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Small batch of compost tea  RSS feed

 
Arthur D. Sullivan
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I am curious if it would be feasible to make smaller amount of compost tea, like a mason jar full of it. How long would it take to brew up? Would a stir or shake every now and then be good enough to aerate it?
 
R Scott
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The smallest aquarium pump and stone should aerate it just fine. I wouldn't do less than a gallon jar, though, even if you only want a quart of finished tea. It tends to foam plus you need enough room for the tea bag
 
Arthur D. Sullivan
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does it really need so much oxygen that it requires a pump? I've got some compost and I wanna try a hand at using it to make compost tea. can anyone direct me to a good source or thread on it? I found one, but not much more than that.
 
John Elliott
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There are good reasons to invest in a small aquarium pump and diffuser stone and it will set you back less than $10.

The continual flow of air through the water does a couple of things: (1) it purges the chlorine out of the city tap water in a very short time. You could do that the lazy way by letting the water sit overnight before using it, but that just adds another waiting step. (2) it raises the oxygen content of the water to a saturated level, so you need never worry about anaerobes hanging around. Although there are aerobic bacteria that are pathogens, it's the anaerobes that are particularly nasty (like Clostridium). (3) It purges CO2 from the solution, taking away a waste product that if it hangs around, can put a damper on the kind of bacterial growth you want in your compost tea.

Another way to keep compost tea from foaming is to add biochar to the bubbling batch. Foam is indicative of proteins in the water, and biochar will absorb those proteins -- to the benefit of any microorganisms that have set up house in the biochar. I keep a 5 gallon bucket of compost tea bubbling on the back deck and I never run out of uses for it. When the weather is sunny, I usually use it up and make a new batch on a daily basis. When we get a lot of rain, that's when it can just sit bubbling away for 3 or 4 days.
 
R Scott
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It definitely needs a pump if you want to grow the beneficial microorganisms in the tea. They will use up the oxygen in under an hour if they are growing.

Now some people (like Darin Doherty) advocate creating a starter--just mix in the compost and molasses (sugar/food source and micronutrients) and spread it immediately. That will let them grow in the ground without all the complications of a brewer.
 
Arthur D. Sullivan
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is it common to use molasses while making the tea as well?
 
John Elliott
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Arthur D. Sullivan wrote:is it common to use molasses while making the tea as well?


I'm a cheapskate, and molasses costs money while chicken turds are free. You want something that has simple carbohydrates that are easily digested by bacteria. Like anything that you forgot in your fridge that now has mold growing on the top. Just blend it up with some water and toss it in the compost tea bucket.

The difference between compost and compost tea is one of time -- compost is made from solids that have to have their physical structure broken down by microbes growing on the surface. Compost tea is a liquid culture of microbes with maybe a few small solid particles floating in it. Since there are no big chunks, there is nothing to impede bacterial metabolism from working quickly. You hardly ever want to keep a batch of compost tea bubbling for more than a few days, like 5 days tops.
 
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