So you’re growing an organic garden, but your plants are getting attacked by bugs or fungus or both. Maybe the leaves are turning yellow or brown and dying and you’re not sure why.
Compost Tea Brewer
A compost tea brewer is a great addition to your garden. It can help add nutrients to your plants to help them fight off disease. Your plants will be healthier and less susceptible to pests and the elements.
Compost by itself is awesome, but making compost tea allows your compost to go a lot further and it multiplies the good microbes by 1,000. Basically it gives beneficial bacteria and fungi a perfect environment to spread.
This machine is easy to build and very inexpensive. This is based on a design by renowned gardener Bruce Dueley. He even entered this bad boy in competitions against other brewers that cost in the several thousand dollar range, and he came in second by day 3; and at the end of the entire competition, his was one of the only ones whose microbes were still aerobic (or active).
Benefits of compost tea include:
Increasing nutrients available to plants
Restoring beneficial microbes to soils and plants
Retain nutrients in soil
Improving soil tilth
Increasing root depth
Makes plants stronger and healthier and more resistant to disease and pests. Strong plants don’t need herbicides and pesticides (more about this in a future post).
So let’s get started!
Things you will need:
Aqua tubing (I bought 25′, but 10′ would be sufficient)
2 Large bubble stones
2 Small bubble stones
A 2 pack of t-valves
Paint strainer bag 1 gallon
5 gallon bucket (preferably with a lid though it is possible to rig without)
Make sure you get a pump with 2 places to hook tubing. It is a few dollars more but is necessary.
As far as tools for this project go, you will need a drill with a 1/4″ bit and a pair of scissors.
First, drill 2 holes in the top/side of the bucket about an inch apart. The spacing is not that important, so don’t worry about measuring. I look really serious when I drill….
And drill another hole in the center of the lid.
Next, cut about 6 inches of tubing to connect to each of the large bubble stones, and attach them to the sides of the t-valve. These stones will rest in the bottom of the bucket, so add enough tubing between that it can go from the bottom of the bucket, out the hole on the side, and up to the pump on top.
Do the same with the small bubble stones. These stones will go inside the paint strainer bag.
Most paint strainer bags come with a draw string. This one didn’t, so I had to add one just by tying a string around the bag. This string will be used to suspend the paint strainer bag inside the bucket.
This particular pump is handy because it has a loop on the side where I can tie my string. If your pump doesn’t have one of these, you can just tie a knot on top to keep the bag suspended. The paint bag should be suspended about 2/3 of the way into the bucket. The exact distance is not important; just make sure it doesn’t touch the bottom when you add compost.
The tubes connected to the bubble stones come out the sides of the bucket through the holes and connect to the pump.
You can untie the string and add compost to your bag. I know mine has a few non-decomposed pieces in it, but for the most part, it’s good to go.
I attached it back to my pump. You then fill the bucket up to the bottom line on the top. Important note: if you are using chlorinated water, it is important to let it sit in the bucket for at least 24 hours before adding the compost. If you aren’t sure if your tap water is chlorinated (it probably is), let it sit anyway just to be sure. You can also use rain water which is awesome!
And it’s done!
Run your pump with the compost inside for 6-8 hours, then remove the compost bag. You can pull the airstones out of the compost bag and put them into your bucket, or you can keep them out. The large airstones should provide plenty of oxygen on their own.
Run the pump for an additional 16-20 hours, and then you will have a large batch of compost tea.
5 gallons is enough to cover an entire acre. If you want to water lawns with it, it can be watered down to spread further. You don’t need to dilute it though. You honestly can’t give a plant too much because it will take what it needs and leave the rest. I like to feed my plants every 2 weeks or so.