How to - Organic Gardening

Brew a batch of compost tea

Nourish your plants with this homemade, eco-friendly fertilizer

Setting up your equipment
1. Connect the aquarium hose to the gang valve and attach the valve to the bucket. Make sure the hoses reach the bottom of the bucket.

2. Gently place your mature compost into the bucket, making sure the ends of the hoses are covered.

3. Add the water, filling the bucket about four inches from the top. If you’re using city water, you need to allow the chlorine to evaporate before adding the water to the compost. Simply pour water into the bucket and run the pump to allow air to circulate through the water for about an hour. Chlorine can kill any beneficial microorganisms living in your compost.

4. Mix in the unsulfured molasses. This will provide a food source for the microorganisms since molasses contains several different types of sugar.

5. Turn the pump on and let the mixture brew for two to three days. Stir the tea every few days to mix up the compost, but make sure you don’t accidently pull the hoses from the valve.

6. After the tea has steeped, it needs to be strained. An old pillowcase can be used to strain the liquid into another bucket. The leftover compost solids can be mixed in to your garden or dumped back into your compost bin.

The finished tea should smell earthy and sweet. Apply your freshly steeped compost tea to your plants with a watering can or spray bottle. The mixture should be used within a day or two because the microorganisms will die once the pump is turned off. If the mixture smells foul, don’t use it on your plants – something may have gone wrong during the brewing process.

* The Fine Gardening website has some handy step-by-step photos.

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