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PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2003 1:23 pm 
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Aerated compost teas are the latest in scientific organic research today. In many ways, aerated teas offer greater immediate benefits than classic compost, manure, or other homemade foliar teas. Just by applying a cheap aquarium air pump to a 5 gallon bucket of tea, you can get amazing results. Instead of just brewing teas for quick valuable water soluble nutrients from the compost or manure, you can breed a larger population of beneficial aerobic bacteria and fungi in the tea. It is the microherd in our soil, compost, and teas, that is really more important in soil development and disease control than just the soluble nutrients.

Aerobic microherd populations reduce offensive smells in compost piles, the compost teas, and the soil. Aerobic microherd also break down bad poisons and pathogens into safe nutrients in hot compost piles and aerated compost teas. Diluted anaerobic compost or manure teas are great liquid fertilizers and disease controllers also. Many people prefer the anaerobic teas better because they are simpler and easier to design and apply. However, recent research has proven that the aerobic microherd populations fight diseases and bad soil and plant pathogens better and supply more power to your soil's total health and texture. Keep in mind that all types of organic and natural foliar teas are designed to complement and enhance, not replace, basic composting, green manuring, and organic mulching techinques in your garden. The soil microherd continue over months and years to eat up insoluble OM in the existing soil and the extra soil amendments and break them down into more available soluble nutrients for plants later in the year.

Technically even in un-aerated teas there is still some aerobic action taking place for several days. All fungi is aerobic. Some bacteria are totally aerobic, some bacteria are totally anaerobic, and some bacteria can act both aerobic or anerobic based on the soil or tea environment. Un-aerated teas can continue to keep alive some aerobic or aerobic/anaerobic microbes, for up to 10 days in a watery solution. After 10 days, the whole un-aerated tea will contain only anerobic microbes.

You can expect different microbial population levels in your tea based on weather, climate, temperature, seasons, etc. In the summertime you can expect your teas to brew faster and get to your optimal microbial levels faster than in cooler fall weather. Also tea odors, color, and foaminess on top of the tea, will vary based on temperatures too.

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There are several different levels of teas as well as different recipes and styles. Here is the simple steps as outlined by some organic tea friends of mine:

Level 1: Put a shovel full of good compost in a 5 gallon bucket of water, wait one week, and apply to garden or lawn either full strength or up to a 1:4 water ratio. This is an excellent source of ready available soluble nutrients. NOTE: If you stir your brew daily or every other day, it helps get more oxygen to the mix for better decomposition and better aerobic microbial population growth.

Level 2: Do same as above, but now add to the recipe a few cups of alfalfa pellets or some other cattle feed. Now you have extra nitrogen and trace elements from the bacterial foods.

Level 3: Do all above plus now add the air pump bubbler. Now you have more aerobic microbes to add to your soluble nutrients in the tea.

Level 4: Do all the above and now add a few tblsp of molasses or other simple sugar products. Now you really maximize the aerobic microbes in the tea, which in turn produce even more extra soluble nutrients from the bacterial foods.

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Here is my suggestions also. You can add more high nitrogen foods in the tea. Remember the only main ingredients that are necessary to make a good bacterial and soluble nutrients tea are: aerobic compost and sugar products. Everything else is optional. Your teas can be as creative as you are. Let's assume a 5 gallon tea recipe for our example:

1. Add 1/2 bucket of finished hot compost. This supplies most of the beneficial aerobic microbes and soluble nutrients. Some people use slightly immature aerobic compost because it has more fresh nitrogen in it, but less microbes than finished hot compost.

2. Use 2-3 tblsp molasses, brown sugar, or corn syrup. This feeds and breeds the aerobic bacteria. Sugar products are mostly carbon which is what the microherd eat quickly. Add about 1-2 more tblsp of molasses for every 3 days of aerobic brewing to make sure the sugar is digested before touching the soil at application time, and to guarantee that the aerobic bacteria population stays strong throughout the brewing process. Molasses also contains sulfur which is a mild natural fungicide. Molasses is also a great natural deodorizer for fishy teas.

3. Add 1-2 cans of mackerel, sardines, or other canned fish. Supplied extra NPK, fish oil for beneficial fungi, calcium from fish bones. Most commercial fish emulsions contain no fish oils and little to no aerobic bacteria. Fresh fish parts can be used, but because of offensive odors, it should composted separately with browns like sawdust first before adding to the tea brew. NOTE: For those organic gardeners who prefer vegetarian soil amendments, you can skip the fishy ingredients, it's not necessary. There is plenty of NPK in alfalfa meal and other grains that you can use.

(NOTE: If you use canned fish products, you may want to let it decompose mixed with some finished compost, good garden soil, etc. in a separate closeable container for a few days before using. Since most canned meat products contain preservatives, this will guarantee that the good microbes in the tea will not be killed off or harmed in brew making.)


4. Add 1 pack fresh seaweed. Supplies all extra trace elements. Seaweed can contain about 60 trace elements and lots of plant growth hormones. Seaweed is a beneficial fungal food source for soil microbes. Liquifying the seaweed makes it dissolve even faster.

5. Add 1-2 cups of alfalfa meal, corn meal, cattle feed, horse feed, catfish or pond fish feed. Supplies extra proteins and bacteria. Corn meal is a natural fungicide and supplies food for beneficial fungi in the soil.

6. Add rotten fruit for extra fungal foods. Add green weeds to supply extra bacterial foods to the tea.

7. Good ole garden soil is an excellent free biostimulant. Garden soil is full of beneficial aerobic bacteria, fungi, and other great microbes. Some people make a great microbial tea just out of soil. Forest soil is usually higher in beneficial fungi than rich garden soil.

8. Fill the rest of the container with rainwater, compost tea, or plain de-chlorinated water to almost the top of bucket. You can make good "rain water" from tap water by adding a little Tang (citrus acid) to the water mix before brewing. Urine water is also an excellent organic nitrogen source for teas (45% N).

9. Some people like to add 1-2 tblsp of apple cider vinegar to add about 30 extra trace minerals and to add the little acidicity that is present in commercial fish emulsions. Many fish emulsions contain up to 5% sulfuric acid to help it preserve on the shelf and add needed sulfur to the soil. You can add extra magnesium and sulfur by adding 1-2 tblsp of Epsom salt to the tea.

10. Apply the air pump to the tea. NOTE: Some organic tea brewers prefer not to use the air pump method. You can get some extra oxygen in the tea by stirring it daily or every other day. The air pump just makes the oxygen levels in the tea happen faster than by hand, thus greatly increasing the rate of aerobic microbial growth in the tea. If you prefer to use the air pump, let it bubble and brew for at least 1-3 days. (NOTE: The 3 days limit is just a good guideline. The real test of brewing time is by your own sight and smell test, because everybody's tea is different due to the various microbial species and breeding activity that takes place during the brewing process.) The aerobic tea is ready to use when it has either an earthy or "yeasty" smell or a foamy layer on top of the tea. If not satisfied with the look or the smell of the tea, go up to a week of brewing. The extra brewing time will help the microbes digest more of the insoluble bacterial and fungal foods in the tea and make it more available for your plant's or your soil's nutritional needs.

Apply this tea full strength to get full nutrient levels per plant, or dilute it from a 1:1 down to a 1:5 water ratio to spread the beneficial microbes over a 1-acre garden area (mix 5 gallons of tea per 25 gallons of rainwater).

To reduce straining, you can place all your ingredients in a closed panty hose or laundry bag during the brewing cycle (don't use a too fine mesh bag or the beneficial fungi can't flow properly through the bag).

Here's another method to avoid straining and to maximize the amount of microbes in application: Simply turn off the air pump, stir the entire mixture real hard, and then let the mixture sit still for about 30 minutes. Scoop off the top juice straight into a watering can for application.

You can apply with a watering can, or simple cup, or in a sprinkling system. All compost teas can be used as a foliar feed or soil drench around plants. They also make great compost pile nitrogen and bacterial activators to heat up the pile for faster finished composting. Always take the remains for teas and recycle them back into your compost piles.


As stated, you can use your homemade tea as a foliar feed or as a soil drench or both. Soil drenches are best for building up the soil microbial activities and supplying lots of beneficial soluble NPK to the plant's root system and the topsoil texture. Foliar feeds are best for quick fixes of trace elements and small portions of other soluble nutrients into the plant through its leaves. Foliar feeds are also good for plant disease control. Foliar feeds work best when used with soil drenches or with lots of organic mulches around plants. You can poke holes in the soil around crop roots with your spade fork, to get more oxygen in the soil to further increase organic matter decomposition and increase microbial activity in the soil.

If you like, you can add a few drops of mild liquid soap per gallon as a wetting agent to get better coverage as a foliar feed at application time. (NOTE: If you are concerrned that using soaps may harm the beneficial microbes in your teas, you may want to just use molasses or yucca extract as a spreader-sticker.)


These homemade aerated compost teas are just as powerful, maybe more powerful, than any commercial natural or organic fertilizer or soil amendment on the market today. And they are a lot cheaper too! So have fun, be creative, and keep on composting!


Happy Gardening!

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 Post subject: Time to be effective
PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2003 3:23 pm 
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My first time to the forum and what a wealth of info--
How long does it take for the nutrients in the tea to be absorbed by the plant? ie; I just applied a tea and about 2-3 hours later there was a hard thundershower for a few minutes. Was the application efective or should I reapply?


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2003 7:54 am 
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Good foliar sprays can let micronutrients and nitrogen get absorbed in foliage as fast as a hour! However, reapplying a foliar feed after a rain, isn't going to hurt anything. I foliar/soil drench my heavy feeding plants like corn and tomatoes, sometimes once or twice a week.

Foliar feeds are best for quick, fast, absorption of soluble nitrogen and micronutrients.

Soil drenches are best for extra soluble NPK nutrients.

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The entire Kingdom of God can be totally explained as an Organic Garden (Mark 4:26)
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 Post subject: Compost Teas
PostPosted: Thu Jul 10, 2003 1:59 am 
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GREAT info on the compost teas. I like the idea of using aeration to get things going. Wonderful, practical information... :D

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2003 11:11 pm 
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This is great! Thanks for all the info. :wink:


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2003 11:46 am 
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CaptainCompostAL, Thanks alot for all the valuable information on compost tea making. This information will be added to my book of composting ideas for future reference.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2003 10:51 am 
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First I would like to thank you for the quantity and quality of your information. next, I plan on trying to brew my own tea this week. :D I think I fully understand what, how, and why, except you mention "hot" compost. Is there a difference between using "hot" compost vs. cold? My compost pile is a cold one. It is mainly composed of lawn clippings, garden waste, flower bed cuttings, oak leaves, and the twigs that have fallen in the yard. As best as I can tell there should not be a big difference except that I have to watch out for weed seeds that would be taken care of if I hot composted. Using a 5 gal bucket I plan on using horse manure to start and add some of my "cold" compost. Your thoughts? Thanks.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2003 11:17 am 
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My compost is the same as yours. It was a host compost earlier but cooled off. Will turn it soon. I took a pair of panty hose and cut off one leg. Stuffed it with compost, seaweed and some mollasses. Just like stuffing a sausage. Tied the top and put into a 5 gallon bucket 3/4 full of water. Let it set for 3 days and removed the sock. About 30 - 45 minutes before using, I will aeriate it with my aeriator I use to keep minnows alive. The compost tea seems to work better and faster this way. Next I fill half full a 1 gallon pump up sprayer with the compost tea and fill the remainder with water. Then spray the garden and trees. The plants turn dark green with in 30 minutes.
Hope this helps. Everyone does their compost tea different. I found there is not a 'real' receipe to follow. What ever work best for you.

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 Post subject: Plano Compost
PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2003 5:04 am 
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The City of Plano is selling bagged compost. Has anyone used it? I wonder about the herbicides since it is collected from everyone in the city.

DAN


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2003 6:43 pm 
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Dan-
I spoke with the manager of the Plano compost operation. They are one of the few local composters that regularly have their material tested. I ordered about 10 truckloads for a new vegetable garden last year so I had to make sure it tested negative for picloram and chlopyralid. I like what I got.
Tony M


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2003 1:44 pm 
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Truckloads from Plano??

Tony, if you don't mind me asking....how much are they getting for a truckload, do they deliver to neighboring cities, and can you post in here the contact name & phone number?

I'm working on a project where I'm not going to have enough compost for a garden and to keep running over to Home Depot for supplies now seems absolutely foolish.

BTW, where do you weigh in on cow vs horse manure? I was told once that cow manure is better because a cow has multiple stomachs and digest any weed seeds better than horses do. Is there any truth to this or is it all bunk?


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 25, 2004 12:10 am 
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Destiny I'm new to this posting thing and your post seems quite old but I couldn't resist throwing my 2 cents in.

As a former dairy farmer I can assure you in every way possible that a cows stomach (stomachs) will do nothing to the vast majority of weed seeds in the food it eats. Unfortunatly it seems well adapted to preseving them till you apply them to your garden where they will germinate in unimaginable quantaties. Hot compost all manure products or don't use them.

But that's just one mans opinion.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2004 9:07 am 
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Hi,

I want to start making compost tea, but do not have my own compost pile at this time. I did order 10 yards of compost soil from a landscaping company, for expanding my vegetable gardens. Do you think I could just use some of that soil, or will many of the microbes have died by now? ( it has been a month ). I live in Frisco , TX. What source of compost commercially available, would be good to try this with? Would Plano Pure Compost bags do? Should I spray something on my soil to keep the microbes happy? Sorry if any of this is a repeat .....

Thanks in advance ....


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2004 9:52 am 
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Absolutely! Any form of old compost, forest dirt, or rich garden dirt is loaded with plenty of beneficial microbes for a good aerobic bacterial or fungal tea brew recipe.

Always remember to add a little molasses or any other natural sugar or syrup source, to any tea brew recipe you decide to make. This guarantees a good microbial growth. You can do it either in the tea brew, or you can wait and put it in your diluted tea, so aerobic microbes from the air and soil, will grow after the tea is applied to your plants or soil.

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The entire Kingdom of God can be totally explained as an Organic Garden (Mark 4:26)
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2004 7:34 pm 
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Captain, I really appreciate your sharing of wisdom. Just started reading more about making compost teas and looking around at some of the compost tea makers. My husband scoffs at them as being ridiculously expensive and he wants to make one for me. Was wondering what you might offer in the way of advice.

Are there any commerically made compost tea makers that you think are worth the money? Would appreciate any help. Thanks - Susan

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