The Q&A Archives: Making Compost Tea

Question: making compost tea

Answer: You will need a 5-gallon plastic bucket and a few aquarium supplies: a pump large enough to run three bubblers (also called air stones), several feet of air tubing, a gang valve (which distributes the air coming from the pump to the tubes going to the bubblers), and three bubblers. You'll also need a stick for stirring the mixture, some unsulfured molasses (preferably organic), and an old pillowcase, tea towel, or nylon stocking for straining the tea. An extra bucket comes in handy for decanting the tea. Set about 4 inches of finished compost into the bucket and then add water, filling the bucket to within 6 inches of the top. (If you are using water from a public water source, run the pump and bubble air through the water for at least an hour before adding the water to the compost. This allows any chlorine to evaporate. Chlorine can kill beneficial organisms in the tea.) Turn on the aquarium pump and let the mixture brew for 2-3 days. Stir the brew occasionally to help mix the compost and separate the microorganisms from the solid compost particles.

Don't try to make compost tea without the aeration equipment. If the tea is not aerated constantly, the organisms in it will quickly use up the oxygen, and the tea will start to stink and become anaerobic. An anaerobic tea can harm your plants. Use the tea within 2-3 days.

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