Compost Tea

Compost Tea

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cohiba – posted 18 March 2004 16:41

I read a few years ago about a company that was experimenting with a compost tea. I would like to test something like that out through my irrigation system. Does anyone have any thoughts and/or experiences with this?

Dchall_San_Antonio – posted 19 March 2004 08:48

For those of you who think I’m an organic industry shill, my experience and answer may surprise you.

I assembled a compost tea brewer several years ago to test it out. I used all the best ingredients according to the best recipe and methods of the time. My tea looked and smelled great. Results: nothing to speak of. I tried it several times and really didn’t get much out of it. I took a batch to a wild field near our community swimming pool and dumped a gallon on a spot and watched it all year. That spot did seem to grow a little greener (bermuda) and thicker for that entire season.

So my experience is that for my lawn and garden, the tea didn’t seem to help or hurt. For areas that get basically no care or attention at all, you might see an improvement.

If you want to learn more than you ever wanted to know about compost tea, visit


If you want to learn how to make a simple brewer and get a starting recipe, go to


There are three pages to that article so be sure you click through the whole thing.

I also recently met a woman who owns one of the premier grass pastures in Texas (according to people who give out awards for that stuff). She has spent a LOT of money and time developing better techniques and recipes and ingredients for her compost tea. She sprays 20 gallons per acre before the spring lush and 5 gallons per acre at three more points during the growing season. She has 500 acres to spray. The results she reports are pretty impressive. She tests her soil, grass, and her cattle for improvement and adjusts her compost tea accordingly. She reports an improvement in the types of proteins and fats in her cattle from using the tea. She has also eliminated flies (and chemical insecticides) on her cattle by spraying the cattle with her tea.

The reason tea would work is that it is a factory for multiplying the numbers of beneficial bacteria and fungi which occur naturally in the compost. The typical multiplication factor is 1,000. So if you started out with one gallon of compost in the tea, the end resulting tea should have 1,000 times as many microbes in it after the brewing is finished (12 to 24 hours). Does that make compost tea 1,000 times better than compost. Well, yes it does. If you were planning to spread 43 cubic yards of compost per acre on a project, you could use one gallon of compost to make five gallons of tea and spread the tea onto the same acre and achieve the same result. So compost tea costs about 1,000 times less than the compost it would require to cover a certain area. This is all assuming you would have gotten any benefit from using compost in the first place.

And I cannot let a message go by without mentioning corn meal, can I (I hear you groaning (c; ). You can also make corn tea by soaking a handful of corn meal in a gallon of water overnight. The resulting “tea” seems to have an antifungal effect when sprayed on roses, hostas, etc. I have not used corn tea but I read about it and hear about it from others who have.

cohiba – posted 19 March 2004 14:43

Wow. Thanks for the info and the links. Soil food web was loaded with ideas. I cannot wait to get started. I have a 350 gallon mix tank on my fertigation system that I will try to brew the tea in. Then, when its ready I will inject it into my irrigation cycle. I have to find out what the best materials would be. I have heard that brewers waste is a good foundation. I still want to see what cornmeal will do. I think I’ll try it on my home lawn first. I’m intrested in organic but not ready to give up on modern chemistry.

micro – posted 18 August 2004 15:41

compost tea is oftern used as a fertilzer and this is not what it is for.compost tea is used to replace the microbes in the soil (that have been depleted with over use of chemicals) so that you can get better use of your fertilizer and hold them in the root zone longer.If you keep using it you will set up a very nutrient circling system and be able to use less ferts and have a much healthier turf.

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