Compost is already the stuff of gardening dreams, namely thanks to its laundry list of plant-friendly nutrients and soil-feeding capabilities, but consider taking the sustainable matter one step further—make compost tea. As implied by its name, compost tea, plain and simple, is compost that’s been mixed with water and left to brew over the course of a few days. It actually rivals regular compost in terms of plant benefits; the liquid organic matter helps fend off diseases, quickens the breakdown of toxins, and works as an organic fertilizer.
Ready to hop on the compost tea bandwagon? (Or maybe you’ve already started with a kitchen compost bin.) Know that the process does take a bit of time and you’ll need to invest in a few supplies, but here’s how to brew your own compost tea from home and give your plants some natural love. Go green, gardeners!
WHAT DO I NEED TO MAKE COMPOST TEA?
Materials will vary based on the type of compost tea you plan to make—aerated or non-aerated. While some gardeners swear by one method over the other, there’s no supporting evidence to pinpoint either as superior. But for simplicity’s sake, non-aerated versions only demand non-chlorinated water, compost, and a large bucket. You’ll need the same for aerated compost tea, as well as an aquarium air pump and tubing to keep oxygen flowing. Some gardeners also add a bit of unsulfured molasses into the brew, which feeds beneficial bacteria.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO MAKE COMPOST TEA?
Before getting started, let tap water soak in your bucket for at least 24 hours to remove any chlorine (skip this step by using rain or well water). From there, the compost tea solution will require at least an additional two to three days of brew time.
HOW DO I DIY COMPOST TEA?
Once you’ve gathered your materials and de-chlorinated any tap water in the bucket, pour in the compost and molasses, if desired. Let the substance soak for 24-72 hours (during which you’ll leave the air pump running for the aerated route). Once fully brewed, strain the mixture and pour the compost tea on your plant roots for immediate absorption. Or, put the tea in a squirt bottle and use it as a foliar spray to apply directly on plant leaves. (Get step by step compost tea instructions from The Prairie Homestead).
WHAT SHOULD COMPOST TEA SMELL LIKE?
Stinky compost or tea isn’t a good sign—the substance should have an overall sweet and earthy odor to it. Never apply a foul-smelling compost tea to your plants.