As the organic movement gains momentum, more home gardeners are turning to compost teas. Originally compost teas were made by soaking compost or manure in water for one or two weeks, and then applying the liquid to crops. More recently, compost tea has evolved to include sophisticated brewing methods that incorporate microbial food sources, such as molasses and kelp, and microbial food catalysts, such as humic acid and yucca extract. Sump pumps actively aerate the tea, turning it into a garden amendment rich in soluble nutrients and disease-fighting beneficial microbes. Often, gardeners use homemade brewing equipment, although according to the National Center for Appropriate Technology, Inc., commercial tea brewers produce the greatest numbers and diversity of beneficial organisms.
Fill the tank with water to the appropriate gallon marker, depending on the size of your equipment. Run the pump for 30 minutes to remove chlorine from treated water. Add a microbial food source to the machine, depending on the manufacturer's recommendations.
Fill the basket with good quality, organic compost. Don't use manure as it may contain pathogens.
Place the compost basket into the tank. Open the air supply mechanism, and adjust the airflow valve to the desired level. More airflow results in greater aeration, producing a thicker product.
Place the lid on the compost tea equipment, and allow it to run a complete cycle. Depending on the machine, this may take between 12 hours and 48 hours. Dr. Ingham of Soil Food Web recommends choosing machines that make compost tea in 24 hours or less to ensure adequate oxygenation.
Empty the compost tea into your application equipment. Use liquid fertilizing equipment or soaker hoses to distribute compost tea, or apply compost tea by hand to your garden.
Clean the compost tea making equipment thoroughly with a bucket of warm, soapy water and a cloth. Rinse with clean water and dry before storing.