I am a local professional horticulturist who loves to share unique blogs with my community! Owner of a local lawn and landscape company who is working on “Going Green” and educating our locals in my surrounding cities.
As gardeners begin to look for natural and organic ways to promote plant productivity and health, more are turning to compost tea. By now, everyone knows about the benefits of having and using a backyard compost pile, but, you can take that idea one step further. Transform nutrient rich compost from a solid, into a liquid form. According to the University of Connecticut’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, there is an equivalent amount of aerobic bacteria and fungi in a 5 gal batch of aerated tea a there is in about 40 cubic yards of regular compost. Powerful Stuff!
Understand that this is not simply a shovel full of compost placed in a bucket adding water and letting the mix step for a couple days. Although, this is not a bad idea, it is merely a watery compost extract. Compost tea is actually brewed under conditions referred to as “actively aerated compost tea” (AACT). When this brewed compost tea is added to plants, it can boost overall plant heath, and can be more able to resist pests and disease.
How is compost tea made? During the 2013 season at Beautiful Blooms, we brewed 25 gallons per day, with a large tea brewer made specifically for this purpose. This season, (2014) we will be brewing 250 gallons per day- with a much larger tea brewer! Here is the basic idea: First, the compost is placed in a large, fine meshed “tea bag”. Next, the tea gets aerated, as well as mixed and stirred at the same time. (Remember, the tea can only be as good as the starting materials; always use the most nutrient rich compost you can find, whether it is from you own compost pile or a bag purchased from the store.) The best teas are brewed for 12-24 hours, and used within 6-8 hours of completion of brewing. Typically, you can hold on to it for up to 24 hours, but the longer you wait, the less effective it is likely to become. Compost tea is filled with living organisms (bacteria, fungi, nematodes) that survive off of the nutrients, and need air. The longer you let the tea sit, the quicker its beneficial organisms will dissipate. While compost tea does contain nutrients and micronutrients, we like to think of it as a soil amendment, rather than a fertilizer. Tea should be used in conjunction with other organic gardening practices. When used on a regular basis, tea can fight disease, improve and strengthen poor soil.
Last season at Beautiful Blooms, we had roughly 10 customers who have asked us to add compost tea applications to their routine maintenance contracts. Every one of them has been pleasantly surprised with the positive results the tea has made on their new or distressed plants and trees. I, myself have taken a sample home for my new plantings and have been amazed at how strong my veggie plants and flowers/shrubs have grown in a short period of time (as opposed to simply just watering them).
Compost tea is a safe, organic choice for your garden; consider adding it to your garden maintenance and you will be glad you did. And so will your plants! If your favorite plant in the garden is suddenly not looking as brilliant as it once was, and would like more information on our compost tea (and/or tea applications to your landscape), do not hesitate to contact us. We are more than happy to answer whatever questions you may have.
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