How do I make Compost Teas?
This is not for drinking but your plants will just love them. Basically there are 3 types of compost teas you can make and 3 methods you can use. Compost teas supply valuable soluble nutrients and bio-active compounds to your plants. Best of all they are completely organic and inexpensive.
Manure-based tea is a soluble nutrient source made from raw animal manure soaked in water. The manure is placed in a burlap sack and suspended in a barrel of water for 7 to 14 days. The primary benefit of the tea will be a supply of soluble nutrients, which can be used as a liquid fertilizer. You can also use compost to make a manure-based tea
Plant-based extracts are most commonly made from chamomile flowers, comfrey leaves, and yarrow leaves and flowers. A common method is to stuff a barrel about three-quarters full of fresh green plant material, then top off the barrel with tepid water. The tea is allowed to ferment at ambient temperatures for 3 to 10 days. The finished product is strained, then diluted in portions of 1:10 or 1:5 and used as a foliar spray or soil drench. Herbal teas provide a supply of soluble nutrients as well as bio-active plant compounds.
Liquid manures are a blend of marine products (local fish wastes, seaweed extract, kelp meal) and locally harvested herbs, soaked and fermented at ambient temperatures for 3 to 10 days. Liquid manures are prepared similarly to herbal tea – the material is fully immersed in the barrel during the fermenting period, then strained and diluted and used as a foliar spray or soil drench. Liquid manures supply soluble nutrients and bioactive compounds.
Passive compost tea is prepared by immersing a burlap sack filled with compost into a bucket or tank, stirring occasionally. Usually the brew time is longer, from 7 to 10 days. This is the method that dates back hundreds of years in Europe, and is more akin to a compost watery extract than a brewed and aerated compost tea.
The equipment setup and scale of production are similar to the bucket method, except that an aquarium-size pump and air bubbler are used in association with microbial food and catalyst sources added to the solution as an amendment. Since aeration is critical, as many as three sump pumps may be used in a bucket simultaneously.
With homemade compost tea brewing, a compost sock is commonly used as a filter-strainer. Ideally, the mesh size will strain compost particulate matter but still allow beneficial microbes including fungal hyphae and nematodes to migrate into solution. Single-strand mesh materials such as nylon stockings and laundry bags are some of the materials being used; fungal hyphae tend to get caught in polywoven fabrics. If burlap is used, it should be aged burlap.
Large-scale production of compost teas employs homemade tanks and pumps. An 8- or 12-inch-diameter PVC pipe is cut in half, drilled full of holes, and lined with burlap. Compost is placed in this makeshift trough. The PVC trough is supported above the tank, several feet in the air.
The tank is filled with water, and microbial food sources are added as an amendment. A sump pump sucks the solution from the bottom of the tank and distributes the solution to a trickle line running horizontally along the top of the PVC trough filled with compost. As the solution runs through the burlap bags containing the compost, a leachate is created which then drops several feet through the air back into the open tank below. A sump pump in the bottom of the tank collects this "tea" and distributes it back through the water line at the top of the trough, and so on.
Through this process, which lasts about seven days, the compost tea is recirculated, bubbled, and aerated. The purpose of the microbial food source is to grow a large population of beneficial microorganisms.
Information gathered from www.herb.co.za
A : The simplest way to make tea, is to just put any organic nutrients (ie. bat guano) in a bucket with water and let it sit overnight, then use the water for the plants.
Another way is to put the organic material in a cloth bag (ie. a pillow case) and let it sit in the water with an airstone bubbling away for about 24-48 hours.