We will be introducing aerated compost tea and discussing the science behind it and the lack of science supporting some of the claims. We will talk about how one can properly create an aerated compost tea brew, but will alsorecommend against aerated or non-aerated compost teas for the home gardener.2.
Traditional Compost Tea:
traditional compost tea recipes call for taking maturecompost, wrapping it in a sieve of some sort, and soaking it in a bucket of water for several days, sometimes up to a week or more. Any ideas why this is problematic?a.
Beneficial bacteria in the garden are
, meaning that they needair to survive. In an environment without air, such as a bucket of water b.
bacteria need food to survive and replicate, as in a compost pilewhere they have plenty of food to eat and air to metabolize.c.
with no food and air, aerobes will quickly die submerged inwater, especially for days at a time. Furthermore, and worse for us,without air, anaerobic bacteria flourish. So not only are you not getting the benefits you are looking for, you could actually be applying anaerobic bacteria to your garden.d.
the way to apply compost without top dressing or aerated compost tea. Vigorous rubbing of compost between your handsinto a bucket of water. The water can then be strained into a watering canand immediately applied to your plants.3.
Aerated Compost Tea (ACT)
: a scientific form of making compost tea designedto proliferate bacteria and/or fungi populations by creating a medium in whichthey can multiply rapidly and then be applied through several methods to thegarden.a.
high quality compost is an essential ingredient for aeratedcompost tea – a tea with high bacterial counts cannot be made without it.Compost must be tested to ensure a high count of diverse bacteria. b.
The environment in which you are going to be producing your compost tea must be sterile. Have a dedicated five gallon food grade bucket, and clean and sterilize all of your equipment after each use. This isvery important – you are trying to grow bacteria so there should not be anyothers present.c.
Soaps and Cleaning
: Again, remember your goal – to produce a population of beneficial bacteria. To this end, you cannot use cleaningagents or chemicals that are designed to kill bacteria. You need to use eco-friendly cleaners and make sure to rinse thoroughly with water.d.
To that same end – water in Santa Cruz is chlorinated using freechlorine,
chloramine. Chloramine is a stable form of chlorine thatcannot be removed by simply outgassing, like chlorine. Neutralizing dropsmust be used to remove this from the water. Remember – these chemicalsare designed to inhibit bacterial growth. If you forget to do this step, or usechlorinated water, you cannot have a successful tea.e.
: as we mentioned before, air is a necessary component to the survival