Compost tea may not be made from tea leaves, but it is very rich in nutrients that plants thrive on and removes the need for commercial fertilizers. It can also be considered a method of organic pest control since the healthier a plant is, the more likely it is to be pest and disease free.
This is made by steeping compost in water and the resulting brew is a garden elixir for your plants. It’s very easy to make, here are the steps involved…
- Gather a pail full of water (a 5 gallon size is nice). You can use tap or rain water. Let this sit for at least 24 hours for the chlorine to dissipate.
- In a clean pail, add a hefty shovelful of compost, about 1 gallon’s worth. Pour the water over top, ratio is about 5:1 water/compost. Stir it all up so it’s mixed well.
- Allow the mixture to brew for three days (min) to one week, stirring deeply a few times every day to add oxygen to the water. This mix needs the oxygen, so don’t be skimpy on this part.
- After the brewing period, strain the finished product before using. A piece of muslin or nylon hose can be used as the strainer, just secure it on an empty pail and pour through to strain. Throw the used compost back on the pile. The brew in the pail is your tea.
- Dilute the final product 10 parts water to 1 part tea and sprinkle or spray this over your plants, pure brew is too strong to use full strength. Don’t apply to foliage in hot, sunny weather to safeguard against burning. Remember to let any water sit before adding to the mix, rainwater is good to use. This is beneficial to the plant on both leaves and in the soil.
- Use every two weeks (max) or as needed. Begin using it when plants are established with at least one set of leaves, though you can give the soil a good drink when first planting seeds.
- Note: The tea should smell fresh, earthy. If it’s stinky–don’t use it but add more water and stir more deeply, frequently each day. Smelly brew is a sign that it isn’t getting enough oxygen. Also keep in mind it must be used within hours after brewing.
- Tip: Some like to add a bit of unsulfured molasses to the mix while it’s brewing to keep the microorganisms fed and happy, about an 1/8th of a cup is great.
- Optional: You can use a burlap sack or muslin bag to hold the compost when brewing (saves on straining). Brew for at least 7 days with this method, still making sure to stir the mix lots while brewing.
Treat vegetables and plants regularly with this garden tea, they’ll love it! For tips on getting started with composting, see these projects for bins and boxes .