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How to Make Your Own Compost Tea Brewer

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How to Make Your Own Compost Tea Brewer

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Overview

Compost tea offers benefits of compost in a more manageable package, according to the Rodale Institute. Farmers have soaked bags of compost in water for centuries to fertilize their crops. Today, home gardeners can refine this passive method by actively aerating a solution of compost and water using a homemade tea brewer. The resulting tea can strengthen plants as the tea's beneficial organisms crowd out pathogens in the soil and produce antibodies and enzymes that minimize disease organisms, according to the Soil Nutrient Analysis Laboratory at the University of Connecticut.

Step 1

Cut aquarium tubing into three pieces at least 12 inches long. Attach the pieces to the gang valve.

Step 2

Place the gang valve on the side of the bucket. Double-check that the hoses reach the bottom of the bucket.

Step 3

Cover the bottom of the bucket with the finished compost. Double-check that the ends of the hoses are covered.

Step 4

Fill the bucket with water up to within six inches of the top. Use water that has been allowed to sit for 24 hours to allow its chlorine to evaporate.

Step 5

Turn on the aquarium pump and let the mixture brew for two to three days. Stir the brew occasionally.

Step 6

Strain the solution into the second bucket or a sprayer canister through cheesecloth. Place the compost solids back in the compost pile or in the garden.

Step 7

Apply the compost tea to plants immediately, either on plant foliage or the soil itself. Beneficial microbes begin to die shortly after the air source is removed, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Tips and Warnings

  • Check the smell of the tea, which should smell pleasantly earthy. Do not use rank-smelling tea on your plants. Dump the solution back onto your compost pile. Avoid adding molasses, fish emulsion or fish oil or liquid seaweed to the tea solution. USDA Agricultural Research Service labs in Maryland and Oregon found that this encourages the growth of harmful bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 5-gallon buckets
  • 1 gallon ripe compost or vermicompost
  • Aquarium pump
  • Gang valve
  • 4 gallons dechlorinated water
  • 4 feet aquarium tubing
  • Cheesecloth

References

  • Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection: Compost Tea as Easy as 1 2 3
  • Fine Gardening: Brewing Compost Tea
  • USDA: Additives Boost Pathogens in Compost Tea
  • USDA National Organic Standards Board: Compost Task Force Recommendation
  • University of Connecticut Soil Nutrient Analysis Laboratory: Compost Tea

Who Can Help

  • Doug Green's Beginner-Gardening.com: Making Compost Tea
  • Youtube: Compost Tea w/ Howard Garrett the Dirt Doctor (video)
  • Penn State/The Rodale Institute: Compost Tea Production, Application, and Benefits
  • Washington State University: The Myth of Compost Tea Revisited:
Keywords: compost tea brewer, DIY compost tea, using compost tea

About this Author

Rogue Parrish has written two travel books and edited at the "The Baltimore Sun," "The Washington Post" and the Alaska Newspapers company. She began writing professionally in 1975. Parrish holds a summa cum laude Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.