Make Compost Tea For Your Garden Soil (Excerpt)

Give your soil a boost with some homemade compost tea. In this book excerpt, author Chris McLaughlin tells you how to "brew" your own.

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by Chris McLaughlin
PHOTO: Chris McLaughlin

Adding decomposed organic matter to your soil with compost is certainly the best way to go. However, you can help spread the wealth by making compost, manure and herbal/plant teas. These liquid teas and fermented plant extracts utilized by biodynamic farmers and gardeners can deliver (depending on the tea recipe) beneficial micro-organisms and nutrients to your garden when you don’t have shovelfuls of compost available. 

There are recipes for disease suppression, biological support and general plant nutrition. The following is an all-around biodynamic compost-plant tea recipe. 

Materials Needed

  • 1 large, netted bag (or 3 smaller netted bags)
  • finished compost (2 pounds)
  • nettles (big handfuls)
  • comfrey (big handfuls)
  • 5-gallon bucket filled half to two-thirds of the way up with spring water (untreated)
  • heavy fabric or burlap as a bucket cover
  • dowel or branch, longer than the circumference of the bucket (optional)
  • aquarium air pump and tubing (optional)

Read more: Compost like a pro with this simple technique.


Preparation

Place the compost into the large, netted bag (or one smaller bag). Add the nettles and comfrey to the bag or separately in their own if you’re using a smaller-sized bag. Place the bag (or all bags) into the water bucket. If you have a dowl or stick, you can attach the bag(s) to it for easy removal. Cover the bucket with the fabric or burlap.

If you’re using an aquarium air pump, connect the tubing to the pump and let it aerate the bucket of tea for 24 hours. If you’re not using a pump, lift the cover and stir the tea three times a day for a week. Dilute tea with water (10 parts water to 1 part tea) and use in the garden immediately. 

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Excerpt from The Good Garden: How to Nurture Pollinators, Soil, Native Wildlife, and Healthy Food—All in Your Own Backyard by Chris McLaughlin, published by Island Press (February 2023). You can order the full book here.

 

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