David Taylor
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ACT Compost Tea Questions

I read a little about the possible benies that ACT can give the garden, but I'm trying to set up my, albeit crude, system, and I find myself with questions, and most of what I can find on the internet pretty much dismisses the positives of ACT. Ignoring the nay-sayers, what is the best length of time to aerate the tea? Can you aerate it too long? Do you store the tea for a time before using it, or is using it immediately better? How much should it be diluted? If there's a site that gives up that kind of info without fighting over the rest of it, I'd be very appreciative.

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applestar
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I played with that last summer. TheLorax provided a whole BUNCH of links when she first posted about it here: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9219
Check out the youtube video link I posted too -- hopefully it's still there.

I'm definitely starting that operation up again when the weather warms up a bit. I'm positive the ACT warded off and cleared up the powdery mildew on my pumpkins and cukes as well as pulled the corn out of an early slump. Also probably helped the dwarf apple with Cedar Apple Rust. :mrgreen:

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I don't know much about the teas. Never tried it, just find it interesting.
But, have been on several of those pumpkin sites and they swear by it.
Without the tea, you can't get the best of size.
Other site talk about taste, quality, and so on.

The point I found most enlightening is Quality and Quantity(size) is not so much determined by the seeds you have or sun and heat or nutrient in the ground.....Don't get me wrong those are all huge issues........But, one of the big issues is the limiting factors we don't know much about. The aerobic teas, somehow add the right kinds of microbes that suppliment a plants ability to absorb water and nutrients. Now, I am no rocket scientist, but I can understand there are limiting factors in our dirt, just as there are beneficial things.

The ACT(aerobic compost tea) puts the non-limiting factors into the dirt and the liquid form takes it right to the root level where you need it. If these fungii are supposed to be so beneficial, then giving them a boost would have to help in produce production.

As for the wheres and whens of application, I suggest the local AG extension. See what they say.
IMHO

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applestar
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When I was making them, I found that when first started, the mixture just smelled earthy, the way good compost smells, then when the fermentation gets going, and the tea starts bubbling, it gets a lovely yeasty smell, the way bread smells good, the way ale smells good.

One time, my aerator got clogged and stopped working and I didn't realize it for a full day -- the tea lost the lovely wholesome smell and started to smell off. Another time, I just couldn't get around to using it and kept it going for over a week. This time, I think they stopped growing (used up their nutrients, etc.) and the tea lost the active smell -- all I can say is it smelled "cold". I added another tablespoonful of molasses and a handful of bran (I think... it might have been alfalfa pellets) -- 5 gal bucket BTW -- and let it brew another day or two while it bubbled up again.

I guess what I'm saying is "Try it." :wink:

addendum -- if you go the "can of sardine" way, you probably won't get the same lovely smell, but have you noticed that good fish emulsion, though "stinky" has a kind of a "good" stinky smell to them? I suspect it'll be the same way for a fishy ACT. Another good example is the Vietnamese/Thai Fish Sauce and Korean Kimchee. Fish sauce is made with fermented fish, and good Kimchee contains anchovies or squid that is fermented with the cabbage. GOOD FERMENTED FISH SMELL is what you're going for.

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I have been working with teas and extracts for a few years now and can offer some advice...

First of all, when I asked Elaine Ingham about her best tea tip, the mother of compost tea brewing said "If it smells bad, it's bad." Lot of money and a doctorate, and that's the big secret...Elaine's book on compost tea (titled, strangely enough, The Compost Tea Manual), is the bible for brewing, recipes and everything...

Active tea should be used in the twelve to twenty four hour range. Aerating past that point is not helping anything. You can push it more, but risk developing an anaerobic mess (bad smells) when the oxygen in the brew gets used up (usually happens long before the food gives out). Anaerobic tea should not be used on plants as acids and alcohols are building up and could burn, but it is fine to dump on compost (anaerobic bacteria get eaten just like the others do)... You DO NOT store this stuff; brew it and use it. An active culture is using oxygen and the clock is ticking... One gallon should innoculate a thousand sq. ft. or so...

Here is a site that has how-to vids for brewing, among other things...

[url]https://www.safelawns.org/video.cfm[/url]

HG
Scott Reil

David Taylor
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I probably should apologize for starting a new topic when there was already an informative thread going along, but I swear t'Gawd I site searched before I posted. With that said, can those that have tried it give some observations from their personal experiences with this? I would be doing the five gallon bucket, air-pump-from-the-last-time-the-kids-tried-goldfish system.

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The compost from your yard is not going to do much; you need a thermophilic (manure based) compost to really make this effective. There should be almost no identifiable pieces in the compost and it should look like and smell like fresh soil... if it smells bad it's bad, and don't use it (not just sulfur smells but ammonia or alcohol smells are bad too...

There's a ton of recipes and ingredients out there, and everyone has their own twists (I notice in my friend Paul's video we don't jibe on some fine points and application rates, but we agree on the priciple and results; that's why gardening is art and not so much a science). I do recommend Elaine's book fro detailed recipes for specific plants, but the basics are mollasses (about a tablespoon), a teaspoon of powdered chocolate (no not the Quik and not the Dutch processed stuff; the guys who make those kisses are my regular choice) and here's the tricky part; a teaspoon of strained oatmeal (if I was doing trees and shrubs I would do a tablespoon of this stuff). You can substitute kelp pwder here; it would be my first choice actually, but I try to list stuff that we all will have access to). A lot of recipes use fish but I do not brew with fish, only adding it at the last minute before application, as it is an amazing bacterial AND fungal food and can overstimulate biology in a brew to where it consumes the oxygen quickly, as I feed BEFORE starting brewing, it happens quicker than Paul's model where he adds a small amount of food right before application, hence my faster cooking rates (12 to 24 hours) than his 36 hours. Paul's application rate seems a little low to me, but it will still work; it's an innoculant, not a catlyst, and even a small amount will eventualy get the job done...

Look I could do a class (and have several times) on why this works, tell you every detail I know about how this works, but the long story short, this is how Nature fertilizes herself; we are just boosting the process, turning it up to 11, sort of...It is biological innoculation to stimulate microbial grazing with attendant nitrogen cycling and etching of mineral nutrition through a weak acid process, or it's magic (I am on the fence myself... :wink:), but it works a charm either way. Healthy ecosystems make healthy plants...

HG
Scott Reil

David Taylor
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What percentage of manure in the compost is most affective? I've got chickens, so I find myself with a lot of that stuff around.

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applestar
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THANK YOU HG! for the informative post :D
There's always more to learn. I can't wait to start. :wink:
(p.s. DT, thanks for resurrecting this thread 8) )

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Much as compost is to soil, an innoculant, so is manure to compost, so amount isn't as important as the fact it is there. Much as Paul's lower rate will eventually get the job done, so will a lesser amount of manure. Just like a rainforest, healthy soils are biodiverse, and if all the characters are there, it balances itself...

HG
Scott Reil



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