best when working their way up through the base materials instead of around a sock or a bag. Clean up is very important so bags and socks are not a good choice unless you start with new or boil and wash used materials every time. The Bobolator avoids all the undesirable situations and sends the bubbles up through the mass of brew base being used. It can be scrubbed down in ten minutes or less. There are no socks or bags. It produces in eighteen hours when all other conditions are right.
No pathegons can exist in the aerobic state. All the folks that have problems either do not in fact make the aerobic product, let it sit to long and return to anaerobic or operate with equipment that is loaded with patheogens from poor or no cleaning as is required after every brew.
Making the aerobic brew is very simple and safe every time following the instuctions for the Bobolator and using suggested materials followed by proper clean up.
The Bobolator can be seen and investigated on the site of North Country Organics. It has been years since I bought mine so you will have to talk to them for pricing. I have never had a single part of my system to need anything but regular cleaning. I use it at least every two weeks. It has paid for itself a hundred times over.
At one point I even produced and resold compost tea at our local farmer's market. Seventy gallons a week was a sell out. We nearly always sold out. I used a small generator to keep the aerobic condition right up to peak levels. I got generator noise complaints. The city wanted entirely to much flat rate for electric service. To avoid the grumbles I folded that activity. It was good pocket money or trade with some of the vendors. I was also a good bit younger than I find myself today. :)
Today I share with three close by neighbors who in different ways help me. I have a pumpkin growing buddy who gets a barrel full three times a year. He does some of my heavy work in exchange. Everyone who uses my tea or a similar brew is pleased in short order with patch improvement. I pretty much use the simple brew suggested on North Country Organics web site.
Dean...you have solved a riddle for me. I was informed that the Biti Bobolator was off the market. That is a half truth. Bob's Biti Brewer is if not the Biti Boboloator a splitting image of the Biti Bobolator. Anyone who effectively builds one will if contacting me by regular E receive my coaching for the inclusion of a small very excellent tweaked feature in the basic design. I see that Bob's Brewer has the same exact outside appearance of the Biti Bobolator which I bought five or six years ago. The fine print makes no difference...I believe he either stole the design or bought the rights to the Biti Bobolator and changed the name.
...I do not really care what the little secrets are. I believe this is the original Biti Bobolator. It is so much better than any other out there in the small size at least I shall now lead folks to this one. You can still see perhaps see better the next larger size called a Bobolator on North Country Organics web site. More than likely both sites will or would sell the compressor to a crafty builder. I know North Country Organics will!
...As for the other...it is using fish tank stones. Other leaders in the industry have said that if the oxygen is there to do the job the small bubbles are abrasive to the extent that the tests prove the issue. Yes the air stone systems increase the bacteria and fungi. Side by side tests will show that larger rolling bubbles throught the tower of the Biti Bobolator now called Bob's Brewer will give significantly better results from less base to the whole biological family from bacteria clear up to neematodes. If the proper amount of oxygen is going through both systems then the abrasive smaller bubbles theory is seemingly correct to my thinking. The well known Dr. Ingham's organization tested the Biti Bobolator and the Bobolator. The test marks were still on the North Country Organics web site.
I'm glad to see the Biti Bobolator is still on the market. It however, is still a little expensive for me. Thats why I wanted your opionion on the homemade version. I also found a website that talked about the size of the bubbles. The site I found escapes me now. The homemade version does recommend using a 60-gallon air bubbler for a 5-gallon bucket... I don't know if it makes that much difference.
I'm also intrested in the use of recipes. Iv'e read nearly everything being used in (ACCT) Actively Aerated Compost Teas. Here is a short list of item I read- Blood Meal, Corn Meal, Kelp Meal, Worm Castings, and aged compost of course.
There are no harmfull pathegons in aerobic tea. Wash the product as all should be washed or rinsed and you will be good to go immediately. The living biology is now and always has been in your soil. You only add to or ballance out your natural biology when you add aerobic tea from compost or earthworm castings. You of course have all that goes into compost including earthworm and other higher forms of biology pooping in the mix...all of which makes better compost and better tea.
The Bitti Bobolator is sold by Bob's Brewers. North Country Organics has a picture of the larger model at this site...http://www.norganics.com/BrwrMan.pdf...and lots of quality information.
Bob's Brewers has one exactly my size with compressor and all parts ready to go for $225.00. This Bobolator will make up to fifty gallons in eighteen hours at seventy six degrees. For most of us this is more than enough brewer size. We can innoculate our patches and the rest of our property too.
If you purchase the start up materials...compost, bacteria and fungi boosters and trace minerals from North Country Organics you can innoculate your own compost and soil with the best quality product. During the use of the start up materials the product will cost you about fifteen to twenty cents a gallon. After that maybe half or less because you will use your own.
I doubt very much if you can build your own for less because the quality compressor is more than half the cost of the package. Count in running about to gather up parts at today's cost this package looks really good to me.
If two gardeners went together I know this would be the way to go for sure.
I highly suggest you bite the bullet and purchase Bob's Bitti Brewer for $225.00 to avoid all the possibilities of not having a good system doing whatever you are doing now and having to go there for the best quality at sometime in the future. This brewer has all the problems worked out and proven. It is designed to last for years and years of use. It is easy to clean. All parts are available at your local hardware store or Lowe's type big box store in the event you should have an accident that breaks something.
As for me I'm still using a bucket, air stones, and an aquarium pump! Sure am looking at the Bobolater though and maybe one day that will be on the farm. (Am also still thinking of using a 55 gallon drum with a soaker hose and air compressor for making big batches, too! I tend to experiment a lot!)
Thanks for all the great info, Doc! Looking forward to more!