Composted tea is brewed from mature compost. It is an organic soil conditioner, fertilizer and natural pesticide. Composted tea is used in large-scale farming operations and in home gardens as an effective way to add nutrients to plants. Microorganisms reproduce quickly in water when oxygen is added. Composted tea is an easy way to fertilize growing plants and improve soil condition at the same time.
The EPA defines composted tea as "a liquid extract of compost containing soluble plant nutrients, beneficial plant compounds and beneficial microorganisms." It stimulates soil biological activity, which improves overall plant vigor, suppresses common diseases, improves soil structure, and reduces fungicide and fertilizer requirements. Composted tea has the benefits of mature compost in an easy to use form.
Home gardeners use compost tea as a soil conditioner and as a foliar spray. Essential nutrients are absorbed easily through plant leaves. Kirk Grace, vineyard manager in Napa Valley, California, uses compost tea on grapevines because it "provides plants with a broad range of nutrients often lacking in modern fertilizers; it is also alive with the microbes from the compost, their metabolic by-products, and other organic compounds that are so difficult to quantify, but we know their qualities are essential to healthy soil and plant environments."
Soil conservation is an important focus of organic gardening and sustainable agricultural practices on farms. Soil is conserved through the constant addition of nutrient-rich organic materials, such as those in composted tea.It contains billions of microorganisms that create nutrients in the soil. Microorganisms in soil are responsible for soil health and plant nutrition. Microorganisms provide the 13 nutrients essential to plant growth.
Composted Tea Extract
Compost tea is traditionally made on the farm by putting animal manure or compost in a burlap bag and suspending it in a barrel of water for several days. The water is then used to irrigate plants. Composted tea extract can be easily made in a home garden by putting a handful of mature compost in a bucket to soak overnight. The liquid is then used as a spray or to irrigate plants.
Composted Tea Brew
The aerobic composted tea brewing method uses a pump to incorporate oxygen into the water. A food source such as molasses, kelp or rock dust is added to increase the rate of reproduction of the microorganisms already present in compost. Compost tea brew can be applied immediately with repeated applications every two weeks. Both methods improve soil condition by adding nutrients.