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Compost tea -- the smell

 
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Am I doing something wrong? I've had some compost tea brewing for about a week. Went to use some today and was blown away by the terrible smell (think porta potty without the plastic bit). I seem to have gotten some on my hands and can't wash them enough to get rid of it.

Am I doing something wrong? Does stronger smell mean better veggies (I hope, since I dumped immediately on the closest I could find).?
 
pollinator
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I don't use compost tea but I've watched some videos.  There is a difference between aerobic and anaerobic.  I think the anaerobic (without oxygen) smells much worse but I don't know from personal experience.  I'm not positive on this but I think compost tea is often cut with regular water.

I 've been digging my kitchen scraps right into the soil.  So much easier and I can't seem to pay enough attention to a compost pile to keep it from drying out.
 
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Hi Mr B, It does smell quite pungent, you could try stirring it and making it more aerobic that will help. Best Regards Eric



Lovely Comfrey and Yours Truly




Eric Fisher MSc BSc (Hons)

Author of 'Compost Teas for the Organic Grower' (Permanent Publications)
https://shop.permaculture.co.uk/compost-teas-for-the-organic-grower.html
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'Compost Teas' Page : https://www.facebook.com/TheOrganicGrower
Authors Page :  https://www.facebook.com/AlternativeAgriculture

 
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Describe how you made your compost tea.

Here is a posting about compost tea.
http://culturalhealingandlife.com.www413.your-server.de/index.php?/forums/topic/51-composting-compost-extract-compost-tea/
 
james baxter
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Harry Soloman wrote:Describe how you made your compost tea.



Oh, sorry. I a few handfuls of compost, various fresh garden clippings, and a handful of fruit scraps (as a substitute for molasses). I put all this in a 5 gallon bucket, let it set covered though not sealed, mixed twice a day, for about a week. It foamed a bit the first three days, then died calmed down. Yesterday I noticed the smell. Today was even worse, so I dumped, hopefully for the better.

Harry Soloman wrote:Here is a posting about compost tea.
http://culturalhealingandlife.com.www413.your-server.de/index.php?/forums/topic/51-composting-compost-extract-compost-tea/



Thanks for the link. There's quite a lot to digest there. I'll need to study up.
 
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If it goes anaerobic, it smells vile.  More air circulation is the solution.  I won't make it without an aquarium bubbler or pump aerating it constantly.
 
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You're just smelling anaerobic decompostion.

On the 5 gallon bucket scale, you should be able to find a cheap air pump with bubbler setup at yard sales, second-hand stores, and online; a new, small one, of the type you'd employ for a small fishtank, can be had brand new for around $20.

If you're worried about any additional smell, I would suggest perhaps seeing if you can find any aquarium filtration charcoal, usually packaged like large teabags for insertion into a fish filter pump. I would take three to six of those and two of the type of lid that fit your bucket. I would cut a number of holes matching the size and quantity of your filter bags through both lids and sandwich the charcoal filtration bags between the lids such that the holes are blocked, and fasten the two together tightly, probably with screws around the perimeter of, but not penetrating, each filter bag.

Snap it on, and you can go ahead with anaerobic brewing, if you like, or cut a hole for your air bubbler, and brew aerobically, and also don't worry about smell.

Really for me, if I was doing the bubbler brew, the filter lid would just be something to point to any time I encounter criticism, as an example of extreme and effective smell management measures.

Typically, oxygenated brews produce the types of microorganism that we want in our soils, whereas anaerobic bacteria produce smells and die off when introduced to aerobic soil conditions, where their bodies feed resident microbiota. I don't know if you could have harmed your plants by applying the anaerobic brew, but I definitely think that more instant and long-lasting effects are experienced with the oxygenated brews.

But let us know how it goes, and good luck.

-CK
 
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Hi James,

From my experience, and to get the best results. I would only brew the compost tea for up to 24 hours. At about 36 hours, it would start to smell sour, and from my experience its not good for foiler applications, even less effective for root applications. After that time fram, about 36 hours, the sugars that feed the microb bloom are used up, and the microb bloom dies off. From my understanding even the aerobic microbs, that eat microbs, will run out of food and die off at about the 36 hour mark. The purpose of compost tea is to radically boost micro biology, so if that concentrated bloom dies off, it kind of defeats the purpose. The nasty smell could be the dead and rotting microb bloom, but I also never put fruit in a compost tea. You want simple sugars, like juice, preferably one that's also got balanced minerals to like molasses. For a compost tea, everything should be in a simple form, predigested, for example fish hydrolize is ok to use, because its digested, fish emulsion is not ok to use, as in my experience it spreads disease on sensitive leafs.  Fruit will go rancid, because the oxygen can't get inside the fruit scraps, plus since it's not predigested, it won't even do much to feed the microbs. They need alot of simple foods, ready to use.

Hope that helps!
 
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