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Compost Tea Brewer: affordable & DIY

 
pollinator
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So I just built a compost tea brewer for my roommates & I. I spent a lot of time researching how to build it, not very much time & money putting it together, & a lot of time putting together a pretty comprehensive email explaining to my housemates how to use it & why. Since I spent a lot of time on an information-dense email I shared with just a small handful of people, I figured it would be more impactful if I also made it a permies.com post!

BUILDING THE COMPOST TEA BREWER:
This is the main video I used to build the 5 gallon bucket compost tea brewer (after watching a lot): How to make a compost tea brewer for under $30, by pnwgardening

This is another similar 2-part video that explains how I built & how to use the 5 gallon bucket compost tea brewer:
Cheap DIY Compost Tea Brewer (under $30) 1/2 & Cheap DIY Compost Tea Brewer (under $30) 2/2, by Garden Frugal

REMOVING CHLORINE FROM TAP WATER:
This video explains how to remove chlorine from tap water using a 5 gallon bucket bubbler. Conclusion: tap water probably needs to bubble for at least 6 hours, but 24 hours is best according to this video: Chlorine & Chloramine Removal For Compost Tea, by Tea LAB

BREWING COMPOST TEA:
This video shows how to fill the your bag with beneficial microorganisms (compost) & breed them up. Conclusion: he suggests brewing tea for 12 hours, though we may need to experiment with different lengths with our (various) compost(s): How to Brew Compost Tea in a 5 Gallon Bucket to Enrich Your Garden, by Learn Organic Gardening at GrowingYourGreens.

   That last video references the book Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web.

RESEARCH COMPOST TEA IN DEPTH:
If you really want to travel deep into the compost tea world, I highly recommend studying Dr. Elaine Ingham who pretty much pioneered the modern bubbled compost tea process & is constantly doing research to improve it:

Dr. Elaine Ingham video search results,

Dr. Elaine Ingham's website: SoilFoodWeb.com,

Dr. Elaine Ingham on wikipedia: definitely check out the publications, references, & external links on her Wikipedia page, loads of good stuff.


We're currently bubbling up our first test batch of compost tea & I'd love to see it working awesome. I'm open to any & all constructive criticism from you permies on this build to possibly improve it even more.
 
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hau Loxley, welcome to the wonderful world of microorganisms and compost teas. (your going to love the results)

Dr. Ingham is one of the foremost pioneers of this movement.

Redhawk
 
Loxley Clovis
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An update for those interested: Bryant RedHawk was absolutely right! I am loving these results. After gardening for years, then suddenly applying this simple homemade brew, my plants are at least 3 times as large & all the leaves look much healthier in general. I did not do a control to find out if it was the evaporation of the chlorine in the water, or the just bubbled healthy soil that's giving me these results. But I imagine it's both.
Thank you to everyone who creates online blogs & online video content about how to DIY all this stuff. This was the best $40 I've ever spent for my garden!
 
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yay for more compost teas! They are the best and cheapest way to kick start a garden growing. I just turned a good friend of mine on to one of my favorite recipes for tea (he is an avid composter and compost tea user) and he hit me up the next day just amazed at the difference he saw with one application. You guys might like it too

For a 5 gallon bucket of dechlorinated water (rainwater works best) add:
1 Cup (or handfull) of bokashi
1 Cup (or handfull) of worm castings
1/2 Cup (or about a handfull) of insect frass

aerate for between 2 and 18 hours. Remove the bag and, my preference, spray with a pump sprayer over the entire garden area, on all the leaves and stems you can. Or you can water it in directly. I always try for doing it in the evening and then the excess with drip down into the soil, but it makes for some happy happy plants.
 
Loxley Clovis
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stephen lowe wrote:
For a 5 gallon bucket of dechlorinated water (rainwater works best) add:
1 Cup (or handfull) of bokashi
1 Cup (or handfull) of worm castings
1/2 Cup (or about a handfull) of insect frass


Thanks for the recipe stephen. And for clarity, you are talking about adding the bokashi inoculum to the tea, right?
Not "bokashi-fermented" food scraps?
 
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Thank you for this thread, we're building one this weekend for my mothers day present! :)
 
Loxley Clovis
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Heather Ulrich wrote:Thank you for this thread, we're building one this weekend for my mothers day present! :)


You are very welcome. Let us know how it goes. :-)
COMPOST-tea_brewer-_MotherEarthNews.com.jpg
[Thumbnail for COMPOST-tea_brewer-_MotherEarthNews.com.jpg]
compost tea brewer, MotherEarthNews.com
 
Loxley Clovis
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Dear permies,
I have an update for y'all on our 5 gallon bucket compost tea brewer. I recently had a conversation with a farmer friend of mine who just completed a Dr. Elaine Ingham course about the soil food web. She saw my setup & made some amazing leveling up suggestions for several good reasons. Here is the email I sent my roommates after our conversation:

"I'm glad we've been seeing some success with our compost tea brewer over the past few months. However, after talking with one of my farmer friends who saw our brewer & just graduated from a compost course with Dr. Elaine Ingham, the foremost pioneer in the modern compost tea movement, I think it's time that we level up our game to get even better results.

What does "leveling up" look like, you ask? From some of my most recent "deep research" -that I tend to do with stuff like this- what that means are few things:

Shade cloth to protect the brew from excessive summer heat which can kill our beneficial micro-organisms [not in direct sunlight],
• A slightly more purpose-built aerating bubbler that can introduce air in all parts of the bucket so that there are no anaerobic pockets sitting stagnant & is easily cleanable inside & out [not fish tank air stones that can harbor detrimental micro-organisms],
• A purpose-selected air pump (eg. 951 GPH) that can introduce sufficient air bubbles into all the surface area of the tea [not a weak fish tank bubbler],
No longer using molasses. Why not? There's lots of science behind it; but simply put, microbes don't need a lot of sugar in their diet for all the same reasons humans don't need a lot of sugar in our diet.

I'm still on a researching binge & may end up building my own aerating bubbler. Or we can just order a purpose-built 5 gallon brew kit like the BubbleSnake Compost Tea Aerator Kit by TeaLAB. Another option would be the KisOrganics 5 gallon Brewing System.

Here's a great video with Dr. Elaine Ingham & Paul Taylor explaining compost teas in brief; especially take note at the 6 minute & 52 second mark:
An Introduction to Actively Aerated Compost Tea Brewers.

PS- We can & should still use our current bubbler set up to evaporate the chlorine off."

UPDATE: As a household, we ended up ordering the BubbleSnake Compost Tea Aerator Kit by TeaLAB. TeaLAB's product seemed to me to be the easiest & most affordable solution for our situation. We are currently brewing our first batch with the BubbleSnake & the more powerful air pump. I will let you all know the results as they emerge. I am in no way affiliated with either TeaLAB or KisOrganics. I just stumbled upon their products in my research after my conversation with my farmer friend.

We are still using the old fish tank bubbler setup to help evaporate the chlorine out of the tap water. I have the buckets side-by-side & there is definitely significantly more bubbling action happening with the more powerful pump & spiral-drilled PVC tube.

We are also considering getting a backpack sprayer to get a better foliar application to our plants.

FOR THE DIY-er: If you would like to build your own cleanable PVC bubble pipe here's How to Bend PVC & Make Incredible Shapes...
• Heat up some sand,
• Plug one end of a PVC pipe,
• Fill PVC pipe with heated sand,
• Plug up the other end & shape the PVC into a spiral,
• Then drill lots of small holes in the PVC pipe,
• Get the fittings & hoses necessary to attach the spiral PVC pipe to a "commercial" air pump [not weak fish tank air pump],
• Brew serious tea.
 
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