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Old 12-15-2007, 03:43 PM   #1
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Smile Compost Tea Time

taken from Maximum Yeild


INTRODUCTION
You’ve seen the ads, you’ve read the hype, but what exactly is compost tea? Is it the next best thing in growing technology or just another passing fad? More important, how do you make it and what can it do for you? Although it is increasingly accepted by the organic growing community, there are still questions as to the benefits of using compost tea in hydroponic systems.
“Teas” made by soaking manure, compost,
or worm castings in water have been around for hundreds of years. The resulting
nutrient-rich mixture is, in fact, not compost tea but more accurately compost extract or leachate. Products on the retail shelves called “plant teas” are very similar. While these products can be beneficial, modern aerated compost tea is a more recent discovery, with potential to change your whole idea about cultivation.

WHAT IS COMPOST TEA?
Aerated compost tea looks like a murky brown liquid (sometimes foamy on top) that has a rich, earthy, somewhat
sweet smell. This liquid is alive, teeming with trillions of micro-organisms,
with a rich diversity of thousands of kinds of bacteria and fungi. The secret to all this life is the brewing process: air is forced through a mixture of high-quality compost and complex microbial foods suspended in water. The oxygen and nutrients produce an extraordinary explosive growth of bacteria
and fungi.
Consider that a teaspoon of good compost
contains a billion or more bacteria. Given the right environment, those bacteria
can double in population every 20 minutes. In the normal brewing period of 12–48 hours, those microbes turn into countless numbers of beneficial organisms.
Added to soil or a hydroponic solution, the microbes quickly go to work, converting everything around them into food for plants.

COMPOST TEA INGREDIENTS
Compost Starter
The quality of compost tea depends on its basic ingredient — the compost or source of microbial life. Like the “starter” used in yogurt, everything depends on the micro-organisms
it contains. The USDA has warned compost tea makers of the possibility of contamination
by Salmonella and E-coli found in some commercial manures and composts. It is essential to use only the highest-quality
organic non-manure, unpasteurized compost to make tea. Experienced growers build their own compost piles that heat up from biological activity. The resulting dark brown substance is a nursery for beneficial organisms and is good for compost tea.
Most compost tea makers reach for vermicompost
or worm castings. These are easily available and have high levels of bacteria. Obtain them from a reputable organic supplier,
because their effectiveness depends on the species of worm and the kind of food they have been fed. One drawback is that worm castings may not have the necessary diversity of fungal spores.

COMPOST TEA TIME FOR GROWERS
Gaining popularity with compost tea makers is a fine-grained humus that comes from Alaska. This is marketed under a number of different names: Alaska Humisoil, Alaska Humus, or Alaskan Magic. Extensively tested by independent laboratories, this humus has been found to harbor an extraordinary diversity of both bacteria and fungi, and it is naturally free of pollutants and pathogens.
Aerated Water
To make tea, the starter compost is added to pure, aerated water. High levels of chlorine in the water may kill off the microbes, so it is important
to aerate the water for a couple of hours to allow chlorine to off-gas. The dissolved oxygen level must be kept high to nourish the aerobic microbes. Many efficient aeration or brewing systems are now available. You can make your own using an air pump and a bubbling system. A double-outlet aquarium pump with a bubbler, to produce tiny micro-bubbles and gently agitate the tea, is sufficient air to brew a 5-gal. bucket.
Brewing the tea is as much an art as a science; treat the tea like a living organism. Insufficiently aerated compost tea may go anaerobic, which is poisonous to plant roots. This is easy to determine
because the tea gives off a sour smell. Leave the tea for
more than six hours without aeration and it dies from lack of food and air.
Microbial Foods
Microbes are hungry. Like every living thing, they need to be fed. The art of compost tea brewing is knowing how much and what nutrients to add to make the kind of tea you need. Bacteria feed on simple sugars, easily available in the form of non-sulfured molasses. Nutrients such as fish protein support both bacteria and fungi. Kelp, humic acid, and fibrous materials such as oat bran are good fungal foods. Brewing at shorter, higher temperatures of 75ºF–85ºF, tends to produce a quick bloom of bacteria. Brewing longer at lower temperatures of 60ºF–75ºF gives the fungi a chance to flourish.
Why the concern for bacteria and fungi? Fast-growing leafy plants prefer a more bacterially dominated environment for their roots, while woody-stemmed plants like it more fungal. If you want to grow greens or annuals, then brew for bacteria. If tomatoes, shrubs, or trees are what you are looking for, go more fungal. In general, a balanced bacterial/fungal tea will produce great results across the board. If you are unsure whether your tea has the optimum diversity of microbes, send it to a reputable lab for testing (see www.soilfoodweb.com).

WHY USE COMPOST TEA?
Making compost tea may sound a bit complicated, but the results can be extraordinary and the ideas behind it make intuitive sense. Plants and soil life have grown up together, co-evolved over millions
of years. The countless organisms in healthy soil — bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, arthropods, earthworms, and plant roots — form a living ecology called the “soil food web.” Prey and predator, catalyst and symbiote are interlocking parts of the great web of life.
The underpinnings of this ecology are the microbes and their relationship with roots. Many microbes are drawn to plant roots, which feed them tiny drops of sap. In exchange these criters break down minerals into easily digestible forms and fix nitrogen from the air. Not only are microbes food for other important members of the soil-food web, but their dead bodies are super plant nutrition.
Plants prefer their food biologically pre-digested, just as we prefer our food cooked. On this diet they naturally grow stronger and healthier.

COMPOST TEA AND SOIL
Organic growers have been using aerated compost teas for about 20 years. The positive stories are many and the scientific evidence is growing steadily. Research results, while somewhat confusing, suggest
that aerated compost tea enhances soil fertility, growing bigger, stronger plants with larger yields. Just as important, foliar spraying with tea can help control a number of plant diseases (see “The Secrets of Foliar Spraying,” Maximum Yield, July/August 2007).

Tomato plants treated with compost tea are stronger and resist blight better; turf roots grow more vigorously; grape, banana, and avocado have higher production
and less disease; seedlings show less damping off; le􀄴uce and greens produce faster growth. An important two-year research program by the Rodale Institute and Penn State University conclusively showed that aerated compost tea reduced powdery mildew on grapes by 50 percent and increased potato yields by 19 percent. Those potatoes had an extremely high mineral content.
More anecdotally, committed tea users say that the microbes in compost tea help break up impacted soils, clean up toxic chemicals, and greatly cut down on the need for added fertilizers. Some results are remarkable: John Evans, winner of numerous Guinness World Records for giant vegetables, used only compost tea to grow his 19-lb. carrot and 75-lb. Swiss chard.
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Old 12-15-2007, 03:43 PM   #2
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Default cont.

COMPOST TEA IN HYDROPONICS
Many organic hydroponics growers use extracts of compost or worm castings in their solutions. If they add organic nutrients
to these extracts and aerate, they are essentially brewing compost tea. Using the microbes to convert nutrients into superlative
plant foods makes obvious good sense — and it is more “natural.” Compost tea contains the most important active ingredients
of soil. It creates a “soil-like” environment
around hydroponically grown root systems. Because plants and microbes naturally live together, roots do not get burned in compost tea solutions.
There are, however, some technical issues. A solution filled with microbial life must be handled with care. If it is not continually and fully aerated, anerobic bacteria will take over, creating
a smelly, toxic mess. Systems using aerated compost tea should be flushed regularly to prevent clogging of pumps and nozzles by dead microorganisms. These show up as foam or scum and can o􀄞en be taken care of with appropriate filters and skimmers. It is also important to use only organic nutrients and microbial foods — chemical nitrogen and phosphorous kill off microbes.
Some users, to avoid problems, purposely kill the microbes in their tea with H2O2. The resulting sterile solution is high in organic nutrients but loses the benefit of the biological relationship
between microbe and root. With a little care and attention, compost tea can help re-create the most natural, complete, and productive growing environment for plants.

CONCLUSION
So, should you consider compost tea as part of your growing program? The answer depends as much on your personality as on the benefits of the product. If you like to get your hands dirty messing around with compost, if organics and micro-organisms are a passion for you, and if you enjoy brewing your own beer or making your own wine, then compost tea is definitely for you. If, on the other hand, you prefer a clean, controlled growing environment,
then you might want to give it a miss.
Before you decide it’s compost tea time, research thoroughly. There are a number of brewers and compost tea systems on the web and in gardening and hydroponics stores. Brewers should be simple and easily cleaned; their main function is to adequately oxygenate and agitate the brewing solution. The compost starter needs to be of the highest quality and the microbial nutrients need to create a rich, balanced brew of bacteria and fungi. Once you start brewing and see the amazing results, it is unlikely you will ever go back to growing without aerated compost tea.
RESOURCES
Lowenfels, J. and W. Lewis (2006) Teaming with Microbes.
www.soilfoodweb.com
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Old 12-16-2007, 01:51 PM   #3
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Great read HGB thanks dude.
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Old 06-07-2008, 08:31 AM   #4
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Any proven recipes with common ingredients? I would like to expriment with a tea on 1 or 2 plants. I have a five gallon bucket, an airstone, and molasses. Now What?
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Old 06-07-2008, 12:14 PM   #5
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Add water and compost and you would have a proven recipe.
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Old 06-17-2008, 06:58 PM   #6
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Can this recipe be used for the veg and flowering phases? I keep reading that you are supposed to lower the N and raise the P for flowering phase. ???
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Old 06-17-2008, 07:49 PM   #7
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I've used our own compost tea for a couple years now...My father has such a greenthumb and showed me a couple of things(big on organics)...But The Tea is the way to go outdoors...I think that the longer you let it set and soak , that better quality and more nutrients absorbed...I've always used a 4-5 gallon bucket with your compost filled around halfway full, and let it set for 5 days...And add more as needed
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Old 06-17-2008, 11:00 PM   #8
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To clarify my above post on a recipe and to add instead of edit.

I simply use teas to (hopefully) increase the amount of bacteria in my soil.

To start with, I use my city tap water. I have several gallon jugs that I fill then leave open for a couple of days.

I usually mix up one gallon at a time and I use about a cup of compost.

I forgot to mention above, molasses to which I add about a tablespoon.

The last thing I do is aerate with a pump and add an aquarium heater to raise the temperature.

Brew like this for a couple of days and use. Since I use so little I can add a little more water and molasses, brew again for a couple of days, long enough for the containers to dry out enough to water again with the tea.

I do like to add alfalfa. I like the smell. I think its considered a nitrogen source. I only use teas a couple of times during the grow. The first application is when I start fertilizing. I top dress my NPK ferts so I want the bacteria count in the soil to increase. The second time is when I first put my girl in flower. I want the bacteria count in the soil to increase for the big stretch in the beginning of flower. The alfalfa works out in those two times of the grow.

This is for my indoor grow. I have added other things and used at different times, but have the best feelings when I used the above.
Here is a link to "trillions of atoms'"method in the DIY section with a different "recipe".
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Old 06-18-2008, 12:27 AM   #9
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Cool stuff. I make teas sometimes too, although I do not know if they are compost tea. I use all organics too. I use some Peace of Mind Fruit and Flower (5-8-4). I also use bat guanos, type depneds on plant needs and I use Seabird Guano (10-10-2). I also add some molasses and a touch of fish emulsion, yuck. I also let it sit in the sun outside for a day at least. This all happens in a 54 gallon tote, so I throw a pump in attach the house and the watering wand and water the plants. I like it, but I would still make sure you have nice fertile soil, and that you still top dress...veggies taste great, and the MJ tastes very earthy IMO. Just thought I would share, I also make sure that I mix the water up really well. So far I like the results, and I would love to see other's recipes. Oh and I use some wormcastings too

I wanna build a compost area so I can do a real tea one day...it's on my list
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Old 06-18-2008, 05:56 PM   #10
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I really couldn't tell you what all exactly is put into our bins, a mixture of lawn and tree trimmings, eggshells, coffee grounds, beer, and usually anything organic and decomposable like watermelon rinds and such...But keep in mind i've had these bins (prolly 10ft X4ft 3 of 'em) sitting and decomping for at least 8 years...But Snuggles it's about as easy to build a compost pile/bin as it is to build a doghouse, prolly easier...Ya just gotta make sure there's support to keep it all together...
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Old 07-22-2008, 10:35 PM   #11
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my moms bf has giant worm beds with resevoirs on the bottom that he fills galln jugs with the "worm tea". he uses this and old dry manure that he runs his water over. so far his plants grow bigger and have higher yeilds with the tastiest organic flavor ever ....
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Old 07-23-2008, 06:05 AM   #12
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I am new at growing. My plants are 2 weeks into flowering. The person who is helping me brings me his (special juice/tea) and that is all I have been using since flowering began. He will not give me the recipe but now I know what it is. LOL. I am grateful for this info.
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Old 08-15-2008, 07:40 PM   #13
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Sweet, the guy at my hydro shop just hooked me up with a liter of his organic compost tea. I used a liter of the tea in 1 gallon of distilled water like he instructed. He said that everyone he had given some to sofar has had excellent results. Guess I must have had some good karma to have been gifted something so nice!
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Old 08-15-2008, 07:44 PM   #14
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Can't go wrong w/ the Tea ...But i'm glad this thread got bumped...I was about to bring it back...I was wondering if you could use your compost Tea to foliar feed/spray...It seems like it would be ok, but maybe not as efficient...It's just a thought
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Old 08-15-2008, 07:59 PM   #15
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You sure can, The bacteria and fungi in the tea will protect the leaves from any pathogenic microbes and fungi that could attack the leaves. It works excellently, although I prefer to use worm castings then actual compost, as it has the most batactia and microbial life.
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Old 08-17-2008, 10:39 PM   #16
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I have a good deal of worm castings in our compost...Not exactly sure if the kinda worms matter...But i'll always bring my nightcrawlers home after fishing and add to it...At one point i was able to just get my own out of the bins, but I've taken so much out of 'em i'm scraping the bottom while waiting for the other bins to decompose more...But thanks Mass, great posting!
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Old 09-15-2008, 01:12 AM   #17
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Default Ready made Compost Tea...

Compost tea works great and well worth the time it takes to make it. Also liquid worm poop is great!!!
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Old 09-27-2008, 03:36 PM   #18
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Default Another great compost...

Organic Compost is the absolute best way to feed your plants, mulch them and all the nutrients are in there. You will also lesson the amount of kitchen scraps going to the landfill. You ca simply dig a hole and start throwing organic waste in it. Throw som dirt over it and toss every so often. Include leaves and grass clippings as a carbon catalyst. You can even include dog hair, kid hair, vacuum cleaner debris, shredded paper.

You can also go techno as I have with the Jora JK125 Composter, an insulated twin chamber compost tumbler made in Sweden. This is the answer for Year Long Composting. I use it and I like it. I said I like it... I like it... Like it... Like... ike... I... Uhhh... Thank you and Good Nite...
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Last edited by veracan; 09-27-2008 at 03:42 PM.
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Old 09-27-2008, 08:44 PM   #19
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I'd be wary of the vaccum cleaner debris.esp. if you use chem carpet cleaners. Hair is great, but would avoid any chemical things going in that may harm the micro life in it.
Also avoid meat scraps...stick to just manure, guano, and veggie/coffee/eggshells/fruit peels/etc. Just my 2 cents worth.
also if you find mushrooms and fungi about grab that and toos in there too.
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Old 12-02-2008, 06:49 PM   #20
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Cool This stuff works

I've just switched from chemicals to total organic but had a problem, I keep reading that organic teas will balance out pH but I found out that using creek water like I have been doing can cause high pH like 8.3- 8.7. I figured out that since we've had almost 15" of rain in 1.5 months the minerals are leaching into the water increasing the pH. Being that I am going organic I didn't want to use chemicals to lower pH so someone suggested using organic apple cider vinegar to lower pH and it worked like a charm. I'm still learning but am seeing some nice growth on all new cuttings and transplants with wonderful roots and fungi growing it's web sine I started using Fungi perfecti Mycogrow there is a power innoculant I put in each hole for transplanting I add it to the tea and like what I see so far. Just cloned, transplanted and got into flower and will be letting you know how it goes. Thanks for the great information. Peace
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