It is mid-summer, the gardening season is halfway over. Time for a plant boost. The easiest and most effective way to give the plants some instant food is by using compost tea. Compost tea is simply tea made out of good, finished compost, a liquid plant fertilizer. Plants love compost tea.
Compost tea is also a good way to extend the good compost you have. Diluted in water it goes a long way. A little bit of compost makes a lot of liquid compost tea, an all natural fertilizer.
There are two kinds of compost tea: there is brew and there is steep. We like the steep, or maybe I should say just the mix. Let’s get started and you will see what I mean. Compost tea can be made very simply, and this is the way we do it.
How to make simple compost tea
Put some good quality compost into a container, add water, stir, let it steep and water the plants with it. So simple, right? The water to compost ratio is about 1 to 30, but there is no science to it. More will just make stronger compost tea. You can use composted sheep manure, worm castings, or any good quality compost.
You can also add comfrey to the compost tea. Comfrey is a wonderful mulch for chop and drop permaculture systems, a fabulous flower for pollinators and beneficial insects and a fantastic fertilizer, make sure to grow some in your garden. Again, you can make comfrey fertilizer by letting the leaves ferment for many days, or just make a tea.
Eggshells or Epson salt can also be added for more minerals.
We would recommend to let the compost tea steep for at least 24 hours if you use cold tap or well water. Plants do not like cold water with or without compost. If you happen to let it sit a bit longer, make sure to stir it occasionally so the mixture does not start to smell.
Where to use compost tea
In nature the ground is covered with old plant material that slowly decomposes resulting in a layer of compost. Whenever it rains, the compost and plant material gets soaked into the ground. A natural compost tea fir the plants, if you will.
In our garden we imitate the same result with mulching the garden area with compost or wood chips. Whenever it rains, the plants in our garden too get watered with this natural compost tea.
However, in a greenhouse or raised beds the environment is not as natural. There is either no natural soil, or no rain to water the compost in. This are the places we make simple compost tea for.
If your garden is not mulched, you can also use simple compost tea for the whole garden. However, we would recommend to cover the soil each year with 1-2 inches of compost instead.
How to use simple compost tea
Water each plants with about a gallon of simple compost tea. If some compost happens to be left in the bottom you can add more water until everything is gone, or just scoop the compost out and give that to the plants, too.
If you used comfrey, take the leaves out ad use them in the compost pile or as mulch for the plants.
This simple method has worked for us and many other gardeners. Plants just love compost tea, it provides them with much needed nutrients in a liquid, easily available form.
Now, if you are not as simple, you can make compost tea a bit more complicated.
Use an old sock or nylons as a “tea bag” filling it with good quality compost, making sure the compost does not touch the bottom of the bucket. Add some organic molasses to feed the bacteria. Fill the bucket with water. Add an aquarium aerator (Air Pump) and let the compost tea brew. You will end up with awesome compost tea, and your plants will grow just as great as with a simple compost tea.