Compost Tea 101

I made compost tea for the first time this week. And in the process learned what it is, why I would want to make this and how beneficial it is to the plants and soil.

I took a workshop at Fresh Start in Louisville last Saturday. The workshop was on Fall planting, but of course we all arrive with questions and there is much discussion in the workshop.  I truly love going there!  At a break I was chatting with Steve and telling him about our first time gardening experience.  He told me the best thing I could do is to get the soil conditions right–specifically the biology of the soil.  He said the best way to the do that and the cheapest and the most organic way to do this is to make compost tea.  It is a simple concoction of worm castings, a sugar like molasses, water and air bubbles.  The benefits are many as the process activates the microorganisms in the compost and multiplies them.  In simple terms it throws these little guys into a major party and they just begin to ROCK!

You can buy fancy set ups for this if you would like.  OR you can DIY.  Here’s what I did based on Steve’s instructions at Fresh Start.

I grabbed my 5 gallon bucket and put about 4 gallons of water in it.  Since I was using tap water, I let it sit for 24 hours.  After all, if you are making this organically pure stuff you don’t want the added chemicals in tap water like chlorine and fluoride.  So that was an easy first step! 🙂

After 24 hours, the chemistry part begins.  You grab a bunch of worm castings.  Honestly I do not know how they measured out, but after wrapping them in cheesecloth it was about the size of an Indiana cantaloupe and those are pretty darn big!


Then I tied it onto my bucket and dropped it in (this was all so very exciting actually!).  I added about 5-6 tablespoons of Molasses (they get the party going).

tie the bagmolasses

Now you need to get some oxygen in here and that means bubbles.  You can accomplish this with a simple fish aquarium bubbler.  I got mine for 6.99 at Meiers.  Hook it up and let this bubble and do its thing for 24 – 48 hours.

bubbler started

In the end you will have bubbles on top or foam and it is ready to put in your sprayer. ( I was so excited to spray that I forgot to take final pictures!) I sprayed in on all my garden plants and into my soil.  This is so good for everything that I will do this frequently.  It is immediately absorbed since it is in liquid state and it was so easy to do. I am sure my plants and soil are loving it; I know for certain that I got a kick out of doing it!

Have you used Compost Tea?

4 thoughts on “Compost Tea 101

  1. I’m about to. I have LOTS to say about getting compost started (too long for this response), but I recently ran across a recipe like this that I’m going to start using in the “orchard” part of my yard. Although I’ve had a successful garden, I’m getting deeper and deeper into this “soil web” stuff. I find it intriguing!

    • Would love to read about your compost story when you post. Let me know! I never gave soil another thought really and now I am obsessed! 🙂

  2. I don’t think this is a true compost tea. My wife planted some gerber daisies in an old watering can. She layered rocks on the bottom, then threw compost on top of that with a hole for the daisies to sit in, then compost piled on top of the daisy root ball. We forgot to bring it in after the first rain so it got filled with water. Being a watering can, I just poured the compost “tea” onto my garden! Maybe that’s the poor man’s or lazy man’s compost tea.

    • Hi Matt. Thanks for another compost tea “recipe.” I think this is fantastic also. There are a multitude of ways to make this stuff-yep some are deliberate concoctions like this one and some you happenstance upon. I always put coffee grounds in my watering cans filled with water and they just brew away until I use them on my plants. The worm compost tea was the first time I had even heard of compost tea (last year) so I was intrigued and have been making it ever since. Have a great day!

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