Tea: An Unexpected Gardening Aid

Written by  //  September 25, 2013  //  Home Decor  //  No comments

You've probably heard of tea gardens, and garden tea parties.  You may even have considered growing a garden full of herbs suitable for drinking as teas.  But there's another kind of tea that can be incredibly helpful to the growth of any kind of garden: compost tea.  If you have already made compost in your yard, whether in a compost heap, a barrel composter, or even a worm box, you have what you need to make compost tea.

Naturally, you don't want this stuff in your flowered porcelain teacup with a lump of sugar and milk.  But your plants will eat this stuff up, and it's a great boost when your garden needs extra nutrition immediately.  Unlike solid compost, which you add to your soil and which releases its nutrients gradually, compost tea can be sprayed directly on the roots of plants, and the nutrients become available right away.

There are several ways of making compost tea – some simpler than others.  All require three main ingredients: mature compost, water, and time.  And all should be used immediately when they are ready.  Below are three methods for making this teatime garden treat.

The Long Steep

For this method, take a pillowcase and fill it about halfway with mature compost. Put it in a large container full of water (rainwater is best, but tap water will also do), cover, and steep for at least two weeks.  The nutrients will come out of the compost and into the water, and a friendly bacterial culture will form that is beneficial to the soil.  Once it's done, dilute 1 part tea to 3 parts water, and apply directly to plant roots, or leaves when they're not in direct sun.

The Simple Stir

Another method is to simply mix the compost with water in a container (about a pound of compost per gallon of water), cover the container, and stir once a day for at least 5 days.  Afterwards, strain the mixture and use the liquid as is.

Aerated Compost

The current science is supporting an aerated compost tea, that is, one that has been made with air circulating through it.  Aerating your compost tea causes a colony of beneficial bacteria and fungi to grow within it, which is thought to be of even greater immediate value to plants than the nutrients gathered from simply steeping and straining the compost into water.  This is a somewhat more complicated process, but it is still relatively simple.

Essentially, you need to get an aquarium pump and set it up within the container you are using to make your tea.  By running tubing through the water, you cause a continuous flow of air that assists in the development of a healthy mini-ecosystem within the tea, usually within two to three days.  You also want to "feed" your tea with a small amount of molasses, to encourage the growth of the bacteria and fungi.  Once this process is through, you strain the tea as usual, then dilute one part tea with 10 parts water for use on your plants.

With all of these methods, remember to use the resulting tea right away in your garden.  With the aerated tea, this is especially important as the microorganisms can die off before they can be of use.  Also be sure that the compost you are using is sweet, mature, and well broken down before turning it into tea.  Finally, if your compost or your tea has any "off" smells, do not use it!

Enjoy your tea!

 

This article was provided by Samantha Greenbaum, earth-conscious gardener and mother of two. If youre looking for a safe and healthy alternative to helping your garden grow, you might also appreciate new ways to make your home more energy efficient. Samantha suggests getting replacement windows from Houston to avoid air leaks that could be effecting your energy bills.

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