A surge in organic growing and composting has also brought a renewed interest in compost tea. Also called “soup,” compost tea is the liquid produced from vermicomposting, which is the practice of raising worms for gardens, plants, and composting piles or bins.
Compost tea is simple to make if you are already vermicomposting or planning to begin worm farming. It is simply a soup made from worm castings (or worm feces, in simpler terms) and the discarded materials left behind by worm foraging. This material becomes a truly great concoction when it is steeped in warm water, much like a tea bag or loose tea. The strained, brownish-colored tea is then added to the garden, to plants in containers, or any place an organic fertilizer or insecticide is required.
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Considerable research has gone into the benefits of using compost tea. Many gardeners and farmers report that produce, including vegetables and fruits, simply taste better. Compost tea applications also seem to account for larger, more prolific crops.
Other important considerations for compost tea use include:
-less insect infestations
-reduction in water needs for vegetation
-applications are non-toxic around pets and children
-lack of salt buildup
-does not burn plants if overused
-no harm to earthworm activity.
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In addition to pest controls, compost tea also attacks and prevents fungus growth. The tea appears to be faster acting when compared to chemical-based pesticides. Even better, compost tea is similar to charcoal. It has no odor and activates to eliminate unpleasant aromas when mixed with animal manure.
If you’re not prepared to enter worm farming as a hobby or small business, compost tea can be purchased commercially. Tea bags are inexpensive and many types can be used several times.
For easier and quicker compost tea saturation, fill a spray bottle. Apply to plants and other vegetation to protect from pests and to encourage full-bodied leaf growth. Sickly plants, thin stemming, and drooping leaves may also thrive with compost tea treatments.
Home compost piles are happy recipients of worm tea. Following the heated phase, beneficial microbes are sometimes destroyed. Compost tea will reactivate the good bacteria and assist in speeding up material breakdown. The resulting humus can then be added more often to gardens and plants. Keep the tea in a spray bottle or other container and shake before using. As long as there is no odor, the compost tea is usable. Once it develops an odor, the tea should be discarded, preferably in a weed patch.