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Organic Compost Tea for your hydroponic system

Ever thought about using and/or making your own compost tea? Compost tea’s have been around and used for century’s, they are used for both a fertilizer’s and to help prevent plant diseases. They are also used for both hydroponically grown plants as well as soil grown plants. Because the nutrients and beneficial bacteria are dissolved in the water solution, plants in a hydroponic system will be able to use them easily. Along with the organic nutrients from the compost, compost tea also contains beneficial bacteria and fungi, the beneficial bacteria and fungi reduce the amount of harmful pathogens, bacteria and fungi. This aids in the overall health of the plants, and their ability to defend agents diseases.

Compost tea is basically just what it sounds like, it’s a liquid solution “tea” that’s brewed from compost. Although it’s brewed using cool water rather than hot water, that way it doesn’t kill the beneficial bacteria and fungi that’s in compost, and so beneficial to your plants. They are also quite organic because they are made using naturally decomposing organic material. The Compost tea can then be either added to the nutrient solution, or sprayed on the leaves as a foliar spray, and/or even both at the same time. A good compost tea can help improve the fruit color as well as taste.

Making your own Compost Tea
Making your own compost tea is much simpler and easer than you might think. But to produce a highly beneficial compost tea, you first need to start with a high quality compost. Your compost tea will only be as good as the ingredients you start with. You can make your own compost from your own yard cuttings and vegetable waist from the kitchen, also even added newspaper or cardboard. Or you can just go down to the local nursery and buy some good compost. Some of the best compost is worm castings (poop), simply made from newspapers and earthworms. But many things make good compost, it’s simply the decomposition of organic matter that produces all of the nutrients and beneficial bacteria and fungi.

Certain beneficial acids help facilitate this decomposition in order to break down the organic mater into the raw nutrients that the plants can then absorb. The main keys to making compost is aeration, moisture and regular turning over of the material, that aids in aeration, thus decomposition. If you have any earthworms you may want to through them in with the material, they really like to eat paper materials, but will devour most organic materials quickly. Just be sure that you separate the earthworms from the final compost before making your compost tea.

Once you have your quality compost, making the tea is quite easy. You just make a large tea bag that holds the compost, and submerge it in room temperature water (don’t use hot water) and let soak like when making tea. Water containing high levels of salts,  heavy metals,  nitrates, pesticides, chlorine or  pathogens should not be used. These will affect the survival and reproduction of beneficial organisms from the compost, and can also adversely affect your plants. So you will want to use good quality water.

You should let the compost tea bag soak anywhere from 1 to 3 days before using, the longer the compost remains suspended in the water, the greater the amount of soluble materials that will be extracted from the compost. You can use anything from a five gallon bucket, to a clean 32 gallon trash can, to a 55 gallon barrels to brew your compost tea in. The larger the container the larger the tea bag should be. Burlap works great to make the tea bag with, but most any fabric will do good, as long as it has not been colored or bleached. You want good water flow through the fabric, the bag just helps separate the water from the compost when it’s time to use it. You can also forget the tea bag if you use something like a pool skimmer, or cheesecloth to strain it before you use it, though the mesh size is important it will need to be small enough to strain the compost particulate from the water.

Although this will produce compost tea, one of the key factors to making a good quality compost tea is aerating the solution. It’s highly recommended to aerate this solution using an air pump, the more bubbles the better, but air stones may clog frequently. So a simple coiled tube with holes in it at the bottom of the container will work fine. Commercial producers that make compost tea for sale find that if the brew remains aerate the beneficial microorganisms will continue to thrive and multiply. The resulting compost tea is much more valuable because it has better disease protection for the plants, as well as more nutrients.

Useful Links
Making Compost Tea
How to Make Organic Mechanic Compost Tea

1 comment to Organic Compost Tea for your hydroponic system

  • Daniel Wilkie

    Can i just start with what a brilliant article you have written. Really informative and accurate. My company produces compost teas and brewer fors gardens, golf courses and agriculture.

    Just to add a little bit more info. We also add with the compost starter packs, these are their to help the bacteria multiply with unlimited sources of food and therfore increasing the amount of bugs thats are produced (more bacteria = better brew). I cant tell you what is in them, however it may be of intrest that we are now selling to the home and garden range these packs along side a very high quality and tested compost that has been analyised making sure all harmful pathogens are not ex. You should also try to avoid using compost that has animal or human waste in them and if you are producing your own a minimum of 6-8 weeks and well aerated compost should be used. It must have got hot enough 65oC – to kill any pathogenic fungi. It should left for long enough for beneficial fungi to develop. Ideally you should have each batch analysed for the components of the soil food web to make sure you are not brewing dirty water

    hope this info is useful

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