Every two to three weeks, we feed many of my plants a refreshing drink of tea.
Feeding plants compost tea is a wonderful way to provide wholesome and organic nourishment. Using compost made right here on my farm, my gardeners, Ryan and Wilmer, mix up a batch and feed the plants in the greenhouses. Compost tea is a well-balanced, organic supplement made by steeping aged compost in water. It improves soil structure, reduces water stress, and is an ideal alternative to toxic chemical pesticides and fertilizers. I've been using compost tea for years. I have two brewing systems from Growing Solutions, Inc. in Eugene, Oregon, and they both work very well - just combine a few items to create the appropriate "brewing" atmosphere and leave the cycle to run overnight - so easy, and so good for a wide variety of crops, including fruit trees, vegetables, turf, landscapes, and indoor plants.
Here are some photos - enjoy.
This is called the System10 by Growing Solutions. It’s a 10-gallon compost tea model that’s great for home gardens. It needs a sheltered location with a level surface and access to power and water, so we keep it in a small greenhouse next to the head house where I store various orchids and topiaries. http://www.growingsolutions.com
At the bottom of the tank is the fine bubble diffusion aeration disc. This releases bubbles from the base up and ensures enough air is surrounding the filtration area.
The first step is to fill the brewing tank with potable water up to the fill line.
Once the unit is filled, it can be turned on. The bubble action helps to release damaging chlorine from the water and incorporates beneficial oxygen. Ryan lets the tank bubble on its own for about 30-minutes to allow the chlorine to escape the water.
Here is the fine bubble diffusion aeration disc bubbling from the bottom.
This is the compost tea catalyst, which stimulates important microbial growth in the tea. Ryan adds a couple spoonfuls to the activating water.
The custom engineered compost filter basket tray sits on top of the tank and holds the filter for the compost.
Ryan fills half the filter basket with what I call “black gold” from my garden – nutrient rich compost that we make right here at the farm. This size brewing system takes about seven-cups of compost for one batch of tea.
Ryan places the filter into the tray, and submerges it into the water, where it will bubble and brew for 24-hours.
Here is what the compost looks like from above – very similar to making tea.
Ryan puts the lid back on the system and lets it complete the compost tea making cycle.
After a full-24-hours, Ryan checks the compost tea system.
It has completed the tea making process. Here is the basket filter – nearly empty after the brewing cycle.
Ryan adds booster supplements to the tea mixture – 2-4-1 fish fertilizer and 0-0-1 seaweed plant food.
He pours a little of each into a small pint-sized plastic container.
He also adds a little SUPERthrive, a plant vitamin solution with kelp.
Ryan pours the entire mixture into the brewing tank, and lets it bubble for about 15-minutes.
At the bottom of the system is an industrial grade valve. Once the supplements have been completely mixed into the tea, it’s ready for dispensing into any watering can or sprayer. That’s it – so easy to prepare.
Wilmer gives the roots a good drink of tea – or “liquid gold”. It nourishes and helps alleviate diseases of the soil. I’ve been giving my plants compost tea for years – it’s great.
Here’s Wilmer watering some of the beautiful orchids.
Compost tea is great for orchids – it increases plant growth, and provides them with so many nutrients. I just love these beautiful blooms.
Orchids don’t like wet roots. They need ample water, but should be allowed to dry out between waterings.
In my large vegetable greenhouse, we have a System25, a 25-gallon brewing unit also from Growing Solutions. Storing this here makes it easy to make bigger compost tea batches for use on all my citrus plants.
This system uses the same easy process, and because every model includes removable components, they’re all easy to clean – after every use, just hose the parts down.
Ryan puts in the appropriate amount of catalyst powder.
Here is the bigger tank beginning to bubble.
After adding the catalyst powder, Ryan fills the tea basket half way with compost.
And places the basket into the tray as well as the lid and lets it sit for 24-hours.
The next day, Ryan adds the same booster mix of fish fertilizer, seaweed plant food and SUPERthrive vitamin solution.
And, after a few minutes, it is ready to dispense into watering cans.
Here’s Wilmer feeding the citrus with a batch of “liquid gold”.
Compost tea can be applied to the roots or sprayed on the leaves.
We feed compost tea once every couple of weeks.
Every citrus plant gets a good drink of tea. My collection has grown quite a bit over the years. In addition to proper feeding, dwarf citrus trees require at least eight to 12 hours of full sunshine and good air circulation to thrive.
It makes me so happy to be able to fortify my citrus plants with good, rich food. In return, they provide me with a bounty of delicious fruits every season.