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stella1751
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soil wrote:were good sorry, at a forum i used to visit. i was constantly defending myself over the dumbest things, a bit of a bad habit :D this place is nice.
Soil, nothing to do with compost tea (sorry), but I know the forum you're talking about. I belonged to it about five years ago, and most of the members were dogmatic and rude, really nasty to one another. I finally quit it. I wasn't learning anything, and I was getting tired of being bullied and patronized.

When I found The Helpful Gardener, I thought I'd give gardening forums another try. This forum is NOTHING like that other one. Members discuss things as though the other member had something to share or had something he or she genuinely wanted to learn. I understand your defensiveness; I was that way too when I first started this one. I HATE it when people treat you like you're stupid :evil:

Anyway, this forum's a good 'un, with some terrific people who don't take themselves too seriously 8)
"Imagination is more important than knowledge." -- Albert Einstein

top_dollar_bread
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hey sltella,
i too think the helpful gardener is the greatest legit garden forum i have came across. this place is just full of organic gardeners and people that i can relate too..
I am also really happy this has know become a sticky :D , again great forum!!!!

HG and Soil,
thanks for the info on the water, if i had a stream near by id take some. all i got is my fish tank & i was thinking of using the tank water to replace my tap...??
is this a bad idea?
HG
this stuff is great, awesome links bud..

So what do guys and gals think of wheat grass for compost and or plant tea's?
i just planted a batch a week ago and its ready to harvest AGAIN.. this stuff grows like mad and from my understanding really good for my health.
This got me thinking about using this stuff on my plants?
Wheat grass contains all sorts of amino acids, minerals, vitamins enzymes etc etc
https://www.hippocratesinst.org/Wheatgrass/Benefits-of-Wheatgrass.aspx
any thoughts?
im thinking of testing strait wheat grass plant tea on some plants, also might use it as a top mulch and may grow a nice patch for greens to my compost, this stuff is just too easy to grow…

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soil
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i would just use the fish water as a soil drench, it will end up as N and a few other nutrients for the plants. maybe you can just add a cup or so to your tea batches? to introduce maybe a few different microbes that are not in your compost.

i grow wheatgrass here for morning juicing( fast breakfast with a kick), i don't think it would be cheap to grow it for compost/compost tea. i have added some leftover juice into tea batches though. usually a ounce or two of liquid. cant say it helps or if it doesn't, i haven't done it in a while as more people are using the juice here and last time was before i had a microscope.

i have used diluted wheatgrass as a foliar spray with good results (1:20-1:50 dilution). though some people say foliar spraying doesn't do anything, i have to disagree, it does something. to me it at least helps the leaf surface micro organisms. but that is off topic sorry
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

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gixxerific
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top_dollar_bread wrote:hey sltella,
i too think the helpful gardener is the greatest legit garden forum i have came across. this place is just full of organic gardeners and people that i can relate too..
I am also really happy this has know become a sticky :D , again great forum!!!!
Ditto and ditto again. 'Bout time it was a sticky. :P

Still reading and learning, but I have nothing to add that compares to what has been going on lately.

Carry on the great work, glad you showed up Soil to add to this wonderful thread. :D

I think we should all thank Stella for starting such a great thread. I already have elsewhere

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Thanks for all the head swellin' comps , folks. Does a body good... :)

Soil, the study decrying compost tea as a foliar (and the hundreds of posts elsewhere parroting it) fail to mention one thing about the study. NO assays were done for the compost tea! There was NO quantification of biology done before hand. The other thing they did (that just ruins the experiment in my mind) was to use Nu-Film-P, a spreader/sticker made from pine resins, before spraying. This shows a complete misunderstanding of compost tea as 1) pine is a fairly powerful antibacterial/antifungal (Pine-sol, anyone?) and 2) fungal and bacterial lifeforms make plenty of their own "sticker" to begin with (polysaccharides, etc.). Just dumb.

Foliar applications are minimally using good feeding sites, but I have anecdotally seen excellent suppresion of disease, even curative powers in compost tea application. Their recipe looked good, and they were using Jim Sotillo's brewer, which is a good one, but the devil is in the details, and they got those wrong. I continue to assert that foliage application establishes biological colonies on the phyllosphere that offer both passive and antagonistic countercultures to plant pathogens (translated: critters in the tea live on the leaves, so bad guys can't, and some of our good guys even eat bad guys, so there :P )

HG
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soil
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haha THG i know what you mean. funny they didnt test the compost tea before application. you would have figured a experiments like that would involve at least a little thought ahead of time. pine oil! wow that would be the last spreader i would ever use. IF i use a spreader/stickier its yucca extract. i used to make my own in southern California where the yucca was plentiful. worked great other than the massive foam factor ( yucca + compost tea = foam everywhere ) but like you said, you don't even need it. the microbes make their own and do their own job, as usual they don't need our help :)

on another note my fungal tea is done, the hyphae are getting larger and its ready to be applied at least from my view. the fruit trees getting ready to go dormant will love it.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

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Only a few places I know of doing good assays, but considering the test was done on Long Island, where Paul Wagner runs a SFW lab, seems they might have gone there for the couple of hundred bucks. What's that in the educational maw of somewhere like Cornell? I dunno, it just doesn't make sense to me...

HG
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top_dollar_bread
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soil wrote:i would just use the fish water as a soil drench, it will end up as N and a few other nutrients for the plants. maybe you can just add a cup or so to your tea batches? to introduce maybe a few different microbes that are not in your compost.
THanks soil
soil wrote: i grow wheatgrass here for morning juicing( fast breakfast with a kick), i don't think it would be cheap to grow it for compost/compost tea. i have added some leftover juice into tea batches though. usually a ounce or two of liquid. cant say it helps or if it doesn't, i haven't done it in a while as more people are using the juice here and last time was before i had a microscope.
thanks,ill start some seeds and run a side by side test, to see if it helps
soil wrote: i have used diluted wheatgrass as a foliar spray with good results (1:20-1:50 dilution). though some people say foliar spraying doesn't do anything, i have to disagree, it does something. to me it at least helps the leaf surface micro organisms. but that is off topic sorry
IMHO foliar spraying works (well at least on my garden), i foliar my garden plants all the time.
Compost tea, im sure increases the foliar food web and nutrients can be given to our plants with foliar application as well. My tomatoes, peppers and lots of herbs respond very well when i foliar spray. (epson or compost/gypsum tea)
I like to use alfalfa, epson salt, kelp, and fish products, im sure any plant tea would work well.

top_dollar_bread
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agave

what do you guys think about using agave nectar in my brews?
[img]https://farm3.static.flickr.com/2568/4049906295_4b07d24afa_o.jpg[/img]
??? :idea:

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Not really the same carb kick you get from sugars;, my (weak) understanding is it sweetens differently which is why diabetics can use it. Same with stevia; sweet, but no long chain glucose for critters to munch...

Honey, sugar, mollasses grain teas (pasta water is great), beer...; think carbs...

HG
Scott Reil

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thanks scott
thought id throw in this link,
[url=https://www.gardeningwithmicrobes.com/index.htm]gardening with microbes[/url]
its fairly new site but the info is sound and on topic! a great read IMHO

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rainbowgardener
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Thanks for the article TDB. I've been reading all of this thread and thinking about this a lot and considering whether next year I should start trying to do the teas (never have, just use my compost in and on the soil). Then I got to this paragraph which reminds me why I don't do this:

"When gardening in this manner, it’s important to adjust your application rates or program to fit with the needs of your garden. I’d suggest an initial topdressing of your patch with compost and an application of compost tea, adding soluble seaweed and humic acids to the tea after brewing. Then, another application 2-3 weeks before planting and another one when you plant your starters (adding mycorrhizal fungi into the hole at this time). After that, I’d start a weekly application schedule comprised of both a foliar and soil application for the life of your plant. In the fall, I’d add a mulch to your patch, followed by an application of compost tea (to speed up decomposition over the winter). Since you have such rapid growth requirements for these plants, I’d suggest an organic fertilizer to supplement the rest of your program."

Jeeez!! I don't know about the rest of you, but I work for a living (NOT in my garden, that's just a hobby). If I were trying to make a living from my garden or even dependent on my garden for my main source of food, I would definitely do this. But for me, being tied to a program like this (along with all the time and fuss of the tea brewing) would absolutely take all the fun out of my gardening hobby and turn it in to a huge demanding chore that I wouldn't be able to keep up with on top of my job.

I'm sure that people who do this kind of routine get better results/ yields than I do. But the results I get with my "lazy gardener" style are good enough to satisfy me in my circumstances...

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soil
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you don't need to follow that schedule, apply teas whenever you want. every watering, once a week, once a month, its up to you. schedules always take the fun out of things :)
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

top_dollar_bread
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rainbowgardener wrote:Then I got to this paragraph which reminds me why I don't do this:

"When gardening in this manner, it’s important to adjust your application rates or program to fit with the needs of your garden. I’d suggest an initial topdressing of your patch with compost and an application of compost tea, adding soluble seaweed and humic acids to the tea after brewing. Then, another application 2-3 weeks before planting and another one when you plant your starters (adding mycorrhizal fungi into the hole at this time). After that, I’d start a weekly application schedule comprised of both a foliar and soil application for the life of your plant. In the fall, I’d add a mulch to your patch, followed by an application of compost tea (to speed up decomposition over the winter). Since you have such rapid growth requirements for these plants, I’d suggest an organic fertilizer to supplement the rest of your program."

Jeeez!! I don't know about the rest of you, but I work for a living (NOT in my garden, that's just a hobby). If I were trying to make a living from my garden or even dependent on my garden for my main source of food, I would definitely do this. But for me, being tied to a program like this (along with all the time and fuss of the tea brewing) would absolutely take all the fun out of my gardening hobby and turn it in to a huge demanding chore that I wouldn't be able to keep up with on top of my job.

I'm sure that people who do this kind of routine get better results/ yields than I do. But the results I get with my "lazy gardener" style are good enough to satisfy me in my circumstances...
Thanks for the comment rainbow, I will email tad and see if he can make things a little more simpler. IMO the important part of that paragraph is in the beginning and the paragraph just below..
First para:
“when gardening in this manner, its important to adjust your application rates or program to fit with the needs of your garden.â€

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rainbowgardener
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I'm still mulling and musing on this. The gardening with microbes article linked above, stresses the importance of the quality of the compost you start with for making compost tea. It occurred to me to wonder about mine for this purpose... I don't use manure in my pile, just because I'm a city girl and don't have any easy access to same (unless I were to use humanure, but not quite up for that yet, though where we lived before on five acres we did have a composting toilet). I haven't stressed about it because 1) I kind of like the permaculture idea of no outside inputs and 2) as noted above what I've been doing works well enough...

Anyway, my question is will a totally plant based compost be high enough "quality" to even bother doing the tea with?

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While I'm not the one to answer your question scientifically, remember, your "totally" plant based compos is also full of earthworm castings if it's anything like mine. My pile is also picked over, it seems by wild birds -- in this season, I see a bunch of White-throated Sparrows, Song Sparrows, and Juncos picking over them and they fly off in a blast of panicked flutter when I approach. Not like adding a bucket of manure, but every little addition helps, right? :D

I think another way to boost vegetable-based (I want to say vegetarian... :lol: ) compost pile quality is to grow compost/compostable greens with their nutrient levels in mind. I really think this summer, using the drowned weed tea to water the compost pile helped a lot. Which meant letting a lot of weeds grow to near-mature size as long as they were filling in available areas. Deep-tapping adventitious weeds tend to bring up a lot of soil minerals, too. 8)

I *AM* still considering acquiring bunnies or chickens though. :wink:

Also, I'm not a dedicated tea user. I do it when I have time and the energy, and I want to give my plants a boost or foliar spray preventive/curative. It's fun to experiment, and, the way I see it, even one application adds to the overall health and nutrition that the plants are getting. So why not? All you need is a bucket and an air pump (and a piece of burlap and haystring for cover, if you want to do it my way :wink: ).

top_dollar_bread
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rainbowgardener wrote:Anyway, my question is will a totally plant based compost be high enough "quality" to even bother doing the tea with?
i see nothing wrong with plant based compost, if you think about it most manure is plant based, just it been pooped out and decomposed a little. woks as a compost accelerated and inoculant but doesnt mean the compost is superior then one with out.
if your compost is working good on or in your soil, gots that earthy smell then its good and is loaded with many native microbes who are present in your garden.
ACT will just really help multiply there numbers, so you can help build a more diverse, rich soil biology.
gardening with microbes :D

thebahamiangardener
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ok so I'm gonna do my first brew and i've got some fish i clean it out and got about 4 gallons of organic fertilizer is it ok to do my brew in pure aquirium water. (ps. no additives are in the water )

thebahamiangardener
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kk so i bought the pump the line and airstones and i must say I'm freakin excited.

My brew ingrediants

3 cups mushroom compost
1 cup of organicaly amended garden soil ( manure and cofee graounds and compost its from the bed so not much garden soil )

2 cups black cow manure compost.

4 gallons of fish water

1 1/2 cup leaves

milkwood_nick
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Not sure if this has been covered yet, it's a very long thread.

I have a professional (read very expensive) 200 litre compost tea brewer.

I did a three day workshop on the topic recently and the key feature I have been taught are:

1. We are trying to brew aerobic soil organisms to replenish the soil life and create a functional soil ecosystem for our plants. to do this we need to inoculate our tea with the finest quality compost we can get. For my 200l brewer i use 3litres of compost.

2. We need to give the organism some food. In my case fish emulsion 1 cup, Humic acid - 3 cups, good clean water (not out of the town water supply, i only use rain water) and lots and lots of air.

3. Twice as much air needs to go through the tea PER MINUTE as the total volume of the tea. My pump delivers 500 litres of air per minute into the tea.

4. The organisms in the tea multiply very rapidly, after 24 hours even a air blower like this is incapable of supplying enough oxygen to our colony of soil microbes, therefore we need to stop brewing after 24 hours and spray it out very quickly. (within about 10 hours)

5. Dilute the tea at least 1:1 with clean water and avoid any equipment that with damage the organisms. No pressures over 65 psi or nozzles smaller that 1mm.

enjoy :)[/list]

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Hey Nick,

Your tea recipe sounds good for the most part. I'd like to see some molasses (I think you might call it treacle) in the mix to really boost the bacterial numbers, which will kick your higher level predators (who feed on the bacteria). It's these higher level types that are usually the missing link in a depleted soil; bacteria are almost always present, and any remaining treacle will get used up by them. Fish emulsion is a tricky beast and can overheat the bacterial population, using up available oxygen and crashing the batch (which at 200 litres is a real shame). I feel it's safer to add fish at the time of application rather than to tea, but there are many tea recipes using fish, and it can be done. I just like the increased stability of sugars versus free nitrogen... it will make your tea less likely to go bad near the end of the cycle...

In one of my last conversations with Dr. Ingham, they had been doing assays of tea sprayed at higher pressures and it seems we have been overly cautious with our microbes and fungii; seems they are perfectly safe up to 100 psi. So you can turn up the sprayer a bit, mate... and dilution isn't as necessary as you think, either; decreased amounts of concentrated tea are just as effective (assuming sufficient available soil moisture) as diluted types... so less loads in spraying is a time saving plus.

BG, mushroom compost can be high in salts (VERY damaging to biology) and leaves are a big question mark (What kind? What condition?) I am good with the rest of your recipe...

HG
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I have read many of these posts, certainly not all of them, that would take weeks!
I have livestock, so I get my manure... natural.
In the goat barn, I have several stalls, so I make one available, and when it reaches a certain point, I simply close it off and give the animals a clean stall with fresh hay and we begin again. They think "mama loves us and gives us a clean bed when ours gets too messy". Mama thinks... dual purpose clean bed for them, and fresh compost for me.

Now, I must interject here, in the winter months, I simply let the compost build higher, and add more bedding, the heat from the decaying bedding and manure does help warm the animals as they sleep. But, during warmer months, I rotate fairly often.
I simply leave the urine and manure saturated bedding for awhile to break down. When it is partially composted, I get out my wheel barrel and start filling buckets with it. You can still identify the hay at this point and the seeds are still alive in the hay. It really smells... strong.
I water these buckets and set them aside. I proceed to clean the stall.
I have learned the hard way... too wet is not good. It will breed pests that we don't need. Should that happen I simply dump the bucket into a wheel barrel, and take it to the henhouse... they clean up quickly for mama.
After a few days, I add lots of water, to a bucket, to the top. Let it set overnight, and then I simply pour the water off, and let it drip a bit... trying to keep solids in the bucket. After I do a couple buckets, I can combine the solids in one bucket.
I take my "potent brew and mix in about 1 cup of powdered milk, 1 cup of Diatomaceous earth (for minerals) and about a tablespoon of Bt. I use it pretty much full strength. Yep pretty strong, pretty smelly still.
I spray it directly on the leaves... Oddly I haven't burned one yet.
But, the smelly manure is about 4-6 months old and not still resembling what it was.
Once, my buckets are pretty much just the dry matter from the barn. I mix in some bone meal, cottonseed meal, more Diatomaceous earth, sometimes a bit of sand. And put these in my wheel barrel again.
Now it is time to set some plants.
I use 1 gallon plastic water jugs (like milk jugs) that I remove the bottoms from. I plant my plant, place a homemade cloche over it.
Then I dig a hole beside my cloche, and I take a second milk jug, and put the lid on it... with holes punched into the lid. And I fill that milk jug, one layer of my dry leavings, and one layer of fresher barn yard stuff, until I am near the top of the container. I bury this so that it drips down near the roots. Every time I water, I fill this little 'plant baby bottle'... instant manure tea delivered to the roots.
I didn't include lids on my manure feeders and the tobacco plants sent roots into my jugs... they kept wilting. I couldn't figure out why... If I watered, no wilt. If it rained and I didn't need to water, wilted... finally I realized the problem... rain was not filling my feeders up...
So, make sure you put lids on the jugs and keep the holes small to keep roots out of your compost tea feeders. The seeds in the bedding sprouted, and soon all my feeders were little grass jugs. I couldn't remove them... the plants had roots in them. But the ones with lids on them, were much appreciated by the goats... who were more than happy to eat the grass out of them, and the geese thought I grew it just for them.
So my lazy version of compost... the water goes on leaves, the solids are put into feeders at the plant roots. I had huge tobacco plants, and they had no bug issues. The bt kept the worms down, the milk fed the foliage and roots and the diatomaceous earth added its minerals.
You might need to weaken the foliar spray, if you are raising plants for fruits, and not for the greenery. But, it worked great on tobacco. I can't say for the cabbage and broccoli, they were so aphid chewed that they were not usable. Nothing was effective on their aphids... but they kept the aphids to themselves and not on the rest of the garden. Worked as a catch plant.
I had no molds, no mildews, very healthy plants... only problem... milk rings on leaves... ha ha.
Milk is very effective as a fungicide and it also gives minerals and nitrogen.
[img]https://i728.photobucket.com/albums/ww281/Ozark_Lady/Tobacco/100_1468.jpg

I won't promise that I got the photo linked right... not so good at this in forums...
Here is link to the album and you can see my "plant bottles".
https://s728.photobucket.com/albums/ww281/Ozark_Lady/Tobacco/
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

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OL, it is all very ingenious, but I have to add a caution...

Use of "fresh" manures on food crops is asking for E.coli or other fecal coliform bacterial infection, which can, in extreme cases be deadly. A more typical dosing will simply make you wish you had gotten the lethal strain. We do not recommend the use of non-composted manure at THG. Smelly means anaerobic culture (anaerobes give off hydrogen sulfide or ethanol rather than CO2) and that means possible danger. Just a warning...

HG
Scott Reil

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I wonder if folks build an immunity to e-coli?
I have often used rabbit berries, straight on the garden, For about 25 years roughly. With no ill effect to humans. Now when hubby gets carried away and puts too much, too close to plants, he has over fertilized them to the point of toxicity and killed plants with raw manure.

I know, that said, that folks canned without a pressure canner and got away with that for generations... but it is not the safest route.

I wonder why it is... some folks can mess up on safety and never get sick a day, and others can get sick so readily? If not immunity, what would it be? I am not arguing the point... some folks would get really sick from doing this the way I do. Just like I break out from Cedar trees, but poison ivy or oak don't phase me a bit. Just so odd.

Okay, for safety sake, make sure your compost is past the smelly phase. But, the basic idea of using the compost tea, and then using the solids and a bit of additional compost in individual feeders still stands, and you can simply not add the extra feeders for plants that are not heavy feeders if you interplant your garden.

I also do sheet composting directly on the beds with any manure/bedding mix that is left over at the end of the season, I just spread it on the beds, cover all with used bedding, and lots of leaves, and let it set all winter long. By spring, 98% of the compost materials is gone, and all I have remaining is leaves... they just don't break down in one season... so they go in the compost bin. (Yes I have a compost bin for holding leaves)

Occasionally if I have a troublesome bed. I will cover it with clear plastic and let it bake for a week or two in summer, then turn it and repeat. Once weeds will no longer grow there, I enrich the soil and let it set an additional 2 weeks and start planting. Normally that solves any bed issues except for tree roots and rocks!
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

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I think you are spot on, OL. Freidrich Nietschze once said, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." and that's true.

It's that objective phrase in the front of the quote that worries me... :wink:

HG
Scott Reil

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Oh no! A thought or a question just hit me... look out!
Okay, a proper compost pile, which I don't do, but if you did do it... You have to turn it, you have to break it up and re-arrange it, right?
Okay, you take dry matter, green matter, and manure, and mix them, wet them down a bit, and wait for them to heat up. Then you re-arrange it to let the matter at the outer edges get to the center to heat up also..
See, I know how you do it, technically... ha ha
But, my question is this: Isn't there a smelly stage... like the matter that is at the edge and not heated yet. And when you turn it... I know in theory the center is working the microbes and safe, but not the edges...
Is E-coli an issue when you are doing this? I mean, can it be picked up on the wind and blown onto this and that?
And since you build resistance... if this gardening is new to you... should new gardeners wear a mask, and change their clothing and wash up after doing this... at least until they begin to build some immunity?
There is a reason for my question...
When my kids were small, we got new neighbors, from the city.
Our kids played together daily. They started developing horrible looking sores, almost looked like shingles, so swollen and angry.
Every single day, they took their kids swimming. And they didn't allow their kids to get really dirty. I did, my kids were dirtbags everynight, even if we went swimming, they were filthy. So it was run through the tub or at least a good scrub up daily. It was terrible how sore those children were getting, every single bite was a major sore.
I asked an Rn about it, she said, oh it is the soap, they are swimming for cleanliness, you are soaping. Well, that could be... but, I think some of it was resistance... my kids were used to the germs of farm and woods.
What do you think?
Am I right, when you first start working with gardens, go slow, limit your exposure... to dirt, manure, and bug bites. In time, you will develop more resistance, but an overdose of bacteria, enzymes, germs in general can make you really sick.
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

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Slow down there OL; like it says on the cover of the Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy,
DON'T PANIC.

Compost is an aerobic process. I'm not saying that there aren't SOME E. coli and fecal coliforms there (these are technically facultative anaerobes, which means they can survive oxygen in a suspended state, True anaerobes cannot). But they are dominated by aerobic bacteria and fungii, who are busy breaking things down and making babies. We start to get higher level aerobic predators like protozoa (amoebas, flagellates, cilliates) eating the bacteria and fungii (including our bad guys), and microarthopods and nematodes eating them, and worms eating them, and so on. Everything breathing oxygen and exhaling CO2. S'all good... most every one has immunity to the small levels of E.coli you might run into in these instances... for goodness sakes we all have E.coli in our stomachs already! Nature is always moving towards balance and stability...

Anaerobic digestion (we do not call this composting, as composting denotes aerobic conditions) knocks out huge swaths of the above, no aerobic bacteria, no fungii (all fungii need oxygen and are the first thing to go in lower O2 level conditions), no predators... most of the nutrient is volatized (that ammonia smell is your nitrogen fertility gassing off into the atmosphere; we've killed the bacterias that turn it into nitrogen). Methanes ( a horrible greenhouse gas, twenty times more damaging than CO2) alcohols, hydrogen sulfides; these are the exhalations of anaerobes, so if you smell these things you are going anaerobic, and wasting much of the fertility you could be getting... not to mention culturing the badguys like E. coli that can make you sick...

So if you are doing it right, no worries; if you are doing it anaerobically, you can have issues... best to do it aerobically... :)

Like the Byrds said...

Turn, Turn, Turn... :wink:

You CAN do it passively without turning; check out these [url=https://organic.tfrec.wsu.edu/compost/Compost%20systems/Rynk%2029mid.jpg]passively aerated windrow systems[/url]; the drainage tubes in the bottom of the pile allow the CO2 to seep out (it's heavier than air), which draws fresh air into the pile. Still not as fast as turning, and it looks like they are doing a lot of wood chip in those piles (good porosity), but in a smaller pile, this might work for more dense materials as well....

HG
Scott Reil

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This thread is like the Energizer bunny it keeps going and going.

But that is good, i haven't made any tea lately but can't wait to get back into it this spring.

TDB thanks for the link yet another great one.

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This is an AMAZING thread. I Just read the whole thing in two days :shock: . Funnily enough, while reading this thread I thougt to myself that this should really be a sticky (I was introduced to it through a link in another thread). About three pages later...I found out it was :o . Now I will be able to find it and reference it no problem.

I have learned so much about compost tea, more than I thought there was to know! I have always wanted to try it, now I have to try it!

As is usual with me, in spite of all that I have learned, I still have more questions. So, here goes:

1. I see that there are a variety of choices for aeration: air stones, soaker tubing, even some type of revolving power-head for a fish-tank (by the way, T$B (I think), how's that working out?). I want to know, can you use too much aeration, or do you want all you can get?

What determines how much aeration you get, the pump or the stones? What is the minimum GPM for a pump for brewing in a 5 gal. bucket?

2. As far as the ingredients are concerned, you all have given me a laundry list of them. Many I have never (or just barely) heard of. Are the following ingredients only organic, or are there inorganic versions to watch out for:
Fish emulsion/hydrosalate (I'm sure I misspelled that.)

Kelp meal

Alfalfa meal (Is this powder or pellets?)

EA/EN inoculant (I have no idea what this is or if it is organic.)
Liquid karma (never hear of this, but T$B says it's good stuff)

I know that there are more ingredients than this, these are just the ones I have organic concerns about.

3. You all say about 1 to 2 cups of compost per 5 gal. bucket. However, take a look at [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXGqJbFZzCourl]this guy[/url]. Edit: The link did not turn out right. You will see several videos. Click the 10 minuet one that's titled "how to brew compost tea." I'm sure his video has found its way onto this forum before, but take note of how much compost he uses in a 5 gal. bucket. It looks like 8 coups or more! What do you all think of this (not being antagonistic, just curious :wink:)?

4. I gather that the lid's purpose is to keep out the sunlight. Should the lid be air-tight? I would think that this would defeat the purpose of aeration and possibly prevent it completely.

5. After the tea is done brewing (no more than 36 hr.), how soon do I have to use it? I'm thinking that it should be used immediately to get the most benefit. However, since it is watered-down, I could make is last a while.

6. Is there an optimal tea-to-water ratio? I have hear everything from 1:1 to 1:4 on this thread. Perhaps this depends on how strong your tea is and how much you want to apply. I assume you never want to apply a straight brew. If I use it on seedling, should I dilute it even more?

7. Finally (at least for this post), how often can I apply my tea? Should I do it before or after watering? Should it take the place of a watering (just for that day)?

I'm really sorry for all these questions, especially if some of them are obvious. I'm just totally pumped up reading all of this :bouncey: . As I said earlier, I've know about CT for awhile, but never enough to make any.

Thanks to everyone who takes a stab at some of my questions, and a special thanks to The Helpful Gardener for giving me the link to this thread!

I'm looking forward to hearing all your opinions.

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Hey G5,

Glad to have another enthusiastic convert to teaism! (Maybe not the teaism Okakura Kakuzuo had in mind when he coined the term in The Book Of Tea, but we all bring our own definitions to any word :wink: )

Point by point...

1.Too much air isn't the issue, but bubble size can be; a roiling turmoil will not develop the fungal hyphae as nicely IMO. But you cannot get too much oxygen in the mix; we are trying to cultivate aerobic bacteria to the exclusion of anaerobic bacteria. Oxygen is our friend...

2.Can't speak to the liquid karma, but the rest is golden. EA/EN are ectomorphic and endomorphic mycorhizae supplements and are not likely to multiply in a tea, and they're expensive, so those might just be better added to the hole when you plant... Alfalfa should be powdered before brewing, but pellets are the cheap way to buy it...

3.The guy in the video I THINK you are referring to is selling his products. What does it say on the back of the shampoo bottle? Despite the fact that once is usually enough and better for you hair. As my grandfather always said, "Never ask the barber if you need a haircut." We are innoculating here, not making an infusion as with real tea. Just need our cultures, some food, and plenty of water... here's a video my friend [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1_1Jy5GPno]The Organic Mechanic did with Garden Girl[/url] and [url=https://www.safelawns.org/video.cfm]watch one here[/url] my good friend Paul Tukey, organic lawn expert extrordinaire, did for the Safelawns Foundation. Don't overcomplicate; this is easy stuff to do...

4.Correct. Sunlight kills everything. DO NOT seal it up; oxygen gets used and CO2 will build...

5. I like 24 hours for anyone without a microscope and a good idea what is happening. Use immediately. This ain't fine wine: it gets worse with age...

6.Tea to water depends on how far you want to stretch it; don't need to water it at all if you don't want. Like the compost, tea is simply an innoculant. Stronger innoculant means faster results, but there is a law of diminishing returns that says if you stretch it out more you will eventually get better results over a bigger area, just takes more time...

7. There is no such thing as too much tea (until you start to get to the too-much-water range). Have at it...
Last edited by The Helpful Gardener on Wed Jan 13, 2010 1:26 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Thg, thanks a lot for you answers. You cleared a lot up. I'm especially glad to hear that I can do an application any time I want as long as I don't get the soil water-logged.

Thanks for explaining about the EA/EN. Mycorhizae are the fine roots of plants, are they not? I'm glad you gave me the heads-up on not adding it to the tea, you really saved me some money. Oh, and the 24 hr. rule will hopefully keep me from spoiling some batches; better safe than sorry.

Are you ready for round 2? Here goes.

1. You mentioned that it is the size of the bubbles that I should be concerned about rather than having too many. Could you please elaborate on this? What size bubbles do I want? I believe that you said earlier in this thread that larger bubbles are preferred.

To cut to the chase, what size/capacity air-pump and bubble-creation device do you recommend that I get to make tea in a five gallon bucket?

2. One more additive question (for now): Store-bought manure compost; are there organic varieties, or do most have chemical additives? What about store-bought plain compost? I want to make my own, but at the start of the growing season, I might not much on-hand and will probably have to resort to the store-bought stuff. I want to make sure its safe.

3. I can actually use it straight and it wont hurt my plants!? :D That's good to know. I was afraid that if I did not dilute it enough, I'd be in big trouble (and so would my plants). I can see your point though, about diluting it so its benefits would be spread over a larger area, although at a weaker strength.

4. I want to give some tea to my seedlings this year. Would it be better to go full strength, so they get the most nutrients, or should I dilute it so they do not get overwhelmed. Would the bacteria and microorganisms be too much for young seedlings?

5. Yes, you saw the right video. I agree with you, that man probably wanted you to use up his mixture faster so you will buy some more. I noticed that, except for the compost, moth other ingredients for 5 gal brews are added in 4-5 Tbsp. increments. If I wanted to add many different ingredients(guano, EWC, bone meal, blood meal, etc.), should I decrease the overall amounts of all the ingredients, maybe down to about 1Tbsp each, or should I just add them at the same amounts as all the others.

In other words, should I decrease the amounts of ingredients I add as I add more ingredients, or should just add them at normal amounts. I hope that's not too confusing.

6. Lastly, can you recommend me a few good books on learning about compost tea? If you can't do it on the forum, please PM me. You really know your stuff and I'm sure and reading materials you'd suggest would be excellent.

Thanks a lot for all the help and advice you give me and all the other member of this forum. Oh, and if I start getting too frequent with the questions, just shoot me a PM and let me know; then I'll lay off for a while :wink:.

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Hey G5,

No mycorhizae are NOT roots; they are symbiotic soil fungii that ACT as small roots, increasing the root mass of a plant by several times it's actual size. Some gather gasses, some water, some nutrients. See why I think soil biology is so important?

1. A nice medium bubble has decent lift (for mixing) and still a nice surface area. The real trick is getting the bottom stuff to the surface; most of the gas exchange in any liquid happens there. Too fine a bubble makes for slow mixing... If you are making 5 gallons, anything that moves your water 3-4 times a minute would be great so think 15 to 20 gpm pump. A six inch airstone should do you; make sure to soak it in hydrogen peroxide with a little white vinegar between uses to keep the build-up and biological contaminants down...

2. Store bought compost is fraught with danger; I always say get to know your supplier and his methods and that makes it really hard. I like and trust few bagged products; Coast of Maine, Moo Doo and the other North Country Organics stuff, and of course my friend Marks Organic Mechanic brand. But look for NOFA, OMRI, and Oregon Tilth accreditations on the bag; that's a good sign folks are getting it right. But keep looking for a better source too...

3. Yep. If you have made good tea, it won't hurt anything. I HAVE seen bad tea burn things, though...

4. Look at a seedling. One tap root with maybe a few hairs on it. Seedlings are screaming for biology; mycorhizae are particularly needed, but the low level fertilization biology provides is also perfect for them. Have at it...

5. Whoa nelly. Some of those ingredients are NOT a great idea for tea at all, let alone first timers. Look at Paul's and Mark's videos again. Compost. Nothing but. THAT'S the active stuff here. Bone would do nothing; it's not that soluble. Blood would add a lot of nitrogen that is likely to push the bacterial side so hard you will crash your tea (deplete the O2). Guano much the same, with the added danger of fecal contaminants. Stop thinking like a chemist, thinking you can add more and more and make better. Start thinking like a biologist and take care of the microbes you get from your only necessary ingredient; compost... maybe some mollasses and some kelp, but even those aren't necessary, just helpful. Keep it simple...

6.You only need one, [url=https://www.amazon.com/compost-tea-brewing-manual/dp/B0006S6JVK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1263307850&sr=8-1]The Compost Tea Manual, by Dr. Elaine Ingham[/url]. Woops, turns out the doc has [url=https://www.amazon.com/Compost-Brewing-Recipes-Methods-Research/dp/B002UAQGDI/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1263307850&sr=8-3]a new version[/url] out as well; I must have that...
But I do also like [url=https://www.amazon.com/Teaming-Microbes-Gardeners-Guide-Soil/dp/0881927775/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1263307850&sr=8-2]Teaming With Microbes by Jeff Lowenfel[/url]; a great overview on why adding microbes is important...

Hope this helps...

HG
Last edited by The Helpful Gardener on Wed Jan 13, 2010 1:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Scott Reil

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This is what is was using last year.

1 big cup compost[ed manure],
5 TBSP kelp meal,
5 TBSP fish emulsion,
5 TBSP molasses

It seemed to do alright always had that earthy smell, if your mix ever smells strong (bad) it might have gone anaerobic and might not be good for your garden. Though I didn't really do it enough to get my own recipe ( this is from TDB). Hopefully it's not too much of anything. But don't get too crazy unless you know what you are doing like THG said you can over-complicate it and make it worse or at least be wasting your time and money.

Any comments on my mix Scott?

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Other than my usual concerns with high nitrogen inputs (fish), nope, it's all good. If it's working, it's working... but I'd watch it with fish, especially when it gets warmer... temperature has a LOT to do with how your tea shakes out...

HG
Scott Reil

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Thanks THG, that post was a great help for me.

Thanks for clearing that up about the micorhizae, I knew they had something to do with roots :oops: . I Definitely understand now why soil biology is important. In fact, before I read your posts, all I really though plants needed was the N-P-K. You really tuned me on to bacteria, fungi, protozoa...all of it. Now, I want to learn enough about it so I can keep up with more of your posts (a few of them really loose me :? ).

I want to thank you for your book recommendations. Looking at the "Teaming with Microbes" book with its five star rating and rave reviews, I'm thinking that it will really help me to gain in knowledge on soil biology.

Thanks for setting me straight on how much to give seedlings, now I'm sure that I will have some strong starts this year.

I'm starting to run out of questions, but I still have a few more things that need going over.

I've just started looking at some air-pumps and air stones online and now I'm confused. Should I be looking at fish-tank air-pumps, or pond-type air pumps?

You suggested that I look for a 15 to 20 gallons per minuet pump. The problem is that the pumps I have looked at so far (all fish tank pumps) is that the pumps either list no GPM, or a low GPM, like 1-3 gallons per hour. Most pumps just list the gallon of fish tank they are rated for. So, do you have any suggestions in this area?

Another thing I'm wondering about is what shape the air stone should be. Most I have seen so far are rectangular, but I know that some round ones do exist.

I'm sorry if I sound incapable or if I'm over-complicating the matter. I just want to make sure that I start out with the right equipment that will allow me to brew the best tea.

While we're on the subject of complicating things, what do you think of this [url]https://www.petsolutions.com/Penguin-Powerheads+I47468550+C10313.aspx[/url] . I must confess that this was not my discovery, but was one of the members of this forum's. It sure looks like it would be great in the brewer, but I can't tell if it uses an air pump or if it is built in.

Thanks for your advice on the subject of equipment. This post has gotten long enough, so I think that I will save my other questions for another post.

Thanks for your always enlightening reply.

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Garden5 never stop asking questions never stop learning. You have just scratched the surface, don't feel bad about asking questions. That is why we are all here, we love what we are doing and love helping others. Somone will alwyas have an opinion, answer for you.

Can this thread get too big, I think not! :)

(though it might take a week to read) But still...................

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After the watching the videos posted by THS, I see that a rectangular air stone is fine, but I'm still wondering about the pump.

Can anyone recommend the best one/kind for brewing tea? Would having two of the same air stones be even better than just one? I saw that some pumps have multiple outlets.

Thanks, all, for your advice.

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FWIW -- I have the model 2000 (can't remember the brand). I used to use the model 1000. The numbers denote output in some way -- ah, I think it's cc's/min. 1000 didn't seem to move the water enough, but 2000 with double 10" diameter coils of 1/4" soaker tubing as air "stone" really moves the water -- visually looks equivalent to the video linked above. I posted a photo [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=93926#93926]here[/url] of the model 2000 with the soaker tubing in action.

Hmm... I have the feeling we talked about all this further back in this thread, with some of the really techie folks giving us the details of whys and wherefores....

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G5, I misthunk back there; per hour, not per gallon on the pump. FOr a 5 gallon anyway. Turn your tank, whatever size, three to four times an hour and you are good. Sorry for the confusion :oops:

HG
Scott Reil

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I'm back with some interesting findings. First, thanks to THG for clearing up the gpm/gph confusion.

Online, I still couldn't find any conventional pumps online that listed a gph. What I did find is that some pumps listed the cc per minuet, which I assume is cubic centimeters of air per minuet.

Most of these pumps were rated at 1,000-1,500cc per minuet. So, I did a little math.

1,000cc per minuet = 60,000cc per hour

3,785cc = 1 gal.

60,000cc = 15.85 gal. per hour

This sounds exactly like what THG was describing. The pumps that carried this rating were all rated for a 10 gallon aquarium. I suppose that any pump for a 10 gallon fish tank would carry about the same output. I think that if i buy a pump for a 15 to 20 gal. tank, I should be safe. Also, it wold probably be better to go with a slightly larger pump since the airflow is probably reduced by the air-hose and air-stone. Companies typically list unrealistically/unachievable high ratings on some things.

I'd be glad to hear anyone else's o pinon on the subject. What about having two air stones instead of one? Would an even larger capacity pump be even better or would it become detrimental?

Thanks for you opinions.

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