The latest buzz in gardening circles is the term 'Compost Tea'. While compost or manure teas—solutions made from soaking compost or manure in water—have been around for years, recent technology and studies of their properties have prompted a great deal of current interest. The following is some information to help you decide if compost tea will benefit your garden and tips on how to maximize its effectiveness.
Q. What is Compost Tea?
A. Compost tea is a liquid made from soaking nutrient-rich compost in water for a period of time. The resulting solution is then used as a liquid fertilizer on plants. Studies have shown that by introducing oxygen into this solution through the use of a pump will greatly increase the populations of beneficial microorganisms that encourage plant growth and root development and
can help to control plant diseases.
Q. What does Compost Tea do?
A. Compost tea is rich in necessary plant nutrients, making it a great organic liquid fertilizer for any outdoor plants, flowers, vegetables and lawns. Oxygenated compost tea prepared with a special brewer encourages huge populations of beneficial microorganisms that can target specific plant needs. Some of these tiny creatures encourage the development of healthy root systems; others counteract certain disease-carrying pathogens. The result is stronger, healthier and more productive plants.
Q. Will Compost Tea control plant diseases?
A. Studies have shown that the introduction of specific microorganisms into the brewing process can have an effect on the control of certain plant diseases. In particular, fungal diseases that are present in the soil or on plant leaves have been greatly reduced by the use of Compost Tea.
Q. Where do I get Compost Tea?
A. You can make your own - there are a number of different commercial Compost Tea "brewers" on the market.
Q. How do I use Compost Tea?
A. It can be applied directly to plant foliage as a spray or to the soil surrounding the plant as a soil drench. The purchased tea is typically diluted to a ratio of 10:1 - one gallon of tea concentrate will yield 10 gallons of solution. Be sure to use de-chlorinated water - allow tap water to sit for 4-6 hours or overnight. Because Compost Tea contains living organisms that will deteriorate rapidly once the oxygenation stops, you need to apply it promptly, within 8 - 10 hours of purchase. If you are unable to use up all your solution within that time frame, Compost Tea makes a great activator to kick-start your own compost pile. Just pour it on and let those microbes go to work!
Q. How often should I use Compost Tea?
A. That depends on how you intend to use it. Fungal enhanced tea is ideal for encouraging lush growth on trees and shrubs. Bacterial enhanced tea is best for vegetables and lawns. A balance of both bacterial and fungal tea will encourage growth and suppress disease problems. Application as a foliar fertilizer is recommended at least two to three times a season. To prevent fungal problems on roses and other ornamentals, a monthly application is suggested.