There is a long going debate about whether or not compost tea is a good idea or a waste of time. I believe compost tea for container gardens (and hydroponics too) is a great idea …. and this is why.
What is compost tea?
Compost tea is truly just what it sounds like. The tea is the water full of all the nutrients and bacteria that come from “brewing” compost. This water should have all the micronutrients, bacteria, and fungi that can be found in the original compost.
My favorite thing is that it can easily be 100% organic. You can ensure that it is free of any chemicals and other things you want to keep from your garden.
Remember that your tea is a true reflection of the compost you use. So use good natural food waste, worm compost, and other good things to make the best tea.
So if it is the same benefits of the compost then why make tea?
The theory is that the nutrients will be more readily available for the plant roots to absorb in the liquid form.
There is also thought that spraying the compost tea directly onto the plant’s leaves. This is said to allow good absorption. Some even claim that this spraying of the leaves can reduce disease in your plants. The truth is that there is no scientific proof that any of this is true!
One of the problems with proving the real benefit of compost tea is that each tea solution, even when from the same compost, will be different. So there is no way to universally test over many trials.
What can be better for outdoor gardens than compost tea?
If you are a more traditional outdoor gardener it can be better and more effective to simply top dress your garden beds with seasoned compost. Then watering and rain will naturally wash the nutrients into the soil giving the roots the same type of access as tea would.
Tea for container and indoor gardens
The best use of compost tea is for use in containers or indoor gardens.
Container gardens don’t have the same potentially abundant space that outdoor gardens have. It can be difficult to top-dress plants that are in containers because of the limited soil surface space.
If you have the space in your containers then top dressing is likely a better way to go. For those of us without space then compost tea is the way to go!
Compost tea con is the easiest, cheapest, and most effective way to naturally fertilize your containers.
How to make compost tea:
There is no exact recipe for tea. You can use whatever you have available as the compost. Just keep in mind that whatever you use will be directly reflexed in your tea.
I like to use good organic worm compost and my own homemade compost from my seasoned kitchen compost bin.
What you need
- a 5-gallon bucket
- good quality compost
- a net type bag, I use a 5-gallon paint strainer bag
- a fish tank air pump
- cane sugar, molasses, or maple syrup
- fresh non-chorine water
Add as much water to the bucket as you need to give your plants one good watering. I have found that compost tea does not store well so make only what you will use right away.
Place the fish air pump on the bottom of the bucket and have it running. If you are using city water that may have chlorine in it you can run the pump in the bucket of water for about a day to eliminate the chlorine.
Put about one cup of compost into the net bag for every gallon of water you are using
Drop the closed bag into the water. Then add about a tablespoon of your sugar choice into the water.
Let the tea brew for 24 to 36 hours. You will see brown bubbles on the surface. They should smell sweet and earthy.
Then pull out the bag of compost. Save the used compost for your outdoor compost pile or garden.
The water that remains is your compost tea.
Water your plants with it right away. After a day or two, the unused water will start to smell bad. Do not use this water for your plants when they smell bad.
The bonus of making compost tea for your container garden is that if you grow using hydroponic the same tea is a great hydroponic fertilizer.
I hope you have found compost tea for container gardens helpful. As always please like, subscribe, and comment. I really appreciate your support!
And for more about great container soil make sure you check out “What is well-drained potting soil?”