twittel
Full Member
Posts: 38
Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2011 9:24 pm
Location: Central North Carolina

Compost Tea Source

Does anyone have a purchase source for compost tea already made. I would like to try this stuff before I invest in equipment to make my own.

Thanks in advance,
Happy Gardening!

User avatar
farmerlon
Green Thumb
Posts: 671
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 4:42 pm
Location: middle Tennessee

The "investment" can be so minimal (probably less than $20.00), I say just go ahead and make your own Compost Tea.

Here's all you need for basic Aerated Compost Tea:
5 gallon plastic bucket ... Less than $5
basic aquarium Air Pump ... less than $10
basic aquarium air "Stone" ... less than $5
a little plastic tubing to connect the Pump and Stone together ... $1

When I first went looking, I didn't have a clue. I found the pump, stone, and tubing; all in the same section at Wal-mart. I make a batch of compost tea just about every day ... You'll love it!

twittel
Full Member
Posts: 38
Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2011 9:24 pm
Location: Central North Carolina

Thanks farmerlon. I knew the components didn't cost much as I think I saw a similar post (maybe yours) on another thread. I was being lazy and hoped to find a buy source to try it out. By the way, how do you apply the stuff; i.e. mix with water in a hose sprayer?
Happy Gardening!

User avatar
soil
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1855
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 1:40 am
Location: N. California

if you want to make some GOOD ACT ( aerated compost tea ) then skip the bucket and the tiny air pump.

sometimes there are local people who sell ACT, if you do purchase ACT from someone. demand to see microbial counts and proof of life. some people are mean and sell just muddy brown water.

check out the compost tea thread sticky.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

twittel
Full Member
Posts: 38
Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2011 9:24 pm
Location: Central North Carolina

Hey Soil, my "compost thread" search did not reveal any purchasing sources. I searched on line, but nothing. I've asked around locally and so far nobody knows what I'm talking about. Thanks for the "heads up" on checking microbial counts. If I find someone locally, I'll ask.
Happy Gardening!

toxcrusadr
Greener Thumb
Posts: 969
Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2010 8:50 pm
Location: MO

I never did use an aerator, just made it up in a bucket and used it right away. You can't keep it long if you do that, it gets funky very quick. The aerator allows it to breathe aerobically so you can keep it around.
Tox

twittel
Full Member
Posts: 38
Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2011 9:24 pm
Location: Central North Carolina

toxcrusadr, thanks for mentioning the aeration because I found a video on how to make tea, and they did not aerate but lots of other sites said to aerate. Looks like I'm choosing a site that uses:
5 gal bucket
5 gal painters strainer net
quality compost
alfalfa pellets
organic fertilizer w/trace minerals
hydrogen peroxide

Herer's what I've learned:
Put net in bucket and add a couple big handfuls of compost and alfalfa with a quart of organic fertilizer. Add 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide. Tie the net shut and add water. Let bucket of stuff sit outside in full sun for 3 days, but agitate every day. Like steeping a tea bag. When brewed, take the dry materials and spread around landscaping. Put about a pint to 1/2 qt. around each veggie plant. I've got a small enough veggie garden that I can do this by hand. If I had acreage, this method would not work, I suppose.
Happy Gardening!

toxcrusadr
Greener Thumb
Posts: 969
Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2010 8:50 pm
Location: MO

Do you know what the hydrogen peroxide is for? It seems like it would kill a lot of microbes straight away, at least for a minute until it is exhausted.
Tox

User avatar
soil
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1855
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 1:40 am
Location: N. California

that is a bad recipe twittel, not sure where you got that from but those people have no clue how microorganisms work. talk about creating an anaerobic soup. all of the action you would see from that liquid is from the alfafa fermenting not the compost. i know a lot of rose growers who make alfalfa tea like that without all the other stuff.

if you are going to make your own compost tea. please go through this thread, even if you just skim through it. https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=17097

you will have a much better understanding of how and why we use compost tea in our gardens. and when done right you will reap the full benefits.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

User avatar
Kisal
Mod Emeritus
Posts: 7648
Joined: Tue Jun 24, 2008 5:04 am
Location: Oregon

I was given a sample of compost tea from the local Extension Service in my city. They told me it had to be used within 24 hours. With such a short shelf life, compost tea is probably not available on the market.
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

vermontkingdom
Senior Member
Posts: 141
Joined: Sun Nov 08, 2009 1:03 pm
Location: 4a-Vermont

I don't aerate my tea since the rain barrel/burlap sack containing compost is positioned beside the greenhouse and is not close to an electrical outlet. In addition to my finished compost being added to the sack, I add a shovel or two of commercial shrimp/kelp compost and an occasional container of urine. The rain barrel is a 40 gal type. The tea is sprinkled on foliage of cukes, squash, eggplant, etc. It seems to be especially effective in reducing insect problems.
"Good gardeners do not have green thumbs. They have brown knees, soiled hands and big hearts."

User avatar
farmerlon
Green Thumb
Posts: 671
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 4:42 pm
Location: middle Tennessee

soil wrote:if you want to make some GOOD ACT ( aerated compost tea ) then skip the bucket and the tiny air pump.

sometimes there are local people who sell ACT, if you do purchase ACT from someone. demand to see microbial counts and proof of life. some people are mean and sell just muddy brown water.
....
Why would a gardener want to skip the aerated bucket?
I see no benefit to processing ACT on a commercial scale unless you need large quantities (such as for use on your lawn), or you're trying to sell it to others.

It seems to me that as soon as the aeration is removed and the tea is packaged for sale or transport, the quality will begin to decilne.
I just don't see the need to purchase ACT from a (possibly unreliable) source, when you can easily and inexpensively make your own ACT at home.

User avatar
soil
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1855
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 1:40 am
Location: N. California

Why would a gardener want to skip the aerated bucket?
I see no benefit to processing ACT on a commercial scale unless you need large quantities (such as for use on your lawn), or you're trying to sell it to others.
what i meant was that most of the instructions on building a compost tea brewer out there are built without knowledge of what goes on in the dirty soup we call compost tea. putting a tiny 5$ airpump in a 5 gallon bucket will keep a bunch of fish alive, but not billions of oxygen consuming micro organisms, in the end it wont give you all the proper soil food web organisms to get the benefits most people tout with ACT. youll just end up with what somet call muddy brown water.

in no way was i telling anyone to go buy a 5000$ compost tea machine. just to simply know the who, where, why, what and why.

those smaller pumps would be better off in a 1 gallon bucket, with the right amount of compost and feed source and then diluted 1 part ACT to 10-20 parts water before applying, its not a fertilizer.

there is a great sticky here about compost tea with tons and tons of great info in it.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

I haven't gotten in to making compost tea, because for my keep it simple gardening style it feels a bit complicated - having all the right equipment, setting it all up, timing it, cleaning and sterilizing all the equipment.

My intermediate step is what I call a compost infusion. Put a small shovelful of compost in a 2 gallon bucket, fill with warm water, add a couple glugs of molasses (to feed micro-organisms), keep it stirred up for about an hour. I don't stir it continuously but every few minutes.

Something happens in that hour, because my water and compost mixture smelling of nothing much, turns into a rich brown fluid that smells wonderful, rich and sweet and earthy and almost chocolatey (maybe that's just by association with the color). Makes you want to drink it.

Use immediately!
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

User avatar
farmerlon
Green Thumb
Posts: 671
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 4:42 pm
Location: middle Tennessee

rainbowgardener wrote:I haven't gotten in to making compost tea, because for my keep it simple gardening style it feels a bit complicated - having all the right equipment, setting it all up, timing it, cleaning and sterilizing all the equipment.
I believe that's the point I'm trying to make :) ... I don't think it needs to be complicated at all. And I don't think any home gardener should be discouraged from making their own Aerated Compost Tea. My opinion is that the "right equipment" for the home gardener is very simple and basic (as I listed above).
That setup makes a simple, easy, and high-quality compost tea.

I have not found any reason to sterilize the equipment. The only "cleaning" I do is to rub the Air Stone with an old toothbrush when a batch is finished. I'm not even sure that is necessary, but I feel that helps keep the pores of the stone from clogging up.

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Well if you read the big long AACT sticky, which I did, everyone says sterilize the equipment afterwards. That's what I was going by and that's part of what keeps me from wanting to do it.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

toxcrusadr
Greener Thumb
Posts: 969
Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2010 8:50 pm
Location: MO

I don't want to get too far off into an ACT discussion that should probably be in the ACT thread, but I have to wonder why sterilization would be necessary. It's not like we're making human food here, the bugs in the last batch are the same ones in the next batch...who cares?
Tox

Odd Duck
Senior Member
Posts: 114
Joined: Wed Nov 17, 2010 8:34 pm
Location: DFW, TX

I am certainly not an expert on compost tea, but have some expertise on bacteria. There are many bacteria that are what we call facultative anaerobes - meaning they can handle aerated conditions or non-aerated conditions. Some of these are pathogens - meaning bad bacteria that can adversely affect human or animal health. There are also plenty of bacteria that can form spores resistant to nearly any conditions they don't like. Once conditions are more to their liking, they start reproducing again.

While the tea is aerated, the bad bacteria tend to be kept to a minimum. Once aeration stops, the bad bacteria can start to become more active and can out-grow the good bacteria we want.

My point, is that these bad bacteria can hide in the airstone and be released into the brew at the next use. It is very easy to soak the airstone in a little bit of peroxide for 10 minutes or so, wipe the air line in the same peroxide and you're as disinfected as you need to be. Very simple and just a good precaution to help minimize the risk of reproducing pathogens that could make you sick if contaminated tea is sprayed on your veggies.

When making aerated tea, the airstone clogs pretty quickly which reduces the amount of air produced and wears out your pump quicker. Proper cleaning will help it last longer, but they should still be replaced after only a few batches. The stones are cheap enough it's not worth using them after only a few batches. Replacing them frequently also helps to reduce the risk of contaminating your tea.

If you're going to bother with making aerated tea, you should take at least minimum precautions to make sure it's safe to use.
Sharon
USDA zone 7b/8a (depending on the year and microclimate :-)), AHS heat zone 8-9, Eastern Crosstimbers/Grand Prairie ecozones

User avatar
soil
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1855
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 1:40 am
Location: N. California

well said odd duck.

if your going to do it, do it right. otherwise just toss some compost in a bucket of water. stir for a few minutes and apply that, compost and all.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

toxcrusadr
Greener Thumb
Posts: 969
Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2010 8:50 pm
Location: MO

But, if the original 'bad bacteria' that are hiding in the stone (along with some good ones I assume), all came from the last batch of compost...presumably they're also present in the next batch...in numbers far outweighing what could sit on surfaces of the equipment after moderate rinsing...I just don't see the problem. JMHO.

Keeping the stone clean so it doesn't clog up makes a lot of sense.
Tox

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

soil wrote:well said odd duck.

if your going to do it, do it right. otherwise just toss some compost in a bucket of water. stir for a few minutes and apply that, compost and all.
soil posted this in the long AACT sticky:

from the many brewers and batches i have made i find its best to just rinse down with hot water to get all the particle matter and biofilm, then wipe down well with h202 to sterilize and you don't need as much.

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=17097&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=120

My compost infusion is only a little different from what you said about tossing some compost in a bucket of water. I'm happy with that, quick easy, no fuss, no equipment and it at least makes your compost stretch a lot farther and hopefully starts the process of breeding some micro-organisms, which process can continue in the soil.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

User avatar
soil
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1855
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 1:40 am
Location: N. California

My compost infusion is only a little different from what you said about tossing some compost in a bucket of water. I'm happy with that, quick easy, no fuss, no equipment and it at least makes your compost stretch a lot farther and hopefully starts the process of breeding some micro-organisms, which process can continue in the soil.
yea there is nothing wrong with that, it works and when i am too lazy to make up some ACT that's what i do. although a good ACT brewer will make your compost go a lot further( 100's of times further), you will have all the soil food web microbes in great numbers, and your plants will benefit a lot more.

and anyone can easily make a good compost tea brewer themselves for under 50$. no need to spend hundreds or thousands on those commercial monsters. those are for suckers.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

User avatar
farmerlon
Green Thumb
Posts: 671
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 4:42 pm
Location: middle Tennessee

Odd Duck wrote:... When making aerated tea, the airstone clogs pretty quickly which reduces the amount of air produced and wears out your pump quicker. Proper cleaning will help it last longer, but they should still be replaced after only a few batches. The stones are cheap enough it's not worth using them after only a few batches. ...
I am assuming that if the air stone clogs quickly, that means you're putting the compost "uncontained" in the bucket.(?)
I put the compost in a pillowcase, and then suspend that in the bucket of water. I don't have any problems with the air stone getting clogged, and I don't have to strain the compost tea before putting it in my watering can.
:)

toxcrusadr
Greener Thumb
Posts: 969
Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2010 8:50 pm
Location: MO

I'm guessing that people who sterilize their compost bucket tend to be home-brewers of beer and wine. A process that does require meticulous sterilization so as not to ruin the brew. Compost is full of all those microbes and will totally overwhelm anything clinging microscopically to surfaces. To me this is like sterlizing the toilet, not because you're going to eat off it, but just in case it would contaminate the next batch of poo.
Tox

Odd Duck
Senior Member
Posts: 114
Joined: Wed Nov 17, 2010 8:34 pm
Location: DFW, TX

farmerlon wrote:
Odd Duck wrote:... When making aerated tea, the airstone clogs pretty quickly which reduces the amount of air produced and wears out your pump quicker. Proper cleaning will help it last longer, but they should still be replaced after only a few batches. The stones are cheap enough it's not worth using them after only a few batches. ...
I am assuming that if the air stone clogs quickly, that means you're putting the compost "uncontained" in the bucket.(?)
I put the compost in a pillowcase, and then suspend that in the bucket of water. I don't have any problems with the air stone getting clogged, and I don't have to strain the compost tea before putting it in my watering can.
:)
I don't use a bag because that would be something else to have to clean. The air stone (and rock I use to weight it down) are very easy to soak in just a little bit of peroxide in a paper cup that I then put in the worm bin, and I just wipe down my rinsed bucket and airline with peroxide, too.

My airstone gets a buildup of organisms like a chia pet during the brewing process. I have to shake and wipe off this slime to get them suspended into the tea. I then stop the brew for a few minutes to let it settle out some and dip out the tea to use as needed, then pour the dregs (with the chunks) onto a selected plant that I think needs extra help, low spots in the yard, over tree stumps that need to rot, etc.
Sharon
USDA zone 7b/8a (depending on the year and microclimate :-)), AHS heat zone 8-9, Eastern Crosstimbers/Grand Prairie ecozones

Odd Duck
Senior Member
Posts: 114
Joined: Wed Nov 17, 2010 8:34 pm
Location: DFW, TX

toxcrusadr wrote:I'm guessing that people who sterilize their compost bucket tend to be home-brewers of beer and wine. A process that does require meticulous sterilization so as not to ruin the brew. Compost is full of all those microbes and will totally overwhelm anything clinging microscopically to surfaces. To me this is like sterlizing the toilet, not because you're going to eat off it, but just in case it would contaminate the next batch of poo.
I don't meticulously sterilize between every batch, but I do take precautions against building up more and more potential pathogens. If I'm running one batch right after another, I do a thorough rinse between, but disinfect on every other batch or every 4 days if I'm running shorter (24 hour instead of 48 hour) batches. Neither my husband, myself or anyone I'm giving produce to, have immune issues or I would disinfect between each batch. The reason I go up to 4 days is because it takes around 72 hours or more for most anaerobes to reach high enough numbers in culture media to identify.

I completely agree that keeping the tea aerated tends to tip the balance in favor of the generally safer aerobes, but it's just not worth taking chances with your food. I'm using the tea sprayed directly on my veg, not just watering with it. If I was only watering, I would probably worry less, the soil food web should take care of things fairly well. I'm also using vermicompost which should have even less pathogens and more helpful bacteria than regular compost. I have not done tea with regular compost yet because I use quite a bit of horse manure (horses are known for carrying salmonella with no symptoms) in my regular compost. I feel safer spraying with my vermicompost.

A healthy adult is not too likely to have significant issues with minor contamination, but a child, elderly, or anyone with a compromised immune system would be at high risk with even slightly contaminated produce.

Doing a quick infusion (only a couple hours) is also pretty safe as long as the bucket is cleaned and dried out between batches, especially if you can set it out in the sun afterwards (UV light is a great sterilizer but won't get into the crevices of an airstone adequately).

Tox, I certainly am not intending to school you on how to make ACT, but when we're making general recommendations for a larger group that may not have your experience, I think it's safer to err on the side of caution and lay out WHY we hold the opinions we do. I have entirely too much experience with pathogens (virtually hourly at work) and think it's not worth the risk when we don't know the immune status of the people we're advising.
Sharon
USDA zone 7b/8a (depending on the year and microclimate :-)), AHS heat zone 8-9, Eastern Crosstimbers/Grand Prairie ecozones

toxcrusadr
Greener Thumb
Posts: 969
Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2010 8:50 pm
Location: MO

Totally understood...one key point I was not aware of is that you're spraying directly on veggies! That's a horse of a different color. As Emily Latella would say, "Never mind!"
Tox

bangstrom
Senior Member
Posts: 108
Joined: Sun Jun 14, 2009 6:08 am

toxcrusadr wrote:Do you know what the hydrogen peroxide is for? It seems like it would kill a lot of microbes straight away, at least for a minute until it is exhausted.
Hydrogen peroxide H2O2 is an alternative source of oxygen. Many aerobic microbes produce an enzyme that breaks peroxides down into oxygen and water. That's what the bubbles are. Hydrogen peroxide kills most anaerobic bacteria while preserving the aerobes.

Return to “Composting Forum”