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Compost Tea: Another thread (beginner)

 
Matthew Cumings
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I've been lurking permies for some time and I'm finally on a farm where I get to actually do stuff. Great site, love the work, and thanks for all the advice I haven't said thank you for before. That said...

A.) I searched for "compost tea" and found a couple of threads, but not nearly as many as I expected. This one was helpful. Am I missing something when I conduct a search? I would assume there are more than two threads dedicated to compost tea on this site.

B.) The real problem that brought me here: I've read manuals, watched several videos, and read several different opinions (mostly the "don't use a f***ing aquarium pump and a five gallon bucket!" vs. the "you can produce a high number of beneficial microbes with just a five gallon bust and..." debate). I'm a novice so I just want to go with the five gallon bucket method for starts. Can I do a five gallon bucket, two air stones, two air pumps, good compost (if I read, "your compost tea is only as good as your compost" one more time : ), and rock it out for 24-36 hr?

c.) It's probable this has been addressed numerous times, so please feel free to link me to that thread and we can delete this guy. Cheers and thanks for any help.
 
Mateo Chester
Posts: 148
Location: Zone 4b
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From my experience, compost/earth worm casting tea, depending on how it's made, and when it's used, can be effective.
a/b.) microbeorganics dot com- I have found this to be an accurate source... You can also conduct extensive searches using google scholar.

peace

chester
 
Keith Odell
Posts: 60
Location: Indiana
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I use a 5-gallon bucket and a 30-gallon air pump with no stones (gum up too quick).
Scientifically it may just be dirty water. Everybody that uses it, raves about it.
It is either a placebo or some really, really good stuff.
Either way we're happy.

Good luck.
 
Mateo Chester
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This is a good point, air stones do in fact gunk up. You could just soak your compost or earthworm casting material in water and swirl it around a couple times. A small amount of molasses would go a long way in feeding the microbiology. If you went this method, I'd make sure the water wasn't too cold, and that you let the material sit for no more than 36 hours. Monitor the smell. If it starts to smell a bit, just mix it around. It should smell good right until you use it.

If you want an alternative to air stones, you could build an airlift system, or a venturi system. These systems are easy to clean, and relatively inexpensive in comparison.
 
julian kirby
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I have made a few Bubbled Teas with Dr Earth Kelp, Dr Earth Alfalfa, Ahimsa Neem Meal, Wriggle Worm worm castings, Azomite, Stubb's Natural Charcoal Briquettes, a whole Aloe Leaf; Grandma's unsulphured Molasses, Neptune's Harvest Fish & Kelp Hydrolysate, Dyna Gro Silica Pro Tekt, Peat Humus, Extreme Gardening Azos, and fungi perfecti Endo/Ecto Myco mix for seedlings. EVERYTHING except the Fungi Perfecti mix and Neem Meal should be sourceable locally. I ordered the mix, and Neem meal online. ANY BRAND WILL WORK(charcoal needs to be a chemical free brand), Homemade/Gathered Sources are better.

I use: 1/8 of a cup each the kelp, alfalfa, Azomite, Neem Meal; 4 Charcoal Briquettes, soaked and broken down to powder and chunks; 2 Tablespoons of Molasses; 1 ounce of Fish & Kelp hydrolysate; 1/2 ounce of Pro Tekt; 3 cups peat humus; 1 tablespoon Azos mixed with 1 Teaspoon Myco mix,=; 1 Aloe Leaf, juiced/macerated above the bucket of water; a 5 gallon bucket; a 4 hose aquarium air pump, 2 large Cylindrical Air stones,; and 2 short rectangular air stones. The charcoal, peat humus, and Azos are my additions to the list, I personally think the Bacterium in Azos is super neat, do some research People!!!

My air stones Don't Gunk up that badly, I have the pump sitting right above the bucket, with no excess tubing, only about 3 feet between pump and stone
The original source I got my recipe from states that between hour 6 and 8 of bubbling; any water soluble hormones, and minerals will be available, also the micro organism spores begin to emerge from dormancy.
Between hours 12 and 17 the water is a Bacterially Dominated Environment.
hours 18-23 is a shift towards Fungal Dominance. Hours 24-48 are fungally Dominated.
Strain through some pantyhose before you spray so you don't clog your sprayer.
You can add the Azos and Myco mix after the brewing is done. the Dr Earth brand has Myco mix in it, I just like to have a large variety.
Compost the solids when done! they make a great compost accelerator when you're starting your pile!!!
I Made the 6 hour Tea for a Powdery Mildew Treatment for my aunt's Squash and Zucchini. I was so impressed with how healthy they became that I applied it to everything, EVEN THE LAWN!


I just added it together, and the cost for all my supplies was around 200 Dollars. the pump was 40, the bucket was 2, the stones and tubing were 8, So, 150 dollars for a Years worth of applications to lawn and garden, with leftovers. I purchased the 2.2 pound boxes of dr earth products, 30 pound bag of castings, 10 pound bag of azomite, and 32 ounce bottles of the hydrolysate and pro tekt.
You can grow your own alfalfa and dry it, collect Seaweed while fishing if it isn't prohibited, toss fish in the compost, compost diatomaceous earth, culture your own inoculant/get it from other sources, among other things to get the same similar, or better results, But I am just sharing my brands for anyone who wants to know specifically what I used. Also I am not affiliated with any company, I Just like being thorough.
 
Mateo Chester
Posts: 148
Location: Zone 4b
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How often are you applying this tea? And at what temperature are you brewing? Just curious. Thanks.
 
julian kirby
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I applied every sunday last year after Things were planted, I Have been applying undiluted weekly to the beds all winter (composting in place). the Beds were above freezing all winter, Idk if thats normal from a few inches of plant matter and leaf mulch as it it is my 1st year composting.
Brew temperature was between 45 and 65 for each brew. I don't keep track of temperature, I'm basing it off a guess of average temperature in my garage, or the base of the basement stairs going to the garage when it was below freezing in the garage. Our basement is below the frost line and stays an average above 45 in the winter. My Temperature measurement is in Fahrenheit.

I allowed the last Tea I made to bubble for a week,I added a small amount of fish hydrolysate and molasses as the fish smell went away(every other day), I assume that is a sign of Microbial Activity(I have bubbled the hydrolysate for multiple days by itself and it still smelt fishy). The brew smelt of River water, I applied it, but things are just starting to green up, and the lawn is being slow, but it just started to green up so I'm not expecting miracles, just improvements. I am considering picking up either some High Nitrogen organic amendment (blood, manure) to see what that does to the Tea, also gonna go to a Local Seafood Restaurant and try and get their shells, I would rather not have to buy a waste product and have it shipped to me, seems strange. For those that haven't Researched, Crustacean shells are made of chitin, so are insect shells, by adding chitin to your soil, the bacteria that eat chitin get a huge food source, release enzymes and acids to digest it, and in the process create an environment that is hostile to insects. Don't overdo it though, too much chitin eating bacteria can have an adverse effect on fungal populations, so use it at the recommended application rate, I'm going to start out with half a teaspoon per gallon of water in addition to the rest of my tea ingredients.
I'm going to be applying to my neighbors maple tree as it overshadows my garden and is riddled with Powdery Mildew, I think it is the local infestor. It is a Beautiful tree, and I am hoping that a root drench with compost Tea W/ Neem will assist greatly. I will get his permission first of course, but I think he would like to see his lawn w/o a white powder on it too.
 
Mateo Chester
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Location: Zone 4b
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Do you have a microscope? Are you working with amended soil? Or are your teas your primary source of plant nutrients? Is hydrated sodium calcium aluminosilicate water soluble? Is calcium carbonate water soluble? Is it possible for chitin eating bacteria to function properly in a water solution? Do mycorrhizal fungi survive in water for extended periods of time? Will they reach the plant roots by leaching? Have you ever heard of anyone, or been suggested by anyone to put raw, uncomposted manure in teas? Can microbiology derived from compost or earthworm castings survive for 168 hours (1 week) in a water solution? Are they able to multiply in these conditions? Does compost/ earthworm casting derived microbiology survive and multiply in 45 degree F water? Just wondering because I want to make sure beginners are receiving accurate information and are not discouraged from exorbitant potential costs.... Please reference the following: http://microbeorganics.com
 
julian kirby
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I am not working with a microscope. I apologize for not stating more clearly that I am unsure as to the how it works part. I did state that I was making an ASSUMPTION about the relationship to fish smell and amount of non-broken down Fish & Kelp hydrolysate, should have capitalized in my previous post.
My plants like it, I love my plants, they get what they like.

When I mentioned microbial levels at certain times of brewing was what I have found while researching. I did also suggest adding the myco mix/Azos after brewing to ensure inoculation.
Your questions about water solubility are my questions too, I need to more knowledge. I Have read about uncomposted manure in a tea, but I am unsure, and would need information about the health of the animal it was from.

Plants from my local environment are alive and well in the mid 40's, well naturalized varieties anyway, and I have seen mushrooms in temperatures above freezing weather, and I am semi certain bacteria and other microorganisms, although not at peak efficiency, are alive too. Their ability to survive in cold water is questionable, which is why I added the charcoal, peat humus and azomite, to create places for spores to settle and potentially live until they get introduced to roots. As to there long term survival in water, I do not know, and I would suggest reintroduction if you feel it necessary. During the spring and summer I am highly confident that there is multiplication in spring/summer weather. I did not go into detail about my applications over the spring/summer of last year because they were pretty much what you see from what everyone else does. The winter application I felt was abnormal and worth sharing about.
The chitin eating Microorganisms survive in the ocean, lakes, rivers, aquariums . I am hopeful that they will survive in the water, and thrive on the shells.

I love that website and recommend anybody even thinking about making a Compost Tea reads it!!! All of It! SERIOUSLY. Thank you for posting it.

I agree that my choices of ingredients were costly, but when given money to spend how you want by your grandmother for your birthday, spend it on what makes you happy, and experimenting and gardening make me happy, so that mix is what happened. Gardening does not have to be expensive at all! I just wanted to do something less frivolous with my money for a change.

Matt thank you for asking questions. I am a beginner, and all knowledge that can be shared on this subject is greatly appreciated.
 
Mateo Chester
Posts: 148
Location: Zone 4b
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JK,

I am appreciating this dialogue. So thank you. Let me start off by saying that I have been humbled by failure in the compost tea making realm, and feel I have learned a lot from my mistakes. That being said, I appreciate your openness to new information from a seeming stranger. I assure you my intentions are good and I want the best for anyone I have the opportunity of interacting with in life, never mind on this site. My experience is backed by time and extensive research on this very subject, and so if I read something new, I am sometimes overly curious. The questions I asked were in regards to such new information, so please excuse me if I was a bit direct, I meant no dis respect.

1. On the smell of the fish hydrolysate- I tend to agree with this. Lack of smell over time very well might equate to the assured presence of microbiology. I don't have microscope either (thats where Tim Wilson's Site comes in handy), but I think that logic is sound. Happy plants are always a good indicator of successful methods. I think everyone would agree.

2. Manure in tea- My only suggestion is to be aware of pathogens. At the VERY least, wash your hands well I also just read an article in Mother Earth News about testing compost of animals fed inorganic contaminants like pesticides, herbicides and the like, which were then detectable in trace amounts in the compost.. Something to look into.. I think this is my biggest concern and given the potential of it being of harm to your health, and depending on what you are trying to achieve by using this material in this manner (nutrients, inoculation, etc.), I am sure folks here including myself would be glad to offer alternatives...

3. Blood in tea- Same deal. Slaughterhouse blood from nasty antibiotic ridden, hormone infested death holes should be avoided at all costs. For your information, blood IS soluble in water, but I would most certainly use FISH MEAL if you were die-hard on using blood. Alfalfa and Kelp (recipe below), will fill all the gaps Manure and blood would.. At least raw manure..

4. "Charcoal, peat humus and azomite, to create.." - I would be cautious of this reasoning. I am sure on some level, simply given it's presence in the tea, some micro biology will be present on these materials, but I think the simple cost of azomite, and peat negate it's necessity. You are way better off adding other forms of organic matter for which to create "microbial earthships" (compost, earth worm castings, plant material to make Botanical Tea- plant material BUBBLED in water for 24-48 hrs gives great effects). The peat would, if anything, diversify the microherd by adding it's own "consortia" of beneficials.

5. Chitin/Chitinase- Something I am still researching. But for what it's worth, I only put Crab/Crustacean meals IN the soil. Thats just me, but here are some articles you might find interesting, especially in light of our conversation in regards to mycorrhizal fungi. I don't know how deep you want to get, but here it is anyways:

a. http://plantbiology.unibas.ch/molbio/molbio.htm
b. http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2556926?uid=3739568&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21102033801561
c. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17364687
d. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15267156
E. And to your point- http://www.jbc.org/content/266/36/24260.full.pdf Thanks

6. Yes, that website has been foundational in my learning curve.. Mr. Wilson is on point..

7. I didn't mean to dog the money thing, but just like everyone, I am constantly trying to cut costs and replace one thing with another more local, sustainable, less mined, healthier - thing. It is a continuous experience, and one of knowledge building to say the least. But I had to bring it up because I truly feel that from my experience, you can probably achieve the same thing with a fraction of the material/cost. Again with due respect. That being said, let me share with you a mini, simple, and potentially free recipe that was once shared with me, and extensively put to use.


Alfalfa/Kelp Compost/Earthworm Casting Tea: Microbiological Innoculation, Macro/Micro nutrients, a boat load of natural plant growth regulators, auxins, cytokinins, giberellins (Source: Seaweed and PLant Growth by T.L Senn), microbial food/activation, Triacontanol (alfalfa), amongst many others.

Per 4 gallons of water (because if you fill one of those 5 gallon buckets to the brim and pump air into it, you might get some on your face..

1 Cup Compost
1 Cup Earth Worm Castings (you can use less of both, but I have plenty.)

2 TBSP per Gallon Kelp Meal (will obviously vary if using freshly harvested seaweed)
1 TBSP per Gallon Alfalfa Meal
1 TBSP per Gallon Unsulphured Black Strap Molasses

Bubble for 24-36 hours. Apply directly and undiluted as soil drench. Use these numbers as minimums and adjust them according to plant response.

Again, the dialogue is much appreciated.

cHeStEr



 
Mateo Chester
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Location: Zone 4b
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This might also help someone out there looking to into compost teas.

http://www.acresusa.com/toolbox/reprints/Dec03_Compost%20Teas.pdf
 
Jason Learned
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Location: Czech Republic; East Bohemia; Latitude 50˚ 12' 34"
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I don't know where to place this post, but it mentions chitinase in one of the posts so I thought I would share what I just learned about this enzyme.

A guy I met accidentally found a way to create this in worm castings and when applied onto plants roots, just around the base of the plants, the bugs would flee. Aphids would leave by the next day. The pine beetle would back out of the trees. The chitinase is used by fungi and worms to break down the exoskeleton of bugs, the plants take it up and then taste icky for lack of a better way to put it.

So here is his recipe, kind of simple.

You can make the enzyme by growing your worms with lots of leafy vegetables to ensure there will be dead insects in it and have dry material that has mushroom mycelium as well. The spores have chitin and the mushrooms dissolve their coating with the enzyme which is eaten by the worms which enhance it or create more through their eating the dead insect parts. And then it is passed through to the castings. I was warned to not add more bugs as it can crash the system. The flies and their pupa cover should be enough.

There are some labs that can test the worm casting tea or castings for the presence of chitinase enzyme. But I think if you put it on a plant with bugs and the bugs either stay or go you will know if you fed your worms right. I mean you can always change their diet.

His garden is in a rather barren area where there are lots of insects. His plants grow strong and taste really great and don't have bugs, but the neighboring areas do. We are talking the shade of green changes there are so many bugs around.

I think I will use this just on plants of mine that are rare and I won't have an easy time replacing them. I know there is something to be said that maybe the aphids are getting rid of a plant that does not belong there, however, if all of my ash trees were being attacked by that beetle, I think I would give my trees a boost of this every year.

I hope this helps anyone interested in organic alternatives. I just had to share this with someone.

Jason

 
Bruce Kirk
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I have a question with respect to extracting microorganisms from thermal compost. Can I use material from an active thermal compost pile to make compost tea or are there reasons not to do this. I have checked under a microscope for microbial activity and it is full of microbiology ( mostly bacteria )

Thanks
 
Ben Zumeta
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dog duck hugelkultur
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Bruce, in my experience that works very well. Actually, besides the obviously foolish additions of poisons or antimicrobial woods, I can't think of many real "do nots" in compost tea making. Just do it.
 
Harry Soloman
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Bruce Kirk wrote:I have a question with respect to extracting microorganisms from thermal compost. Can I use material from an active thermal compost pile to make compost tea or are there reasons not to do this. I have checked under a microscope for microbial activity and it is full of microbiology ( mostly bacteria )

Thanks


Yes, this is great stuff to use and I always include it.

I like some fish emulsion, kelp, compost pile, worm castings, rock dust (only useful if you do this regularly to help mineralize soil over time) molasses and a we bit of sea water or a bit of tomato paste.  Add any myco after brewing.
Their is much debate that adding humic and fulvic acids can negatively effect the micro life when being brewed.  I cannot tell but I leave out or add at the end.

About 1 cup of tea to 5 gallons or so of water.  I have never burned plants with the above and is good foliar too.  If adding foliar add some yucca or anything for a wetting agent as to ensure even spread on the leaves.  Both sides of leaves in morning or evening hours but I like mornings best.

to make more vegative add nitrogen guano and alfalfa
to make more fruiting/flowering add more phospherous guanos.


Also this bit from Julian Kirby post is great info too:
The original source I got my recipe from states that between hour 6 and 8 of bubbling; any water soluble hormones, and minerals will be available, also the micro organism spores begin to emerge from dormancy.
Between hours 12 and 17 the water is a Bacterially Dominated Environment.
hours 18-23 is a shift towards Fungal Dominance. Hours 24-48 are fungally Dominated.
Strain through some pantyhose before you spray so you don't clog your sprayer.
You can add the Azos and Myco mix after the brewing is done. the Dr Earth brand has Myco mix in it, I just like to have a large variety.
Compost the solids when done! they make a great compost accelerator when you're starting your pile!!!


I try to follow aspects of Natural / Korean farming and want to taper that with permaculture aspects but I am just a pup.


 
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