Have you wanted the boost that a compost tea can bring to your plants but aren’t sure where to start? Here’s a simple compost tea recipe from Farmer D’s first book Citizen Farmers.
Compost feeds the soil biology in a garden. This enhances nutrients, moisture retention, disease resistance and overall plant vitality. When making compost tea, be sure to start with good quality compost and follow the National Organic Program’s safety guidelines. This recipe makes 5 gallons of tea, enough for a large home garden.
What you’ll need:
- 1 Clean, 5-gallon (20 L) bucket (preferably ceramic or stainless steel. Plastic is ok- no bleach or chemical residues
- 4 Gallons (15 L) rainwater, spring water or tap water
- 1 Quart (400 G) aged, good quality compost
- Pantyhose, cheesecloth bag or fine screen colander
- Stinging Nettle or Burdock leaves
- 3 Tablespoons compost tea activator (such as unsulphured organic molasses or a ready-made activator such as Growing Solutions compost tea catalyst)
- Small fish tank aerator pump with tubing and several bubblers or air stones to pump oxygen into the bucket of water with compost and activator
Fill the bucket with water. If using tap water, let it sit out for 24 hours to release chlorine. Place the compost in the pantyhose, cheesecloth bad or colander. Fully immerse the compost in the water without allowing soil particle to get in the water. (you can also brew without a mesh bag and instead run the finished tea through a fine-mesh or cheesecloth strainer.) Toss in a few handfuls of fresh stinging nettles, burdock leaves or other other appropriate herbs and weeds for added benefits. Add the compost activator, turn on the aerator pump, and let brew for 24 to 48 hours. If you are not using aerator, let sit for 5 to 10 days to allow for adequate fermentation.
Once brewed, compost tea has a short shelf life, so it should be applied as soon as possible, no later than 24 hours after being brewed. When using compost tea, dilute at 10 parts water to 1 part compost tea and apply as follows:
Foliar Applications: Spray in the morning or evening on underside of leaves of plants, shrubs and trees.
Soil Drench: Water new transplants or existing plants.
Lawn: Spray or run through your irrigation system.