If you have your own garden, you have probably heard about compost tea in the past. This is a very popular fertilizer alternative to standard compost and although it involves a bit more effort, gardeners tend to love it, especially those focusing on natural gardening.
Put simply, compost tea is the result when you soak compost in a bucket of water in the same way you would steep tea. Those who use it say that the tea is a more effective way of delivering the nutrients to your plants and it can provide additional benefits as well.
Despite the popularity of compost tea, there is still a debate as to whether or not it is actually more effective than using standard compost as a fertilizer. Some experts say that it doesn’t improve the effectiveness of the compost or plant growth in any ways. Other, however, say that they have seen great results. Even results from scientific studies are mixed, with plants exposed to compost tea sometimes showing increased growth compared to those exposed to just compost, but sometimes the opposite is true or growth is the same in both groups. No matter what, however, there is absolutely no harm in using compost tea and it is a much better option than simply leaving your trees to their own devices or using a chemical-filled fertilizer.
To start off with, compost tea is a great way to strengthen your plants. The tea won’t kill weeds by any means, but by making your plants stronger, it helps increase their defenses against them. This means that even if you miss a day or two of weeding, you don’t have to worry as much if you are using compost tea.
The compost tea will also help improve both the nutrition and growth of your trees. Your trees get more nutrients because there are no harmful chemicals to mess with the delicate balance of the ecosystem. The tea also allows you to give the trees the exact nutrients they need in the proper location, maximizing the nutrients they are able to absorb.
Compost tea also protects the surfaces of your trees by covering them in beneficial organisms which block harmful ones. Part of the improved growth is also due to the increase in nutrients, both delivered to the plant and those retained in the soil.
There are two main ways that compost tea works to save your trees. If you use the tea to coat the tree surface, the organisms found within the tea stay right on the surface. This prevents any harmful bacteria from getting close to the plant.
The other main way compost tea helps is through the soil. If you choose to apply it on the soil, the organisms within the tea will attach themselves to the roots of the tree (or plant). These organisms start to process all of the nutrients which are found in the soil thanks to the compost tea. At the same time, they also give these nutrients to the trees, further improving their nutrition and ability to grow.
In addition to those specific advantages of compost tea, there are many other benefits as well. This method of fertilizer will reduce the loss of water by increasing the ability of the soil to hold water. In the end, that means that your system requires less water. The water savings will lead to money savings as you don’t have to use as much to keep your trees healthy. It is also very useful during dry seasons as your trees won’t require water, letting you possibly rely on the occasional rainfall or at least easily follow water restrictions.
Compost tea also improves the structure of the soil and this helps with tillage. Because there are no harmful chemicals in compost tea, it also lets your yard stay safe and free from chemicals which could harm your family. If you have fruit-bearing trees, the fruit which comes from those exposed to be compost tea will have higher nutrient levels.
You can buy compost tea, but it is also possible to brew it yourself with the right equipment. For aerated compost tea, these supplies include an aquarium pump, which isn’t necessary for the classic version. It is ideal to follow the aerated recipe as without the aeration, your plants and trees may be harmed. You need to start by attaching some tubing to your aquarium pump, with the other end connecting to the ports along the gang valve. Attach the bubblers for aeration to the hoses.
Put your mature compost into your bucket, covering the edges of the hoses. Add water, being sure to get rid of chlorine if it is city water. To do this, add the water to the bucket before the compost and let the pump run for an hour. Add some molasses as this encourages the growth of organisms. Activate your pump and let your mixture brew three days, stirring it several times each day.
Take a second bucket and strain the mixture into it with a pillowcase or old stockings. You can either add the solids to your compost bin or the soil.
You need to use your compost tea a day or two after you finish making it. If you wait too long, the organisms within the tea will use up all of the oxygen and start dying. Only use your compost tea if it smells earthy and sweet; toss it if it stinks immediately.
Apply the tea with a watering can or spray bottle. You should ideally spray on the compost tea right when you plant your trees and then every two weeks during the growing season. Avoid spraying it during the day since the intense sunlight kills the helpful microorganisms which give the tea the ability to save your trees.
When you start looking at compost tea recipes, you will notice that you can vary the ingredients slightly to change the balance of bacteria and fungi. If you have deciduous trees, you want it to be moderately fungal, while it should be highly fungal for use on coniferous trees.