Now that I have a couple of stinky 5 gallon buckets running and making tea I have been thinking about how to make a continuous permanant setup and wanted some thoughts from y'all since I want to be able to get a steady supply of tea whenever I want it.
Plus, from a lot of time in aquaculture i can tell you that WITHOUT QUESTION this type of ecosystem is a place where size does matter.... the smaller the container, the easier it is to crash a culture - minute changes in O2 levels, PH, temperature etcetera are magnified tremendously in a small container (If you ever try to run a reef tank, a 1500 gallon one is MUCH easier to keep healthy than a 20 gallon one, same principles here).
Aeration is key - in a small setup, yes - a daily stir will do but like the cap'n says constant aeration is key. The bacterial blooms will go right to the carrying capacity (food and dissolved O2) and then crash if either the food or O2 stops - Oxygen levels in a busy ecosystem like this will crash in less than an hour without aeration - that lovely swamp smell is all of those dead aerobic bacteria once it goes anaerobic.... the good news is that renewed aeration will cure it in a day or two.
So... here is a setup I used several years ago when breeding rain forest fishes (using peat to remove hardness and add acidity to water).
30 gallon trash can with a spigot installed about 2/3 of the way up, airhose in the center of the bottom for aeration/movement.
The plan would be to toss all my ingredients in, fill it up and bubble, bubble bubble til it is in good shape... then a little compost and molasses and beer, urine, door to door salesman or whatever can be added after each 'withdrawal'. I like using my tank sprayer - adding tap water with chlorine or chloramines will kill most of the 'goodies' in a compost tea. Remember - we're growing all of the things that the water chemicals are meant to eliminate. By tapping the barrel in the upper half, well below the water line, I can turn off the air and let things settle for 5 minutes after the chunks settle or float so I don't have to strain the tea to keep from clogging my sprayer.
So I figure every month or two I'll want to drain it (Might put in a bottom drain too come to think of it) and dump the compost out into my pile and start a fresh batch.
Anyone trying anything like this??? I want volume/simplicity and it seems like this would meet both requirements pretty darned well.
Oh... for those who like using a tank sprayer but get sick of the nozzle clogging I found a good solution - get a large funnel in the auto section at Walmart and one of those metal coffee/tea filter baskets - I hotglued the strainer into the funnel so I can pour fast and strain out the large nozzle cloggers for nice sprayable solutions....
yes, i overthink this stuff, I want to see what happens to my soil if I start spraying a few gallons of this stuff around each day on a regular basis.
Your turn - what else would you try???? Yeah, you got me into this, now yer stuck with my questions!