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How to Make Compost Tea

written by: Lindsay Evans•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 7/6/2010

You can make your own liquid organic fertilizer for your garden by brewing a batch of compost tea. Here's how!

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    Benefits of Compost Tea

    Making compost tea at home is easy and very beneficial to your garden and houseplants. Compost tea provides an instant boost of nutrients and beneficial microorganisms your plants can use at any time of the growing season. If you have a home compost pile, do your plants a favor and brew them up a batch of tea!

    Avoid using tap water when making compost tea, as most municipalities add chlorine to the water. Chlorine can kill many of the beneficial organisms that instead should proliferate in your tea. Use rainwater, well water or distilled water instead.

    Compost tea can be applied to your plants either by watering the soil with the tea or by spraying on the plants' foliage. Foliar feeding your plants with compost tea provides an instant boost and can help the plants avoid foliar diseases.

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    How to Make Simple Compost Tea

    There are several ways in which you can make compost tea. You can make a simple batch of compost tea utilizing materials you already have at home.

    Add mature compost to a 5-gallon bucket, filling the bucket about 1/3 of the way full. Then fill the bucket with water, leaving room to stir the mixture without spilling. Leave the bucket out of direct sunlight, stirring at least once per day, for 5 to 7 days. Strain the compost tea when brewing is complete by pouring the tea into a cheesecloth-topped separate 5-gallon bucket. This method can be followed with larger containers to make bigger batches of tea.

    Be sure to stir the mixture at least once a day to provide adequate oxygen for the tea making process. Without enough oxygen, anaerobic bacteria can start to grow and make your compost tea useless.

    Your finished compost tea is a concentrated concoction that must be diluted before you apply it to your plants. Add 10 parts water (again, avoiding tap water) to every 1 part of compost tea before application.

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    Compost Tea Brewers

    If you need to make your compost tea in a hurry, you can buy a compost tea brewer. Compost tea makers continually aerate the compost mixture and can produce compost tea in as little as 12 - 72 hours. Home scale brewers can range in price from around $100 to $500 or more. A simple compost tea brewing system is offered by Keep It Simple, Inc. for $140.

    Plans to make your own compost tea brewer are available online, such as this simple plan from Fine Gardening Magazine.