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Yeah, back to tea.

Can anyone tell me how compost tea differs from worm casting tea? Should I mix them? Use them different? I know they are not actually the same thing at all.

HG? Someone?
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No, they are the same thing, pretty much, we just ran one through a pile and one through a worm. The concept remains the same; biological innoculation...

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HG, what are your thoughts on the "direct extraction" method described by Toil?

Also, and I know I asked this before but can't find the post, can ACT be too strong, that is, is there a required minimum dilution rate, or can I use it full strength?

I want to give it to my seedlings as they're growing under the lights, but don't want to over-power them.

Thanks.
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It's more compost intense, as noted, but as all we are trying to do is culture, rather than populate the soil, this is a viable method. Be sure of water and compost quality even more than usual, apply immediately, as even a short sit could be disastrous, and you might even kick in a teaspoon of mollasses per gallon just to boost the innoculation process.

But it would work, no doubts... it would take longer than compost tea (we have multiplied the original inhabitants by facters of ten or twenty, even more there) to get effects, but it would work...

HG
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Could you explain exactly what role the molasses play in the tea? How to they affect/benefit the microbes?
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It's simply a bacterial food, but in their increase, they provide protozoal food, and so on and so forth...

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So, you are saying that bacteria multiply more rapidly when they are feeding? How do the levels of bacteria increase, anyway? Do they breed with one another or do they send out other bacteria from themselves?

Thanks.
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Yes, exactly. Bacteria multiply by cellular division; that increases as their energy inputs increase, and glucose is a great kicker...

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The Helpful Gardener wrote:Yes, exactly. Bacteria multiply by cellular division; that increases as their energy inputs increase, and glucose is a great kicker...

HG
Wow, I got it right. Do the fungi, protozoa, and other microbes multiply in the same manner?
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Fungi not so much; we need to get those spores into the soil to grow. But an increase in bacteria means an automatic increase in protozoa; increase any prey population and the predator population booms to match it. Doesn't matter if we are talking lions and wildebeest or soil biology. More little fish mean more big fish...

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Since we discussed how microbes affect the N and P of the soil, let's round it out by reviewing how they affect the potassium. I'm assuming that they are made up of this compound like they are of N and P.
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Nope. Biology is a lousy sink for K. That's mostly in the rocks, but that weak acid response with the N cycle is enough to get us what we need.

It acts as sort of a regulator in plants for many different functions (know how when we say someone is chemically imbalanced? In plants it's likely K :wink: ) In soils it takes on several different roles, making it more likely to be a long term resource than a washed away memory, and it is usually not an issue.

The folks at University of MinneSOta (think I said that right :wink: ) have [url=https://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/cropsystems/DC6794.html]a good page on K[/url].

I have to say the adding of fertilizer seems silly when the most common forms they are taking about there are salts like potassium chloride, AND as they note, that natural plant action moves it from unavailable to slow to ready. Some stone dust seems a better idea to me; put it in as unavailable K and let the plants get it out when they need it. But what do I know?

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Interesting HG. I think i might stop reading books cause you always have good links to read.

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Don't EVER stop reading books on my account. I am a book lover and read several a week...

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The Helpful Gardener wrote:Don't EVER stop reading books on my account. I am a book lover and read several a week...

HG
Just kidding geesh! :D I was actually reading right now sitting by the PC when my email alerted me to some new email.

Now back to where we were!

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Good information, HG. Now, about the inoculation.

When we are brewing the tea, we are multiplying the amount of microbes that are residing in the compost.

When we apply the tea, we are adding the now-multiplied microbes to the soil. What happens next?

After all of the bacteria are in the soil, do the continue to increase in number; or do they feed on each other, releasing nutrients into the soil, but decreasing in number, thus requiring more applications.

I'd guess that probably a little of both (feeding and multiplying) are going on, but do their numbers tend to increase or decrease once they are out of the tea and are in the soil?

Thanks for shedding some light on this subject.

Th
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Once that stuff is out of the end of the sprayer we are no longer in control. We have merely ADDED to existing populations, and hopefully have added to the diversity, or at least the gene pool of the existing soil organisms. If we get this into the ground with some additional food (sugars like molasses, which is valuable in it's own right), habitat (humus; the particles that cloud our tea) and predators (the biggest increases in a properly brewed tea will be protozoa), we have given the soil ecology a booster shot.

Predation starts weak acid forces etching mineral nutrition from CEC for plants. Increased microbial populations naturally migrate to the plant roots whose polysaccharide exudates attract them. The rhizosphere or root zone becomes a teeming jungle where the everyday tooth and claw of natural predation releases nitrogen and phosphorus in exactly the place that plants want and need it; targeted economical delivery of solubilized nutrition means little run-off and water pollution.

What makes anyone think they can do better than that with a chemical?

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Ahhh! ACT is some beautiful stuff. I have been itching to make some for a while. All this talk isn't helping but keep it up. I will sure stay tuned. :D

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I see, so it can go any number of ways. Some bacteria may thrive, others will be killed off. I bet that there are a lot of variables, like climate, soil conditions, and even human involvement, that contribute to the stat of the soil-ecosystem. The colonies probably will behave slightly differently from one application to another, just from the fact that there are probably different types of bacteria in each brewing.

In the end....it's all good 8).

I know where you are coming from, Gix. I want to start brewing this stuff, too, but I don't even have anything to put it on yet. I'm going to change that today :wink:.

What's your opinion, HG, on having the compost loose or bagged in the brewer. I'm thinking that loose is a little better.
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I have not bagged it yet but many do. I do however stretch a shirt over a bucket and then pour the tea into that which strains out MOST of the particles. Not sure which would be better In my OPINION i would think that free would be better than caged. Most people put it in a bag so they can foliar feed without clogging a sprayer but since I strain mine I figure whats the difference except a little more work.

HG check me on this.

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Depends on your delivery system, G5. Loose is great if you are using a watering can with a rose you can clean out easily, but it just won't work for a sprayer with a misting tip. You certainly get more water exposed that way, but there are down sides for any system. Got to figure out what works for you...

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Th add to HG I use my watering can to apply tea. My rose would clog up and fast. It's easy to remove and clean but that was getting to be a hassle. Maybe I was rushing the pouring or something but it still went better for me at least a little bit filtered.

Don't forget to throw the filterings on the compost for an added boost there as well.

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Are there any other ingredients, other that compost and molasses, that anyone recommends putting in the tea? What is there role.
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I know this is a long thread, but please do take the time to go back to the beginning and read through it. Let's not make it longer by repeating information which has previously been provided.

Thank you.

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Cynthia is right, it's all there...

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OOOPS :oops:....Sorry HG and Cynthia.

I thought that this information was elsewhere in this thread, but when I didn't find it, I thought that I was mistaken. I will go back and do a more thorough search.

I mentioned one additive earlier that I though I read on a previous post many pages back in the thread. I was told that this additive (can't remember what it was...bone meal?) was actually detrimental to have in ACT. I figured that I would try to get some "current" information on the subject.

Perhaps I misread something a couple pages ago. I totally see your reasoning for wanting to keep things fresh in the thread and not rehash old discussions.

So, I'll post something that I don't think has been discussed yet. What to do think about adding supplemental nutrition before adding that tea?

Since the bacteria in the tea, aside from "being" the nutrients, also make nutrients in the soil more readily available to plants, why not add some alfalfa meal (N) or some bone meal (P) before you add the tea? This way, you can give the plants a strong shot of a particular nutrient, maybe if they are lacking in one.

Can a plant get "too much" nutrition, or will it only take up no more than is good fro it?

Thanks.
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I am far more worried about the tea getting too much nutrition rather than the plants...

Should your added dosing of nitrogen become available to the bacteria (and I see little to stop that) then they can ramp up to levels that use all available oxygen in the fluid, and CRASH, you just wasted vast ammounts of nitrogen and phophorus as you gas them off to the air... not good. Not to mention you just killed most of the biology, THE REASON FOR THE TEA IN THE FIRST PLACE :!:

G5, you are creeping back to your chemistry set again... hard to put down, is it? :wink: :lol:

Spread your alfalfa on your lawn and spray your tea on it. THAT makes sense. You are trying to turn tea into chemicals again and it still needs to be biology...

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Correct me if I'm wrong garden5, but as I read that last point G5 was talking about adding supplemental nutrition TO THE SOIL prior to adding the compost tea, not adding to the tea. Does that make a difference? It sounds like what you were saying at the end HG re putting the alfalfa on the lawn and then spraying the compost tea. I think both of you were talking about the same thing.

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rainbowgardener wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong garden5, but as I read that last point G5 was talking about adding supplemental nutrition TO THE SOIL prior to adding the compost tea, not adding to the tea. Does that make a difference? It sounds like what you were saying at the end HG re putting the alfalfa on the lawn and then spraying the compost tea. I think both of you were talking about the same thing.
You got it right, RG.

Looking back at my post, it really looks like I was talking about adding the components to my tea, I should have been more clear. I want to add these things to my soil, so that there will be plenty of nutrients for the bacteria to release. Now, I'm sure that if I had well amended soil with plenty of compost, this might not be a real issue, but I don't.

HG, I hear what you are saying about the chemistry kit..it is hard to put it down :lol:. But, really, I do see how extremely beneficial it is to have the microorganisms and not just the nutrients. The microorganisms, make the soil more fertile, hold water better, and even put more organic matter into the soil by helping it to decompose. I really do understand how infinitely better it is to add microbes to the soil than just NPK. However, the microbes themselves are the NPK, so you do end up adding that too.

Now, please don't take this as argumentative when I say this, but when it comes right down to it, isn't it the nutrients that make the plants grow? I mean, hypothetically, if the microbes were not composed of nutrients, and the soil had none (yeah, I know that's impossible :lol:), the plants would not grow.

However, in reality, the microbes are made of nutrients and the soil contains nutrients and by adding theses microbes, we are doing amazing things to the soil...things that no "non-living," nutrient-injecting fertilizer could ever do. The microbes do help in getting nutrients to the plants, but they also help is so many other ways too.

I guess that I'm over-looking all of the really important, non-nutrient benefits of the microbes, and focusing on only the nutrient-oriented ones. I think that I'm getting it now (again :oops:). But, just to satisfy my dumb curiosity, is there a way to maximize the nutrient-oriented benefits of the organisms? Could that way be treating the soil with those nutrients (in organic form, of course), before the application of the tea or would this still be bad?

Thanks a lot for your insights and for listening to my ramblings :oops:.

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Yes G5 there is an optimal way to maximize the biological component of soil.

Leave it alone.

You want to add all this nitrogen, but what will that do to the fungal components? You will certainly be pushing things towards a more bacterial F:B ratio, and that might well create enough imbalance to disturb certain species, cause bacterial locking of nitrogen or even cause bacterial attacks on beneficials (I have watched a nematode being attacked like this under a microscope as food supplies on the slide ran low).

If you are low in nitrogen or humus the alfalfa will help, but now you have focused on a single aspect of nutrition and favored only a single aspect of the biology, We have already established that it is a complex system and not NPKs that plants need, but your human thinking only sees the chemistry. Plants only see biology. Who's wrong? Just add compost; a complete toolbox that allows the plants to choose what it wants... better than jamming nitrogen.

You keep wanting to interfere with the natural process with these plans that you are sure will be beneficial, but you only see the parts you are comfortable with or that make sense to you. This is not a G5 failing, but a human failing. We far too often barge about, thinking we have a better way, without an understanding of the complex systems that we tamper with. And more often than not we get things wrong.

How long were we sure that plowing was a necessity? Turns out not. Turns out it does more damage than good...

How many of us still think we need to eradicate every weed? Turns out not. Turns out many are beneficial to plantings and crops when managed correctly...

How long has everyone been convinced that adding nitrogen to soils makes them more fertile? Seems some of us can STILL not get past that idea :wink: , but it turn out that that too is not the case, that balanced, healthy living soils are just as productive, with minimal input and labor. We need not add anything to a truly healthy soil; it makes what it needs itself.

Tea does nothing but add to the cast of characters, but even that is subject to the whims of the soils and plants. THEY, not you, decide who stays and goes, who lives or dies. You are clinging to an illusion of control that has meaning only for you; not to the plants, not to the soil. Best to simply get your soil healthy and then get out of the way...

And throw away that d**n chemistry set... :lol:

HG
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G5, bacteria can pull N right out of the air. Fungi pull P from rock. Sure it all comes down to nutrients, but you need to remember the special role of the milddleman, and not try to cut him out of the deal. Otherwise, you have trouble matching up the right nutrients at the right moment to the right plants.

There are all kinds of foods that can be applied to stimulate bacterial or fungal life. Overdoing it in your soil is just like overdoing it in your tea. But that's another thread.
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I thought I had this thing down, but it seems like I've lost it. But, when I think about it, I didn't really "loose" it, I just "got" something else; I'll explain.

I finally learned and understood how the bacteria improved the soil, congregated around the plant roots, and how they "were" the phosphorous and nitrogen. I also understood how the microbes made already present nutrients available to the plants and how they literally carried on their own ecosystem (micorenvironment might be a better term) in the soil. I'm positive that there are even more ways than what I am aware of that they help the plants and the soil. I don't think I ever "lost" any of this.

Make no mistake, when I say "understand," I'm merely indicating that I have an, at best, basic concept of some of the things that are going on in the soil thanks to the microbes. I'm undoubtedly sure that I have much more to learn about microbes and their influences on the soil.

I can see now that my error was in thinking, not that the bacteria needed my help, but that I even could help. I was thinking the same way that every maker of toxic chemical fertilizer at some point in time thought. That is, that I could manipulate specific components (resources) of the soil food web and expect that I would do a better job with them than nature itself. Now, this might not sound like an unreasonable idea to some people, until on important fact is faced: in spite of all we know about how plants and nature works, we still do not have a 100% perfect understanding of it. Bearing this in mind, how can we think that we can even match nature, let alone improve upon it? This is the "something else" that I got.

I'm thinking about the "meatloaf and hamburger" story that I think you used when I was having the trouble with the bacteria "being" the nutrients issue. I think I have one for my "nutrient mindset."

Imagine that the bacteria bettering the soil are like builders building a house. Instead of just giving the builders the tools and materials they need and letting them go at; I'm giving them the tools and materials that I think they need, even though I don't know that much about building a house.

I see now, that the only way to "improve" or "help" nature, if you want to use those words, is to simply add more of it. Blossom drop? Add some compost and microbes. All vegetative growth and no fruit? Add some compost and biology. They will all work everything out. I think I'm trading in that confounded chemistry set for a microscope!

What do you think, HG; do I have it?
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Back on track, G5. :D

That's exactly it...

If we knew how to do everyting to make soils and ecosystems work, they wouldn't be turning Biosphere II into a global warming research center. The very concept that science can supplant fuctional ecosystem should have died with that experiment. We tend to undervalue these natural resources, as we think we can replace them ourselves.

That is incorrect. These services supplied by bacteria and fungi are irreplaceable and not still fully understood. Keep poking G5 and you quickly find you are running by the best available science and into unknown lands. We understand little of the soil, few of it's denizens and almost nothing about who works with who. The very soil closest at hand to you now is 90% likely to have an undescribed species in a handful, and new genii cannot be ruled out either. Terra firma IS terra incognito...

I had the privelege and pleasure last Friday of speaking at length with Paul Sachs, the founder of [url=https://www.norganics.com/]North Country Organics[/url]and elder statesman for the organic movement in these United States. He told me the story of this book on humus he would get from Interlibrary loan, a huge thing written in the 1920's that resided out in the Midwest somewhere so he wouldn't get it for a month, and when he did he only had it for a week, losing sleep to read it before it had to go back.

He finally found the book years later when he was established, paying hundreds of dollars for it even back in the 70's; he said it was really the only good book on the topic he knew of. About a decade or so back he found a new book on the topic, also hundreds, and bought it for all the new information he could glean...

He said it was remarkably like reading the same book, there was no new information. We have known about micorrhizal fungi since then, we have know the role of bacteria in nitrogen cycles. Okay we used to think actinomycetes was a fungus, but we now call them actinobacters as we know they are more like bacteria. The leaps forward in soil biology of the last 8 decades have been more the forward progress of a body hitting the floor than anything else... :lol:

Here's the good news. Like my old J-gardening mentor used to tell people when they said they don't believe in Feng Shui, "That's okay, it works anyhow." The biology will get along just fine, ecosystems always heal themselves left alone. It is only us that can get in the way, so until we better learn natures ways, observing and adjusting to existing conditions, the finest thing we can do is leave mostly alone, and make gentle suggestions. THAT'S what tea is...

S
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I can see now that my error was in thinking, not that the bacteria needed my help, but that I even could help.
you can help yourself and others! Humans are capable of making drastic but good changes. Check out tera preta. Maybe you can't micromanage, but you can manage.
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Great! I'm glad to know I'm getting it right :D.

Toil, I get what you are saying. What I meant by my statement was that I can't help the microbes do better than they already are.

Sorry, I gave up clarity for dramatic display in that statement :lol:.
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I never say never. Never is almost always wrong.

There are certain things we can do, and very specific times that those things are appropriate. That said, most people do not have the skills or knowledge to determine what or when those times and places are. Assuming we will mess things up is a fairly safe bet, but one we rarely make money on. Unless you are looking at an SFI bioassay with the skills to determine what it all means, you are just guessing at answers you don't even know the questions to...

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and compost tea is a pretty good guess!
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The beauty of the tea is that you are simply making available a toolbox for G5's builders, a fully stocked van that allows the real architects to do the arches and vaults we have no concept of how to build... and that is okay; we don't need to know. They do... :D

HG
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I have a question for you, Toil, regarding your direct-extraction tea. If I used a modified kitchen mixer to whip it for the five minuets, would this be better that just stirring it, since it incorporates more air, or would it be worse, maybe because it harms the microbes. I'm in the dark on this one, but I'm leaning towards better. What say you?

Thanks.

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I don't think I have any way of answering that question. I would just be guessing. Sorry G5.

I can tell you that the stirring is not for air, it's for stirring and dispersing the microbes. You're going to apply this right away remember? And out there, there's air.
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