How to Make a Good Compost Tea

Overview

Compost tea is made from well-rotted compost or well-rotted animal manure. It is a way of concentrating the benefits of compost into a form that you can spray directly on plants or apply to the soil around the root base. Compost tea contains beneficial microorganisms and bacteria as well as fungi that plants use to ward off disease and produce bigger flowers, fruits and vegetables. There are many recipes for making compost tea. However, the most important ingredients are the compost, untreated water and some type of food, such as molasses, for the bacteria to feed on.

Step 1

Fill a 5-gallon plastic bucket with 4 gallons of water. If you are using tap water, let it sit in the bucket for 24 hours to let the chlorine dissipate into the atmosphere. Chlorine can kill many of the beneficial bacteria that are in compost tea so it is best if the chlorine levels are low. Stir or agitate the chlorinated water in the bucket a few times to facilitate the process.

Step 2

Tie a bolt or large nut onto the end of a length of aquarium hose with a piece of string. The hose should be long enough to run from the aquarium pump to the bottom of the bucket. The bolt is used to weigh down the hose in the water so the hose does not float.

Step 3

Add 2 tbsp. of either liquid or granulated molasses, 3 tbsp. of lemon juice and 2 tbsp. of liquid seaweed to the water in the bucket allowing it to become mixed thoroughly into the water. The liquid seaweed and the molasses feed the beneficial bacteria and the lemon juice creates an acidic environment where bacteria can thrive. Turn on the bubbling action of the aquarium hose and air pump. Be sure the end of the aquarium hose where the air is released is located at the bottom of the bucket so it makes the water circulate rapidly around the bucket.

Step 4

Place a shovelful, or three large handfuls, of compost into a burlap bag. Tie off the top of the bag with a string so the compost cannot escape and place the bag into the water.

Step 5

Allow the bag of compost to soak in the bucket of water enhanced with the molasses, liquid seaweed and lemon juice for 24 hours. Keep the agitation action of the aquarium pump going the entire time. After 24 hours place the "tea" in a sprayer or use another method to apply directly to plants.

Things You'll Need

  • 5-gallon bucket
  • 2 tbsp. molasses
  • 3 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. liquid seaweed
  • Compost
  • Burlap bag
  • String
  • Water
  • Aquarium air pump
  • Aquarium air hose
  • Bolt or nut

References

  • Sustainable Gardening: How to Make Compost Tea
  • Beginner Gardening: Making Compost Tea
  • Compost Junkie: Compost Tea Recipe
Keywords: compost tea, tea manure, recipe compost

About this Author

Based in Rockdale Texas, Jim Gober has been writing garden-related articles for 25 years. His articles appear in several Texas newspapers including The Rockdale Reporter, The Lexington Leader, The Cameron Herald and The Hearne Democrat. He is a Master Gardener and Certified Texas Nursery and Landscape Professional. He holds bachelor degrees in English Writing from St. Edward's University and Finance from Lamar University.