How To Make Compost Tea

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A lot of people get the wrong impression that they are bad at growing a garden. They also get the impression a lot of special stuff is required to garden because they hop on gardening sites that all seem to keep pushing stuff to buy.

Maybe they prepare the space and throw their plants down then get discouraged when the plants barely grow. A lot of the time this error has nothing to do with you or your skills working the land, the problem is land gone neglected for long periods of time or never worked at all has very poor foundations that need to be built.

When I first started gardening the hardest thing was realizing how terrible the soil quality was in my yard. Apparently my yard was a great yard for someone with aspirations of working pottery. There was no real topsoil at all and underneath was basically just solid clay.

The ground had also never been farmed so as far as fertilizer went my plants required a lot.

When you are going about your day to day life as a human you also need key nutrients to maximize your health. A whole cascade of problems can affect you when you are nutritionally deficient.

Your food is also your fuel. If you eat poor food, then your body isn’t getting quality building blocks.

The same logic applies to plants in terms of which fertilizers to use. For them they require regular additions of compost or compost tea.

You can make compost tea from regular compost though all my best results were from my worm compost. Worms made sense anyway as given my very operation had to be very efficient.

The neat thing about worm compost or finished compost is they can be used without worry of burning the plant. They also help bolster the soil microbes so the soils have more nutrients and plants have less risk of disease.

How Do You Make and Use Compost Tea?

It all starts with all the swirling organic waste all around. Save all those tea leaves, coffee grounds, or the little scraps of kitchen waste. The scraps can be used to make a vital soil enrichment

If you have your own yard then every year you probably have access to leaves. If you don’t have that for some reason then you can probably find a neighborhood where people are bagging them and throwing them away. Leaves are also great plant nutrition though I usually used them more for a deep mulch for a weed free garden. Though leaves are good for composting.

How I did my fertilizing was I’d wait until my worm castings were finished and I’d collect them and dry them. Once dry I used some tea bag mesh and bagged up all of the casting like I was packing tea.

When I wanted to fertilize I’d take a compost teabag and add it to an aerated bucket to steep for a while. Then at night I’d go around all my plants and make sure everyone got some water.

Steps To Make Compost Tea

To do good compost tea it is important to work with finished compost. If you go to grab some random half finished compost you run the risk of having bad quality tea that can make you sick or otherwise be some level of harmful. This is why worm castings were my usual thing to go with because it was easy to tell when they were done.


Your core components will be:

  • a bucket
  • clean water (chlorine free)
  • preferred compost.
  • “tea bag” material. You can use a wide variety of material for a tea bag. Some use coffee or tea filtration papers and others use nylon stockings.
  • Air bubbler or stone

Important notes here is if you use a material with large holes then you will end up with tea that has a lot of grainy particulates. This is okay if you are pouring the water onto plants though if you use a watering can with small watering holes you might end up clogging them.

For my material I used an unbleached tea pouch.

I used an old aquarium pump to aerate my system and often made my tea in a small 10 gallon aquarium I had extra. You want to fill the tea bag with the required material and be sure the portion size matches the amount of water.

The main goal here is to let the good materials steep out into the water and have the mixture not get anaerobic and spoil. You know it is spoiled as it starts to stink.

The point of the pump is to keep oxygen working around in the poop looking water so it doesn’t smell like poop.

The basic process is to have a filled tea bag added to the bucket water and have the water be kept aerated by an air stone. You always want to use water that isn’t chlorinated. I used rainwater or left some water sitting out for many hours to give the chlorine time to dissipate.

If a lot of water is used the compost tea will be very diluted. If you use little water the compost tea will be very concentrated. It takes a bit of experimentation honestly.

After that you let your mixture brew. The tea will be ready to use pretty quickly. My routine was to throw a bag in my tank unit then go to bed. The next night I’d use the tea to water.

After the tea is done it needs to be used pretty quickly to get the microbial benefit to the ground. You can spread it on everything and on any of your plants. The leftover compost in the tea bag can be spread around the garden beds.

The usual tea process is straightforward and not a lot goes wrong. If the system doesn’t get enough oxygen it can stink. Main thing is clean water and finished compost.

XOXO, Mel