Compost tea, also known as Actively Aerated Compost Tea or AACT, is an easy-to-make and inexpensive benefit to any garden whether it be tomatoes or marijuana. Although some people claim that batch-to-batch the consistency can vary, the positive effects of a properly made AACT cannot be denied.
Just as a good herbal tea has been known to reduce stress and keep people healthy, so does AACT for plants. Though I wouldn't suggest you drink the product that I will explain how to make -- your plants will love it and you will see the positive effects.
What are the benefits of a properly made AACT?
There are many:
1. Increased blossoms and yields
2. Increased pest and disease resistance
3. Increased breakdown of toxins in your soil
4. Increased water holding capacity
5. It's 100% safe and all natural
6. Most important to me -- increased quality and taste in whatever it is you are growing
7. If you are growing outdoors, they also increase frost resistance
8. Compost Tea is inexpensive to make, so in "bang for your buck" it's well worth your time
A very effective AACT maker can be built for under $50 and pretty much anyone can do it (See Photo 1)
First is the bright orange five gallon bucket and secure lid. (Note: A five-gallon bucket only makes about four gallons of tea!)
F1 - A dual output aquarium pump for a 60-80 gallon aquarium. The more air the better the tea and the less chance of it going anaerobic or having anaerobic pockets.
F2 - Medium air stones
F3 - Small air stones
F4 - Two brass (not plastic) T-fittings
F5 - About 10' aquarium hose
F6 - Drill motor and 1/4-in drill bit
F7 - A pressurized paint sprayer strainer, available at any paint store (or if need be, an old nylon)
Drill two 1/4-inch holes in the side of the bucket near the top, just below where the lid would seal. (See Photo 2) Next you will need a sharp pair of scissors to cut your hose into six pieces -- two approximately three feet and four approximately six inches.
Attach one air stone to the end of all four smaller pieces of hose. Attach the two hoses connected to the small air stones to one brass T and the larger air stones to the other brass T. Pull your two larger sections of hose through the 1/4-inch holes you have drilled in the side of your bucket. Connect the end of the longer hoses outside the bucket to the two outputs on the aquarium pump.
Connect the brass T with the larger air stones to one of the hoses inside the bucket (See Photo 3).
Next the T with the small air stones will be placed inside the paint sprayer strainer and the bag should be filled with 1 to 1.5 pounds of Detroit Nutrient Company Worm Castings. (This is the compost tea bag.) Then the T should be connected to the remaining hose inside the bucket, and the top of the bag should be tied shut (See Photo 4).
At this point you are done with the construction of the AACT maker or 'Kettle' as I call it.
Now comes the ingredients:
First, dechlorinated water or better yet, 5-gallons of water from a rain barrel or a pond. If you don't have access to either of those, just leave a five-gallon bucket of water out for 24 hours to dechlorinate.
Add water to your bucket with your large air stones at the bottom of the bucket and your bag of aerated vermicompost inside with your aquarium pump plugged in. A basic recipe for a good compost tea would be to add about one teaspoon to two ounces of unsulfured, blackstrap molasses, 1/2 cup humic acid and one to three tablespoons of sea kelp.
After 8-12 hours, remove the worm casting tea bag and put just the connected air stones back into the kettle. You want your tea to brew between 24-72 hours in a nice cool dark place. More important than the exact temperature is making sure the temperature is evenly maintained and most important is to keep the pump running and air flowing.
My suggestion is to start with a little less than a recipe calls for unless you are an expert. Watch to see how your plants respond and adjust as necessary. I normally mix a gallon of tea to four gallons of dechlorinated, aerated water or dilute the tea to a light brown color.
Once you have made your tea and let it brew for 24-72 hours, you want to use it quickly. Tea has a short shelf life -- especially once you remove the air stones.
Use Your Nose
Caregivers are especially conscious of smell. Once your tea loses its sweet and earthy smell, it will get a stale 'vomit' smell. Your tea is bad at that point. Throw it away -- not on your garden. I dump it on the ground behind my house.
Now you have made a compost tea kettle and your first batch of tea. For more recipes check our website www.detroitnutrientcompany.com or Detroit Nutrient Company on Facebook. Feel free to share your recipe ideas with me.
Good Luck and Keep Michigan Growing!