AERATED COMPOST TEA

How to brew it and how to use it
Duane Marcus The Funny Farm 4459 Allgood Springs Dr. Stone Mountain, GA 30083 http://tinyurl.com/funnyfarm/

Compost Tea

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WHAT IS AERATED TEA COMPOST ANYWAY?
An aerobica#y brewed, agitated water extract of microorganisms growing in compost.
Compost is suspended in water and subjected to agitation to break loose from the organic matter the bacteria, fungi, protozoa, microarthropods and nematodes. The agitation process keeps the water aerated above 6 ppm (parts per million) of dissolved oxygen thus maintaining the brewing process in an aerobic state. Foods are added at the beginning of the brew to allow the microorganisms to grow and multiply. The amount of food added must be measured to insure that the growing microorganisms do not consume oxygen faster than the aerator can replace it so dissolved oxygen levels do not go below 6 ppm. Temperature plays a part in this process as well in 2 ways. First, the rapidity of growth of the organisms increases as temperatures increase. Secondly, water holds less oxygen as temperature increases. What we can conclude from this is is that the higher the temperature of the water the less food we can add to the tea before it becomes anaerobic.

How do we know we’ve brewed good tea?
Only by looking at samples of the tea under a microscope can we determine if the tea we brewed is any good. We can do a qualitative analysis ourselves to determine if the right kind of organisms are present and in sufficient quantities to do what we want out tea to do. A quantitative analysis must be done by a qualified lab to determine how many organisms and how much biomass of each kind of organism is present in the tea. The ratio of the biomass between bacteria and fungi can be determined so that teas can be brewed for specific uses. For example, grass and cole crops need soil that is predominately bacterial while perennials need soil the is balanced between fungi and bacteria. Trees and shrubs need soil that is dominated by fungi.

How do we use compost tea ?
We use compost tea in 2 ways. As a soil application, we spray it on or sprinkle it on with a watering can. The purpose of this is to increase the quantity of the correct kind of microorganisms in the soil to cycle and retain nutrients, to improve soil structure, defend against disease, reduce water use and break down toxins if present. We need to examine the soil using the methods described above to determine which organisms are needed and in what quantities for best growth by a particular kind of plant. The soil application rate is .5 gal. per 1000 s.f. 4 gallons is enough to cover the whole garden, front and back, of a typical in-town quarter acre lot. The second way we use compost tea is by spraying it on the leaves of our plants. We spray it on the leaves to protect plants from bacterial and fungal diseases and to feed the plants. Leaves are naturally covered by microorganisms, some good and possibly some bad. By spraying compost tea on the leaves we can insure that the surfaces are covered with good organisms which will not leave any place for the bad organisms floating in the air to land and get established. It is essential that both the tops and bottoms of the leaves are covered to protect the leaves effectively. At least 70% of the surface must be covered to get the protecCompost Tea 2

tion the plants need. The only way to be sure that the coverage is adequate is to have the leaves tested by a qualified lab. For our purposes we need to be sure we are brewing really good tea and that we are spraying carefully to get coverage on all the leaves on the top and bottom. The foliar application rate is 1 pint per 1000 s.f. for every 6’ average height of plants. 1 gallon will cover all the plants except large trees on a typical Grant Park quarter acre lot.

How do we make good compost tea?
First we start with good compost. A quantitative analysis by the Soil Food Web, Inc. lab showed that both Mr. Natural Hen Manure Compost and Worm Castings are good composts for making tea, although they have very different balances of organisms so each can be used to make teas for different purposes. Then we need to get rid of the chlorine in the water because it was put there to kill microorganisms . Because it is a gas we can get rid of it by agitating the water with the aerator causing the chlorine to dissipate into the air. Finally we need to put the compost into the water, add the appropriate foods, fungal or bacterial or a combination, and let it brew for the correct amount of time based on temperature. Typically that will be 12 hours. After the brew is finished we need to do a qualitative analysis to make sure the tea is good before we apply it or sell it. We should also smell the tea to quickly determine is seriously anaerobic conditions were encountered during the brew. If it stinks it’s bad. Dump it in the parking lot not in a plant bed! It is very important that we measure the ingredients each time so that we can be sure that each brew is consistent. We will be doing experiments to see how time, temperature, food type and quantity affect the final quality and balance of organisms in the tea.

The Recipe and Ingredients for Making Aerated Compost Tea
1. TEA BREWER - Ours is a KIS 5 gallon brewer 2. COMPOST - 1/2 pound for 5 gallons of tea in a compost tea bag. Bag must have openings 4 micrometers in size. 3. FOODS - Fish and seaweed fertilizer ( 4 caps from the 18 oz. bottle) and humic acid are good fungal foods. Molasses ( the kind without sulphur) and Agave nectar are good bacterial foods. 4. WATER - dechlorinate for at least 1 hour. 2 hours is preferable.

Compost Tea

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RECIPE

1. Fill the 5 gallon bucket with water 2.Insert the aeration tube into the bucket all the way to the bottom of the bucket. end of the coil. being sure the coiled part is Be sure the cork is in the

3. Check to be sure that the aeration holes in the topmost upright tube are in the proper location and facing into the center of the bucket. 4.Turn on the blower and let the water de-chlorinate for 1 - 2 hours. 5.If required place the de-chlorinated water into the holding tank and repeat the de-chlorination process. 6.Drop the compost tea bag filled with the appropriate compost into the bubbling water. 7.Add the the appropriate foods in the prescribed amount. Put on the blue lid. 8.Let the tea brew for the required time. 9. If the tea is to be diluted fill another 5 gallon bucket 1/2 full with water from the holding tank, Pour 1/2 of the brew into that bucket and insert the soil soup aerator into the bucket and turn on. 10. Fill the original bucket with the remaining water from the holding tank. and aerate for 10 minutes before pouring into the sprayer. We use a Solo backpack sprayer with the filter in the nozzle removed to allow the fungi to pass through.

CLEANING UP THE AFTERMATH
After the brew is complete and the tea is either applied or sold all the apparatus must be thoroughly cleaned to prevent the build up of an anaerobic biofilm which will diminish the quality of the tea.

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PROCEDURE
1. Empty the remaining contents of the bucket(s) and scrub them out thoroughly so there is no residue visible on them. 2. Take apart the aeration tube and clean each piece by inserting the cleaning wire, attaching the cleaning cloth to the end and pulling it through the tubes 3 times. Clean out the elbow by inserting a cloth and twisting it back and forth until no residue can be seen. Clean out the end of the bung so no residue is present. 3. Empty the contents of the compost tea bag into our potting mix in old Bessie. 4. Allow all of the components to dry before putting them away in the casita.
INGREDIENTS USING ALASKAN MAGIC HUMUS

1. 1/2 pound compost 2. 4 caps fish and seaweed fertilizer from an 18 oz. bottle

H OW TO USE AERATED COMPOST T E A
Helping to grow plants the way Mother Nature intended

General Guidelines
HOW MUCH DO I NEED? - The soil application rate is .5 gal. per 1000 s.f. 4 gallons is enough to cover the whole garden, front and back, of a typical in-town quarter acre lot. The foliar application rate is 1 pint per 1000 s.f. for every 6’ average height of plants. 1 gallon will cover all the plants except large trees on a typical Grant Park quarter acre lot. You can’t apply too much tea ! HANDLING THE TEA - The tea must be applied within 4 hours of purchase. Don’t leave it in a hot car or the organisms will use up all the oxygen in the space in the top of the jug. If you want to dilute it to get more coverage you must leave your dilution water in an open container for 24 hours before mixing it with tea so that the chlorine can dissipate out of the water. DO NOT ADD WATER STRAIGHT FROM YOUR FAUCET OR YOU WILL KILL ALL THE ORGANISMS. APPLYING THE TEA - We use compost tea in 2 ways. As a soil application, we spray it on or sprinkle it on with a watering can. The second way we use compost tea is by spraying it on the leaves of our plants. It is essential that both the tops and bottoms of the leaves are covered to protect the leaves effectively. At least 70% of the surface must be covered to get the protection the plants need. The only way to be sure that the coverage is adequate is to have the leaves tested by a qualified lab. For our purposes we need to be sure we are brewing really good tea and that we are spraying carefully to get coverage on all the leaves on Compost Tea 5

the top and bottom. DO NOT USE A SPRAYER THAT HAS BEEN USED TO SPRAY HERBICIDES OR PESTICIDES. BE SURE TO THOROUGHLY CLEAN YOUR SPRAYER AFTER APPLYING TEA TO ELIMINATE THE BUILD UP OF AN ANAEROBIC BIOFILM. WHAT WILL IT DO FOR MY PLANTS? - The purpose of applying tea to the soil is to increase the quantity of the correct kind of microorganisms in the soil to cycle and retain nutrients, to improve soil structure, defend against disease, reduce water use and break down toxins if present. We spray it on the leaves to protect plants from bacterial and fungal diseases and to feed the plants. Leaves are naturally covered by microorganisms, some good and possibly some bad. By spraying compost tea on the leaves we can insure that the surfaces are covered with good organisms which will not leave any place for the bad organisms floating in the air to land and get established.

FAQs
How long will it keep before it goes bad? It will keep for about 4 hours, a little longer in cool weather. Don’t leave it in a hot car while you do your shopping or drink a latte at Starbucks. If it smells bad dump it out on your driveway not on your plants. Can I dilute it with water? You will probably need to dilute the tea to get the coverage you want. You must de-chlorinate the water before mixing it with the tea. Anticipate when you are going to be needing to apply tea and fill a bucket with water 24 hours before so the chlorine can dissipate into the air. Will it harm my pet or child? No they and we are covered with the same organisms that are in the tea so it is fine if they come in contact with the tea. ( if you are using tea from another source you need to find out if it has been brewed properly to be sure no harmful organisms are present) Why is the jug only half full ( or is it half empty)? The tea needs to have some air to stay active while you are taking it home. The shaking it gets on the ride home will mix it with the air in the space above keeping it aerated. Will any sprayer work? The openings in the sprayers filters and nozzle must be big enough the prevent clogging and to allow the fungi to pass through. We have tested a number of sprayers to determine if they are good for applying tea. No matter what sprayer you use it must not have been used to spray any pesticides or herbicides. The residues will kill the organisms in the tea. Also you must thoroughly clean your sprayer, including any hose and nozzle, to be sure no anaerobic biofilm can form which will harm the organisms. If you are unsure whether your sprayer will work we can test the tea after it passes through the sprayer to see if what went in is the same as what comes out. The cost for testing is $25.00

Compost Tea

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