The Ultimate Compost Tea Recipe to Give Your Plants a Big Boost
Compost tea is the drink of champions! Not for us of course, but for our plants. Nutrients are continually leaving your soil through harvesting, rain, soil erosion and tillage. Compost tea is like a quick dose of vitamins and minerals that puts these nutrients back into the ground to help plants grow and thrive.
Making compost tea involves filtering your existing compost to extract nutrients for your plants that they can readily use. But it isn’t just a quick-fix. It should be a part of your long term strategy to increase the overall health of your soil. That’s because compost tea not only makes plants more productive but also better able to ward off diseases.
The best compost tea recipe doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, if you have compost, a bag, and a bucket, you can get started straight away. That said, you can tweak your recipe a bit to best serve the plants you are feeding.
Below are a few recipes you can try, whether you need a simple classic for a few ornamentals or a heavy-duty solution that can feed your entire farm.
How Does Compost Tea Work?
You may be wondering why you should use compost tea when you already add compost to your soil. Adding compost to your garden adds nutrients to the earth, but it’s part of a long-term maintenance process.
On the other hand, compost tea delivers all of those beneficial nutrients you get in compost, only faster. That’s because when you add compost to water and let it “brew,” it steeps out the nutrients and makes them more available to the plants. Kind of like a vitamin makes certain elements more available to your body.
Benefits of Compost Tea
In her book The Compost Tea Brewing Manual, Dr. Elaine Ingham says that compost tea contains thousands of beneficial bacteria and microorganisms. Compost tea also includes the big three nutrients nitrogen, potassium, and potash (NPK), which are essential for building healthy plants. A good compost tea recipe lets you:
- Improve plant growth.
- Replace commercial fertilizers.
- Save money.
- Build better soil.
Basic Compost Tea Recipe
There are many ways of making compost tea. One popular approach is to use vermiculture casting. If you don’t already have a worm bin going, this is yet another reason to start one. Even if you haven’t started your worm compost yet, you can still make a healthy tea.
- Pillowcase or empty bag from rice or wheat
- String or baling twine
- Five-gallon bucket
After brewing, your compost tea recipe is complete. Take out the bag and empty it back into your compost. Now you can use the tea to water your plants.
Adjusting Your Tea
More Bacterial: Some plants, like brassicas, veggies, and grasses prefer a more bacterial tea. To increase bacteria, use 10 parts worm castings with 1 part sugar (molasses or cane sugar is perfect) for your compost in the recipe above.
More Fungal: If you are feeding trees primarily, adjust your compost tea recipe to be more fungal. Use 20 parts fungal-dominated compost, or add mycorrhizal fungi to your compost. Combine with 1 part ground oatmeal and use as your compost in the recipe above.
Compost Tea Brewer
If you are finding that the basic compost tea recipe doesn’t meet your needs and you need a more continuous supply, try making a 5-gallon compost tea brewer using the directions in the video below. Five gallons of tea will feed a 5,000 square foot garden.