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ID jit
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Compost Tea – How insane is this idea?

Just getting into this stuff and really trying to figure it all out. My gardening experience is work organics into the soil, keep the plants watered, keep the weeds down, and you get vegtables.

Working on a project now that I have a rather limited number years to get as close to perfect as I can.
(I chose my screen name carefully and have a horrible pragmatic streak in me - I have to rip everything apart and put it all back togeather again before I feel like I understand it and am comfortable with it.)

Just ran into brewing compost teas and the like and am trying to avoid hours of research.

The potentially insane idea:

Run all the coffee grounds, veg & fruit scraps, etc. threw a blender with water down to a thin slurry.

Pour it into a 5 gallon bucket with large aeration stones and an over sized aquarium air pump and bubble the hell out of it.

Is it going to turn into a stench factory if I keep it at 50*-60*F in the basement?

Will I get anything useful out of it in a short period of time or am I just making a mess?

Do I need to do something along the lines of 4 parts “browns” to 1 part “greens”?

Would adding simple sugars / starches and yeast help?

End result I am looking for is something to feed strawberry plants in SIPs (6 plants to 9 gallons of mix).

Any advice would be greatly appreciated, and you need not be gentle with the “2x4 of Enlightenment” if application on the side of my head is necessary.
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applestar
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Re: Compost Tea – How insane is this idea?

If I'm reading this correctly, you are thinking you would skip the composting process and have the ingredients break down in the tea brewing process? I wouldn't say the resulting liquid wouldn't feed your plants/soil, but glaringly missing factor here is you are missing the "inoculant"/starter -- concentrated dose of mixed beneficial microbes.

You are gambling on the ingredients and surrounding air to contain/supply the microbes -- not very much if any and if indoors, limited to indoor microbes which may or may not be beneficial. It's like getting a sourdough starter going with just rye flour and water.... or leaving milk out hoping it will turn into yogurt.

It's much better to add yogurt starter culture -- freeze dried in packets or 2-4 Tbs of good yogurt... or buy freeze dried sourdough starter or have a friend give you a jar of their own living starter. Same for kefir which I'm playing with now.

You proposed adding yeast and simple sugars -- that's limited to the yeast population. You could also add -- and yes I have done this myself -- whey from yogurt, mushroom stems, lactofermented pickle juice, some good dirt from the garden. Or start with a cup of organic fertilizer that contain microbes. You might want to start a small vermicompost bin -- worm bin leachate and vermicast are great sources of good microbes. Bokashi leacheate and finished bokashi can supply the good microbes also.
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ID jit
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Re: Compost Tea – How insane is this idea?

applestar,
You read correctly. Am pretty much thinking of liquefying the compost process and speeding it up.

So, it is only half crazy and not full-on insane. Pretty sure it it get rather aromatic. So it becomes a warm weather outdoor project for next spring. Have no clue what kefir and Bokashi leacheate are and have a steep enough learning curve right now.

Am not willing to start a worm farm, just because I am to strapped for time and space right now. It is on the list for future projects though. I just can't take care of another pet right now. I see my compost piles as low maintenance pets. Did try a lazy worm farm this year. Drilled a bunch of holes in bottom of a 5 gallon bucket, filed it with muchy compost and a bunch of volunteers I recruited out of my compost pile and kept adding coffee grounds and the like and mixed it up carefully regularly. The worms stayed and processed stuff down for me. Have the bucket buried in the compost pile I am still adding to. All the nutrient rich liquid ends up in my active compost pile. The worms are free to leave if they want to, either over the top or out the holes in the bottom. Was all proud of myself and my successful bid of biological manipulation, then I realized all I had done was outsmart a bunch of worms by giving them a better place to live and easier access to better food.

I get the sourdough starter analogy though: Guessing a quart of the stuff out of the worm bucket and a quart of compost should give me a starter of sorts. Might prove to be useful or it will become an aromatic failure. Would really like to find a way to brew up organic liquid fertilizer in say 2 weeks or less. Enough starter, O2, circulation, warmth and a tolerance to smell, charcoal filter in the bucket lid maybe... am crazy enough to try it any how, since there is no initial outlay to set it up.

Pretty sure I still have a 12VDC air pump hanging around from moving large tanks of large fish. Know I have a solar battery charger. Pretty sure I can come up with a stray glass mat battery.
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RadRob
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Re: Compost Tea – How insane is this idea?

I think it will be a smelly, slimy mess and never be close to anything that resembles compost tea. You already have what you need to make it so just keep doing what you're doing with the bucket and worms.

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applestar
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Re: Compost Tea – How insane is this idea?

Several factors here -- you mentioned oversized air pump -- that's good... and multiple airstones -- even better. The air stones should be suspended at different levels. Biggest most powerful should be at the bottom, and you should consider pouring the slurry in an old sock or something because the larger stuff and even the finer particles all sink once they start decomposing and underpowered airpump/airstone will jut get buried in the muck.

I had one set up -- can't remember how atm -- to provide a centrifugal stirring action going. Did I use a small water pump? A nozzle instead of airstone on a second air tube? .... :?:

Once the fermentation gets going, the air bubbles will start to froth and they fizz all over the place, even if they don't overflow the bucket -- so be sure to only fill the bucket half to 2/3 full and have clear, mess-proof space all around the bucket (and something on the floor). With sufficient air pump action going to supply the air, it's OK to put a cover on the bucket, too. I use a high domed lid from a catering tray that fit exactly (with a notch cut along the edge for the air tubing) -- I think DH brought that home with "leftover from lunch meeting" sandwiches or something. :D

This is all good -- giving me a chance to brainstorm for how I want to set up for supplemental feeding this winter's indoor garden. :wink:
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ID jit
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Re: Compost Tea – How insane is this idea?

RadRob, I agree that the potential for one massive, effervescing smelly mess it there, but there is also the potential of something very good perking out of it. I am more than willing to clean up mu own messes to find out.

Applestar. I think you just consolidated this for me. It is simply running an aquarium filter in reverse! Pump the “juice” back threw the sock (enclosed filter) containing the organic slurry using a aquarium water pump. Put in air large stone air diffusers in the bottom hooked up to a big air pump to really aerate it. This would contain the solid particulates and extract all the water soluble good stuff out.

The apparatus would not even be that complicated, it is just a backward aquarium filter – move water threw a filter contained in a box. When I was keeping african cichlids, I set up a dolomite perker almost identical to this.

Thanks for the idea. Definitely waiting for spring for this one – the potential for a mess and stink is too high to try it indoors.
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imafan26
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Re: Compost Tea – How insane is this idea?

The resulting liquid will be more acidic because unless you have an aerator, you will probably get more anaerobic bacteria than aerobic ones. Anaerobic decomposition is going to be very smelly.

Could compost starter be used in the bucket to seed the mix? I have not tried this on anything except a regular compost pile.

Instead of using a lot of water. Why not do bokashi instead. It is anaerobic but it is relatively simple and less smelly since the bucket is sealed and not open to air while it is fermenting. The bokashi bran is inoculated with the bacterial you need and you just add in your diced up kitchen scraps; put more bran on top and seal the bucked for 10 days or so. It still stinks when the lid is opened and it is not finished compost. It is very acidic and is usually added to a regular compost pile to finish.
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Gary350
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Re: Compost Tea – How insane is this idea?

In my 50 years of gardening I have tried it all. Compose is a lot of work for what little you get in the end. You can not expect to make enough compose for a large garden. For 30 years I had a tiny 5'x5' garden spot at the back door. I use to run all the kitchen scraps, vegetables, coffee grounds, egg shells, anything organic in the kitchen blender then pour it on my tiny 5x5 garden spot at the back door. I eventually stopped grinding compose material into liquid I just threw the scraps out the back door into the 5x5 garden. I even put organic material into a 5 gallon bucket and fermented it with yeast after 1 week yeast will totally convert all the solid material to liquid that I poured on my tiny garden spot. 5 gallons of fermented grass clipping or tree leaves turns into 1 quart of compose. Wood ash is excellent for the soil it contains lots of minerals, potash, lime, lye to eat up organic material in the soil. Best way to make your own high nitrogen fertilizer is fill a 5 gallon bucket with shredded tree leaves, mix in about 3 hands full of wood ash, pee in the bucket several times every day for a month, in warm weather urine turns to ammonia then converts to nitrogen. After 20 years my 5x5 garden soil was very black color and everything I planted grew slightly better than what I had planted in my larger 40'x80' garden in the back year. The Big garden was very little work compared to the tiny garden so I stopped composting. I don't do compose anymore. I don't do compose tea, dirt tea works better. If you have plants in pots with potting soil water them with dirt tea they will do 10 times better.

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ID jit
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Re: Compost Tea – How insane is this idea?

Dirt Tea????

Are you talking about perking water through dirt and using that to water the plants?
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Gary350
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Re: Compost Tea – How insane is this idea?

ID jit wrote:Dirt Tea????

Are you talking about perking water through dirt and using that to water the plants?
You mix 4 gallons of water with about 1 gallon of dirt and stir well. Pour the dirty water on your potted plants that grow in potting soil. Do not boil, cook or heat. Room temperature water is all you need.

tomc
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Re: Compost Tea – How insane is this idea?

I tried airated compost tea, and I gave it up. Put the compostable stuff in a bin and put that on your garden the following year.

Too many moving parts that only make this a Rube Goldbergian train wreck.
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Re: Compost Tea – How insane is this idea?

I resisted compost tea for a long time. When I finally tried it, I wondered why it took me so long. It's easy. Take a bucket, put some compost and a little bit of molasses in it and fill with water. Add little (inexpensive) aquarium pump and airstone. Let sit for 48 hrs and there you have it! Wonderful stuff

If you only have a little bit of compost, this makes it go much farther and have much more impact. My plants visibly respond to it within a couple days or so.
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