Compost Tea

Abilene, TX(Zone 7b)

I've seen a couple of sights that say you have to have an aquarium pump to make compost tea and I've seen a couple of sights that said you didn't. I've also been told that if the tea smells bad, don't use it. So what's the consensus on both questions? I tried making it without the areator, but it smells pretty bad. I won't use it until I get some imput. Thanks.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Pretty much the same answer as what we were saying on the recent MANURE TEA thread.
Both teas are better if fresh, aerated, not stinky, not strong. I think Soferdig suggested the best way is just use a small amount of compost/ manure, stir in a bucket to make an iced tea colored water, and use it soon. A weak tea like that won't hurt anything and is good for about everything.

Some sites have old information, some writers use old references...

Too much compost in a bucket of water, with NO aeration, grows nasty stinky bacteria. Like the bottom of a muddy pond. Aeration helps grow good organisms.

Abilene, TX(Zone 7b)

Thanks sallyg.

Danville, IN(Zone 5b)

Never heard that...I compost tea, coffee, anything and everything (except meat and bones)
I put everything in a bucket and dump once a week....

I'd be interested in what others had to say on the subject though...

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Tea that you drink, and teabags, are perfectly fine going straight into a plant or compost bin.

If we're talking about an item called "compost tea", that is a recognized term for a liquid extract that's made from compost.

With cold weather I may also put a covered bucket close to the door for my daily kitchen junk, and take it to the bin weekly or when full.

Danville, IN(Zone 5b)

I'm with you Sally. My body gets a bit stiff with this cold and I do well to make my weekly trips out to the pile.
I have two buckets at the moment because I use about a bucket and a half a week. I had my son come over and mow up my leaves and bag them to I would have something to cover it with....especially with the weather turning cold like this.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I never underastood the vlaue of making compost tea or manure tea.

Why not just spread the soild compost or manure right on the spot, and let rain or watering carry the "tea" directly from the compost or manure into the soil, along with all the organic matter?

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Good point, for the general garden.
For potted plants the tea sounds useful.

Aerobically "brewed " teas are said to multiply the good organisms.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> For potted plants the tea sounds useful.

I hadn't thought of that. Yeah, a shovelfull of manure or compost on top of a houseplant would NOT be a very good plan!

>> Aerobically "brewed " teas are said to multiply the good organisms.

I hadn't thought of that either. The closest I've done is to take soil from a healthy established bed with fairly rich organic soil, and "innoculate" new beds.

Hmm, maybe I should bubble some air through a slurry from my best bed, and pour that on both beds and compost heaps.

The one heap that was doing well seems to have exhausted it's food and died down to no activity.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

We used to have an active member who was expert in aerobic teas. There are old threads, at least one shows his bubbler design. It was a very powerful aeration. And it didn't go on indefinitely, because the nutrients would get used up. You might be able to search old threads and see it.

My rainwater buckets have had leaves fall in them and are a dark tea color. I'd love to know what sort of nutrient content is in there.

Sacramento, CA(Zone 9a)

There's a lot of info out there that suggests compost tea might not be as beneficial as we all think. The Garden Professors' web site just added a new posting on the subject.

Interesting findings from the study suggest that aerobic tea is inferior to fertilizer in terms of increasing microbial biomass. The study also found that compost tea only contains a fraction of the nutrients that good old compost has. On the plus side, they think compost tea may help poor soils retain more nitrogen.

Provo, UT(Zone 5a)

much thanks gardensox.. read and posted on site..i asked if in this article and if there are any thoughts
on worm casting tea.. areobic/anerobic..
what do u all think??
i have found it helpful last couple yrs using an addition to my compost/castings tea of kelp/fulvic/humic
love to see an active discussion on this.. both personal experiences and any academic studies ..
much thanks..

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Good link. Leads us back to RickCorey;s point, if possible put the compost on and skip the extra work of tea making.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Or maybe, just guessing, each is good for a different thing:

Manure & compost add bulk organic matter effectively and easily. This OM feeds the worms and any existing microbes including fungus. They do need food, as well as water and air. It does also add a little NPK etc.

Maybe the aerated tea (which I am now thinking of as "like yogurt" or "active cultures") is more for adding lots of variety and quantity of actively growing microbes to soil that may be new, raw and sterile, or old, exhausted and underpopulated ... or "bad soil" that has had the wrong things multiplying in it.

I'm just guessing here.

Whenever a question is posed as "either / or", or "which-one-is-best?", my first guess tends to be "BOTH!" or "It depends".

"Go not to the Elves for advice, for they will say both 'yes' and 'no."

Danville, IN(Zone 5b)

I compost everything....except meat and bones....but everything else that is scraps of food or plants....anything I get my hands on. When I got the internet it was then I found out I have been doing it wrong for several decades...or so the internet said....but it has always worked for me....and those before I guess I will just keep doing what I have been all these years :)

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Sounds good to me! Mother Nature composts everything too, and it seems to work out for her.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

With compost, the only "wrong way" would be if you were getting annoying smells or attracting anumals.

And you can usually cure smell by adding more "browns" like paper or cardboard, and aerating better, or watering less.

I have even added some small amounts of meat from time to time: uneaten cat food, and overage hot dogs. I just bury them in the center, and never add a lot at any one time. And my pile is small and slow.

I think the compost "experts" and those with big heaps or fancy containers mainly gain speed.

"Pile it up and wait, turning it somewhat every few weeks" works well enough for me, thoguh I can only harvest it 1-2 times per year.

Danville, IN(Zone 5b)

Same here Rick...I always keep more than one pile going and alternate each year lol. When I dump in food scraps I always cover it with whatever is on hand....summer is grass clippings and fall, the leaves. I assume that is why I have never had a problem with smell or critters.
I do have a problem with critters in the garden though...but it's ok....I share;)

Provo, UT(Zone 5a)

i too make my compost in piles..i know can get the compost faster
with bins,and other methods..
i get 2 finished composts a yr.which does me fine..
i do make compost/manure tea..
i use 55 gal plastic garbage cans..
i mix compost and rabbit manure and fill can with
my plants seem to love it..:)
its feeling "sort of" like spring here
yea !!!!

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I just thought of something.

If you compost continuously, why does it matter how fast it breaks down? The same amount of organic matter is going to flow through your "pipeline" over the next 5 years. The only difference is that a fast-composter gets each batch of his or her compost a few months earlier than slow-composters. Does that make sense?

Each year you would produce the same amount of compost: equal to the amount of raw materials you put in 4, 6, 10, 15 moths ago, depending on how fast it broke down. (Well, maybe 1/4 or 1/5th as big a heap as you put in, since it does copmpact a lot.)

The only difference I can think of is that a slow-poke like me would need large piles sitting around for a long time, to get the same amount of finished compost that a fast-burning compost cooker could produce in the same time.

However, for me, the limit isn't how big an area I can dedicate, it is how much raw material I can get my hands on. In the long run, that defines how much compost I can make, not how fast I can turn it around.

Am I missing something? True, a "hot-composter" destroys more weed seeds, and perhaps can compost a wider range of things without risking attracting animals.

Provo, UT(Zone 5a)

i think same with ya rick..
i have plenty of room here.. my limiting factor is getting enough straw..
i can go thru 50 bales a yr easy..
ive collected leaves every fall now for yrs.. 300 bags..i mow them down
they compost easier..
and i use mostly rabbit manure anymore..
nice thing is i dont end up with weeds like when i use horse manure..
i also sheet compost in the fall.. i spread manure,shredded leaves,straw over the
vegy garden..have kids spade it under..let nature do its thing.. by time im ready
to plant..soil is ready too..

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Agreed w Ric.
However I am space limited so the longer it takes the bigger space I have to devote, to get the same production. I deal with space limits a little
1 by rotating pile location, so that squash can be planted on last falls' leaf pile, then something else the yaar after when that has mostly broken down.
2 by layering on existing beds liketropicalnut

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> squash can be planted on last falls' leaf pile,

Cute! Growing a crop on "in-process" compost materials.

I think that "hugelculture" is similar. The rotting wood lays uinder a thin layer of soil or good compost, and roots get some vlaue from the wood WHILE it rots. And the wood holds water meanwhile.

I know a lot of people sheet compost, but somehow I got the iodea into my mind that I should grow in "raw compost". Obviously I;m wrong, but changing my mind is a little like telling the tide to go back out. I'm still working on it!

Actually, I have so little raw material for compost there's no way I would squander it as mulch, or sheet compost either. I add it all to my little compost heap to feed to worms and bugs, and then I cheer it on.

This year I'm bemused by all the rotted snow pea pods that sprout just fine. Big FAT pea seedlings everywhere therough the heap. Oh, well, hopefully this batch will be rich in mycorhyzzia and even nitrogen-fixers.

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