Saturday, October 1, 2011

Time for tea

My neighbor frequently referred to her compost tea and this was her freshest brew yet. I had to check it out. Yum. I peaked into the 5 gallon bucket to see the bubbling brew of browns and greens.

Oh, you mean for the plants? I Googled "compost tea" to learn more because isn't that how we all get our information? What did people do before google? I doubt the heavy set of encyclopedias on Oma and Opa's bookshelf would provide the information I seek. Did we just walk around much dumber people 'back then.' I google everything. I once googled "I hate breastfeeding" desperate to find other mothers that struggled like me. Well, hate was too strong a word but for the 6 months that I made it work I did not find it to be the magical experience so many talk of. What's magical about sore nipples, aching breasts, and serving as a 24 hour dairy queen? And if you have a starving cranky infant like me, there is no more than 45 minutes of separation to maybe take a shower or quick nap (and that was for an entire 6 months). In addition, I found more info about nursing than I care to know (think breastfeeding parties) but that still didn't deter me from the online source of information. In fact, every new impulsive plant I bring home eventually makes it into my Google search bubble.

Google provided me with just the information I needed to get started on my tea. For about $10, maybe less, I bought an aquarium pump and tubing. I put 2 shovels of compost from our alien composter in a 5 gallon bucket and filled it with water. This sits right outside of our garage back door closest to an electrical outlet. I put a splitter on the rim of the bucket so I would have three tubes falling into the bucket. I ended up putting small washers of different weights on the end of the tubing so one would fall to the bottom of the bucket, one float in the middle, and one sit at the top. I turned it on and in two days I had tea.
materials (photo from Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection).


1 tbs molasses if desired

brewing tea

It's just that simple. Of course there are kits out there from $50-$200 so you do what works for you. But it all comes down to a little compost and water. The tubing is necessary to aerate the water to keep the microorganisms from decaying. This could be harmful to the plants. You can also add some molasses as a food source for microorganisms. The process can be 2-3 days and I don't know how to tell you when it is done. I think it just is. The tea can be used to fertilize your plants. It is also possible to put some in a spray bottle to spray the leaves of vegetables, etc. This will help prevent disease in plants. A chemical free way to make your plants love you.

As for my compost, I have a kitchen composter on my counter. A carbon filter in the lid reduces the odors. I love it because at least when the produce I pick or purchase goes bad and is beyond edible I can still utilize it. I put in all fruit and vegetable scraps (not meat, dairy, or bread). On occasion I've attracted some fruit/drain flies when not careful to take it out often enough. For that, a glass of red wine or container with plastic wrap and holes filled with vinegar will attract the bugs and drown them (if that's too cruel for you, google humane means of ridding the house of these pests).

Because Chad is terrible at asking for gifts he often gets things from my family that we can use in the yard (his birthday is in May when I'm up to my elbows in yard work). Don't worry, I give him weeks to think about something my dad or my mom can buy him but he has yet to come up with something only he needs. A year or so ago, he was gifted a composter for our garden. We had an old rabbit cage that could now be used for my seedlings. There is a formula to follow for prime compost that I often forget. The proportion of brown to green. Instead, I just dump (I'm not a pro). It can turn but I'm not always strong enough to do that. I don't use it perfectly but I get some amazing compost and again, a reason for my plants to love me (and they show me their love when they produce amazing flowers and ripe veggies).

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