Soil and Compost forum: Compost Tea Question

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Orange County, CA (Zone 10a)
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maxcaviar
Apr 30, 2015 11:32 PM CST
New to compost tea (vermicomposting, et cet). The recipe that I'm following is . . .

1/4 Cup Dried Molasses (Unsulfured Molasses)
3 tablespoons Humic Acid
1/4 Cup Rock Dust
1/4 Cup Sea Bird Guano
3 cups worm castings
3 Tablespoons Fish Emulsion
5 Gallons Water

What I am curious to know is whether or not I can jump start and/or supplement the mycorhizae/fungi by adding another product (in my case one of the E.B. Stone fertilizers, see attached ingredients) which already contains mycorhizae to the mixture? And what about those additives that are added to compost bins that contain similar ingredients?
Thumb of 2015-05-01/maxcaviar/ffd544

Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Composter Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Seedfork
May 1, 2015 6:28 AM CST
maxcaviar, Welcome!
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Composter Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Seedfork
May 1, 2015 6:53 AM CST
There are so many different opinions on the use of compost, compost tea, and all the additives that can be put in them that it is very difficult to know what is beneficial and what is not. So I can't give any definitive answers. Having never made compost tea or used any of the "formulas" or additives so often recommended, I can not give personal experience on them either. The best I can tell the scientific data seems to indicate there would be very little chance of adding mycorrhiza fungi successfully. However that is beyond my understanding, I am still trying to understand if mycorrhiza is actually even a physical thing or just a relationship between roots and fungi?
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Forum moderator Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Dog Lover Cottage Gardener
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chelle
May 1, 2015 7:08 AM CST
Welcome! to ATP.

I tried the purchased additives and my test plants grew very well, but I can't say that the plants fed this mix did any better than the ones I fed just plain compost tea made of on-hand, recycled ingredients.

Cottage Gardening

Newest Interest: Rock Gardens


Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Composter Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Seedfork
May 1, 2015 8:19 AM CST
I found it interesting reading about the ability of compost when applied as a mulch to suppress some plant diseases. It is natural to assume that if the compost can do this then the compost tea would also. Then I read how the compost reduced the diseases in plants: by improving drainage and by preventing splash up. Compost tea can do neither of these things. Not saying compost tea is not good or helpful, I don't know. Just saying that when you know the how and why of things it can certainly be an eye opener on your own thought processes.
Orange County, CA (Zone 10a)
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maxcaviar
May 1, 2015 11:06 AM CST
Got it - - the jury's out basically.

But I just can help but think that, assuming mycorrhiza can be fed, rejuvenated and/or propagated in the tea at all (and setting aside whether or not the mycorrhiza will later transfer and bond and/or penetrate the root surfaces), that adding further fungi cultures would merely increase the quantity and/or variety of mycorrhiza that you end up with.

But I'm "green" at this, so I could easily be missing something.
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Composter Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Seedfork
May 1, 2015 11:28 AM CST
I think Rick pointed out earlier in a thread, you can definitely increase the fungi in the mixture, but remember, not all fungi are good for plants.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
May 1, 2015 1:03 PM CST
Welcome to ATP, maxcaviar!

Are you incubating your recipe for a day or two, with aeration?

Also, I didn't see any compost in your recipe, except for the worm castings. I guess if they are fresh castings, they will carry soil microbes into your mix.

My own belief about compost tea is that we gardeners might be enthusiastic and quick to think that compost (which we love) really helped some plants, but many people believe that spraying well-aerated compost tea on their plants caused a significant, visible improvement.

In the face of experienced people reporting a consistent effect, scientists shouldn't say "that can't happen". They should say "We have not yet found controlled experiments that reproduce the effect, so we can't explain the root cause for the alleged improvement"

Either many gardeners are wrong about what they think they see, or very simple, very highly controlled experiments by scientists (perhaps eager to pooh-pooh "folk lore" from "non-union-members" who mostly lack advanced degrees in horticulture) failed to reproduce an effect that probably has complex roots.

Sort of like physicians and pharmacologists who sneered at "old women playing with herbs" until they finally had techniques where they could detect and analyze digitalis and aspirin and other active principles in herbs or bark or roots.

Like scientists who laughed at "gullible simpletons" who believed that rocks could fall from the sky. Until they had the explanation "meteorites", they would not believe people who saw things with their own eyes.

Simple people: two.
Scientists: zero.

I seem to recall reading other articles that had no trouble believing that spraying compost tea on leaves could leave behind increased numbers (or variety) of protective micro-organisms, contributing to plant health. I think they liked the word "phytosphere", and that made it "OK" to believe something that they had not invented themselves.

Maybe the benefit or A benefit is simple foliar feeding.

Maybe the scientists felt they had to "control for" that effect and avoided it in their experiments.

Maybe the benefit is that the soil was indeed lacking something that the tea provided, but the experiments used fertile soil.

The gardeners tend to say things like "the plants grew better" while the scientists tend to say things like "we did not detect increased blahblahblah in the babelbabelbabel". I'm glad the scientists are looking for specific, reproducible causes they can quantify. That's the only way to find out the relevant REASONS it seems to be beneficial.

But if a sincere scientist were trying to determine WHETHER the practice can confer benefits in the FIELD, he or she would go to some gardener who DOES get the good effects in a complex, uncontrolled setting, and then poke around to see if they can tell WHY. But they can't publish a paper that way!

That's very different from constructing highly controlled and simple experiments (publishable experiments) where the effect does NOT happen, and then say "it can't happen anywhere".

Orange County, CA (Zone 10a)
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maxcaviar
May 1, 2015 3:08 PM CST
Rick, yes, incubating for 48 hours. And yes, worm castings as the only source of compost. Their freshness is unknown and I realize that I need to be on the lookout for fresher sources than this, but that's what I have for now. I did "innocculate" with the EB WHITE fertilizer noted above to hopefully help on that score. Gawd knows. "Science" has produced a lot of nonsense, especially lately. I am more of a 'i know it when i see it' type. Thanks.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
May 1, 2015 4:12 PM CST
I didn't read that photo before - the Streptomyces are probably "decomposers" but I don't know about the others. Maybe all are for composting, and only the "endo MR" was intended as root fungi.

Certainly you'll have billions or trillions in a compost pile within a few days of having any at all.

Did I understand correctly that you're making the tea from scratch each time, from store-bought ingredients, that you don't have an actual pile of decomposing vegetation to make tea from?

>> "Science" has produced a lot of nonsense, especially lately.

It's kind of too bad that every science has become so specialized that their "reality" is the cluster of theories and experimental methods that are currently "hot" or "popular" enough to make publications likely. The days when a scientist "studied nature" rather than just the most esoteric details of their particular specialty are long, long past.

My guess is that it isn't even "science" we should be talking about. If they are studying "what works well in the field" , they are really doing engineering.

Orange County, CA (Zone 10a)
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maxcaviar
May 2, 2015 8:36 AM CST
yes, packaged worm castings. my shame knows no bounds. it's just temporary until i have a run of compost completed (1st run).
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Composter Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Seedfork
May 2, 2015 11:24 AM CST
maxcaviar,
we all had to start with a first batch, good luck with it. There is no shame in using packaged worm castings. Use what you have or can get.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
May 4, 2015 3:20 PM CST
Totally! Use what you've got.

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