Does anyone have good resources on making compost tea? A generic formula to start with? How much compost, how much water, how long to aerate, rate of application? Thanks!
 

Darron Gaus

Moderator
My typical formula for a general use compost tea is
Per 5 gallons of de-chlorinated water:
-1/2 pound quality active compost
-2 Tbls Molasses
-2 Tbls Liquid Seaweed
-2 teaspoons Fish emulsion

Brew for 24-48 hours, use air stones to make smallest bubbles possible for more surface area, and use the tea within 4 hours for best results. If it smells bad, don't use it.

As far as rate of application, depends on what you are trying to accomplish, foliar spray, soil drench, new compost starting inoculation etc.

You can brew more specific microbes with numerous types of feed specific formulas, but this formula worked well for general use.

Dr. Elaine Ingham and the resources she offers are a good starting point.
 
My typical formula for a general use compost tea is
Per 5 gallons of de-chlorinated water:
-1/2 pound quality active compost
-2 Tbls Molasses
-2 Tbls Liquid Seaweed
-2 teaspoons Fish emulsion

Brew for 24-48 hours, use air stones to make smallest bubbles possible for more surface area, and use the tea within 4 hours for best results. If it smells bad, don't use it.

As far as rate of application, depends on what you are trying to accomplish, foliar spray, soil drench, new compost starting inoculation etc.

You can brew more specific microbes with numerous types of feed specific formulas, but this formula worked well for general use.

Dr. Elaine Ingham and the resources she offers are a good starting point.
Thanks Darren this is great, I appreciate having a basic recipe to disseminate. I will send it to DK, who contacted me requesting some basic information as you have provided. Below are other resources I found on compost tea I sent to her:

Untitled.png
Dear DK,

I have sifted through some resources on compost tea and have attached several guides to this email. One of them is Elaine Ingham's handbook, not sure if you've seen this but hopefully it will breakdown some of the videos you have watched.

But for a good basic guide I recommend Rodale's Compost Tea How To Guide. It provides material lists and directions for aerated and no-aerated compost teas.
Other guides that go deeper into the topic that I have attached include:

Notes on Compost Teas: A Supplement to the ATTRA Publication Compost Teas for Plant Disease Control. This paper by Steve Diver is dated, and some of the links may be dead, but Steve's information has always been impeccable.

Compost Tea 101: What Every Organic Gardener Should Know is a guide by Arizona Extension, and provides methods for ensuring compost teas remain free of pathogens.

Tea Time In the Tropics: A handbook for compost tea production and use is a SARE handbook that provides broad and in-depth summaries of the science and technology of compost tea.

Aerated Compost Tea: A Field Guide to Production Methods, Formulas and Application Protocols is a SARE research report that covers food safety, farmer assessments, basics of compost tea, and guidance for a 40-gallon brewer.
 

Linda Poole

NCAT Regenerative Grazing Specialist
Anyone with advice for building a brewer on the cheap? I see your last reference above includes information on building a brewer, Lee, but I'm looking for something I could cobble together from items on hand. Don't laugh too hard, but I've even wondered if it would work to assemble the ingredients (along with several buoyant sticks or balls) in a tightly covered 55 gallon drum, secured in the back of my pickup while I drive around on our washboard gravel roads for 2-3 hours (basically a trip to town and back). It wouldn't be enough time to go anaerobic and the sloshing should provide a lot of aeration -- maybe?

Okay, go ahead and laugh, but I'm a shepherd and we make money largely by not spending it! 😊
 
Hmmm interesting!!! Ok I've stopped laughing now. I think the sloshing would certainly provide mixing... but how to introduce air into the barrel? Maybe a big scoop make of sheet metal (from an old barn roof maybe) riveted to the roof of the truck and funneling air into a dryer vent hose that leads into the barrel? You'd have to maintain speed to force enough air in :p

I think you should go for it! But... if you choose to build something from on hand materials and maybe make a trip to the local hardware store for some simple basics, I recommend this old plan I found from Oregon State.
 

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Mike Thayer

New member
In absence of good compost, would it be feasible to use partially aged bedding pack consisting of corn stalks, waste grass/alfalfa hay, millet hay and sheep manure to make an extract or tea to apply to seed?
 

Mike Thayer

New member
Re: above post: or would I be better off just going to the garden store and buying a sack of commercial compost?
 
In absence of good compost, would it be feasible to use partially aged bedding pack consisting of corn stalks, waste grass/alfalfa hay, millet hay and sheep manure to make an extract or tea to apply to seed?
Thinking about this... and the main issue that comes to mind is pathogens. Fully composted material has been, if temperature and aeration is maintained, brought to temps to eliminate pathogens. I am not sure the process of using the feedstocks you mention and making a tea would ensure this. If you use this method, I would be careful to use the tea on non-edible plants or as a soil drench.

Anyone else have any ideas? Am I on track here?
 

Mike Thayer

New member
Thanks Lee. I would be using it as a seed treatment or soil drench. The other concern that I thought of is, Dr. Christine Jones says applying raw manure is as potentially harmful as applying commercial nitrogen. So that may negate what we are attempting to do.
 

Linda Poole

NCAT Regenerative Grazing Specialist
Thanks Lee. I would be using it as a seed treatment or soil drench. The other concern that I thought of is, Dr. Christine Jones says applying raw manure is as potentially harmful as applying commercial nitrogen. So that may negate what we are attempting to do.
Good point, Mike. As your post hints, the way we handle manure has huge impacts on the whether we are creating pollutants or soil nutriments. The best way I've seen for manure to be beneficial to soil, the climate, and in many cases our pocketbooks, is through bale and swath grazing. I know you're already using this practice with good results. (y)

I've heard Nicole Masters recommend the use of compost extract made from vermicast as a pre-planting seed treatment. I've not seen comparison of the various treatments on seedling establishment, so I'm sorry not to offer more solid info on the topic. Johnson-Su compost incorporates worms through the majority of its lifecycle, and I'm guessing (yes, just a guess!) vermicast extract might be an alternative to Johnson-Su compost extract for seed treatment or soil drench.

Whatever you try, it would be great to hear how it turns out -- we learn faster and better when we learn together! Thanks!
 

mikethewormguy

New member
Anyone with advice for building a brewer on the cheap? I see your last reference above includes information on building a brewer, Lee, but I'm looking for something I could cobble together from items on hand. Don't laugh too hard, but I've even wondered if it would work to assemble the ingredients (along with several buoyant sticks or balls) in a tightly covered 55 gallon drum, secured in the back of my pickup while I drive around on our washboard gravel roads for 2-3 hours (basically a trip to town and back). It wouldn't be enough time to go anaerobic and the sloshing should provide a lot of aeration -- maybe?

Okay, go ahead and laugh, but I'm a shepherd and we make money largely by not spending it! 😊
Linda,

I have seen folks modify an old washing machine to make an compost/vermicompost extraction platform.

my 2 cents,

Mike
 

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