One of the things that has come to the forefront of gardening knowledge in the last few years has been the realization of the effectiveness of liquid fertilizers. Organic gardeners have known this for a long time. After all, for a plant to absorb nutrients they must first be dissolved in water for the roots to take them up.
An additional boost is present if the dissolving has already taken place so that food is already prepared for the plant. Some of the nutrients may be absorbed by other plant tissue such as stems and leaves for an additional surge of growth.
Compost is known to be a good source of readily available nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, the big three of fertilizer nutrients. However, the nature of compost as it comes from a vast array of plant materials determines that it is a fantastic source of the micronutrients that are needed for optimal growth.
Plants fed on compost tend to be healthier, tastier and better looking. So how is one to get the benefits of compost coupled with the benefits of liquid fertilizers? Quite simply, make tea.
The easiest thing to do is consider your nearest teapot and kettle around tea time. While you may throw in loose leaves to strain them later through your mustache or at least a tea strainer, generally one uses a tea egg to hold the leaves or takes a ready made tea bag from the box.
In it goes into the pot and boiling water from the kettle goes in to start the dissolving process of part of the tea and a mass of soluble chemicals from the leaves. After a brief wait the tea is ready to be used and then the residue goes into the compost pile. For compost tea, we do the same.
- Make a teabag. Get a burlap sack or similar and shovel in some compost. The amount is not critical but be generous. There will be no waste. Tie the bag shut.
- Get a tea pot. Five gallon buckets work fine. If you happen to have a dark one, so much the better. Black garbage cans are great.
- Place the tea bag in the tea pot.
- Add water. It does not have to be hot but if you have a hose sitting in the hot sun, it helps.
- Let it sit for a couple of days or longer. That dark can will absorb heat and make the tea stronger and faster. No matter how strong, I have never heard of compost tea made this way hurt plants.
- Remove the “tea bag” and water plants with the tea.
- Put the spent compost on the pile that is accumulating material (remember, there is no waste)
- Refill the bag and start more tea.
Now all you have to do is stand back to watch the plants grow with their great boost. You might even get a cup of orange pekoe and sit back while both you and the garden enjoy your tea.