Vermicompost Tea Bags

Elbourne(8b)April 17, 2013

I am brewing my first batch of vermicompost tea. I harvested worm castings from my bin and funneled them into pantyhose, dropped them in a couple of 5 gallon buckets of water, and turned on the aquarium aerator. I plan to brew for about 48 hours and then water my peppers, zucchini, okra, and bananas with it.

Any suggestions for the contents of the used tea bags? Can I reuse them in my next batch? Should I add something special to make a potting soil mix? Top dress the garden? Just curious what others do and have found successful.

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Raw_Nature(5 OH)

Top dress your garden with the solids... Also, younmentioned that you brew for 48 hours, that could be to long, depending on temperature.. The higher the temperature the quicker th microbs multiply... Some say the microbs multiply every 7 minutes,etc.. Can you imagine leaving it brew for 48 hours! They would exhaust al oxygen and die... Are you feeding your microorganisms in tea, sugars,etc? Once you see "foam/white bubbles" on top of the tea it is ready to use, thats the biofilm, indicating life.. If you wait to long the foam bubbles will disappear, not enough oxygen/food to sustain that much life... Use your tea as you see a thick foamy film on top of the tea..

Joe

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 9:38PM
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Elbourne(8b)

I started it Tuesday afternoon. It is Thursday morning now. I never saw any thick foamy film on top of the tea. But I did not watch it the whole time.

I did not add any sugar. I read several "how to" articles that recommended adding molasses, but others that did not mention it. Since I did not have any, I left it out. I almost just added some Log Cabin pancake syrup, but I did not know if that would work.

I may go pour all this on my banana trees and try again.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 11:30AM
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Raw_Nature(5 OH)

Are you using de-chlorinated water? Chlorine is made to kill the same organisms your trying to brew in compost tea, if you are using chrlorinated water, your wasting your time..

You don't neccesarily need sugar, dont worry about it now, just get the basics down..

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 12:58PM
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gumby_ct(CT it says Z5)

Yes by all means use rain water. Guess you could use tap after a couple days of running the aerator?

I started with a 5 gal bucket then moved up to a 35gal. garbage barrel. I put it up on blocks high enuff to get a 5 gal bucket under it then put a spigot in it.

To me the left over tea bags are nothing magical just add them to one of your beds. The stuff isn't that strong nor was my tea. I used the tea straight up.

I do think you need fresh tea bags for your next batch of tea.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 8:56PM
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worm_composting_help

Hi,

I think 48 hours of brewing time is probably to long. By that time the beneficial microorganisms in your worm tea would have eaten up all the food (molasses) in your mix.

We have been brewing worm tea successfully for years now and work on a brewing time of 20 to 24 hours.

Once we remove the air stone we use the worm tea within 3 to 6 hours.

We add some worm castings to the soil before we plant out seedlings. The more organic matter your soil contains the better it will feed your plants.

We use the worm castings without a bag and filter them afterwards if we want to use them as a foliage spray.
But of course there is nothing wrong with using bags several times if you add fresh worm castings each time you use it.

kind regards

Stephan

Here is a link that might be useful: Worm tea recipe

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 2:19AM
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Elbourne(8b)

Thank you everyone. I am using well water straight out of the ground. According to the smell it has high sulfur and iron content.

If I never got the thick foam on the top, does that mean it didn't "work?"

I went ahead and tossed the worm castings around the tomatoes I planted yesterday.

If I am going to keep trying tea, I am going to have to breed more worms. :)

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 12:29PM
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Raw_Nature(5 OH)

You could make a hot compost and have lots of compost rather than a few bucks from the vermicompost bin.. Your garden soil will even make good tea.. I use a little bit of topsoil from the forest, top notch!! Any soil,etc that has life in it would work..

"If I never got the thick foam on the top, does that mean it didn't "work?"

Not necessarily.. Generally, the more film the more life.. My plants respond best to the tea with the most foam.. Some people just make a leachate, soak compost in water and use that.. Worst comes to worst is would still be beneficial.. But if it really starts to stink really bad, it's not good.. A good tea should smell earthy with a slight sweetness.. Tasting similar to green tea,lemon, and stevia..

I never use a strainer bag to contain my compost, i just throw it in their stir it and the air pump does the rest..

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 12:45PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

why are you brewing tea anyway? Just topdress with worm castings and let the irrigation water make 'tea' in the soil complete with all the microfauna.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 12:48PM
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Raw_Nature(5 OH)

Highly Aerated sugar water provides a habitat for the microorganisms to multiply hundred fold.. Soil does not have the aeration you have with the air pump.. Tea is used to extend your compost.. It is also a quick way to get life back into your soil..

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 1:02PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

if you soil can't support microbial life, applying a bunch of microbes isn't going to help. They will just die. If your soil can support microbial life, you don't have to culture it in vitro. You just need to provide food for them in situ.

But hey if you can show me some peer reviewed studies showing that applying a bunch of bacteria in the form of compost tea improves the soil, I would love to see it. Most compost tea studies are focused on foliar sprayingand the ones that show the possibility of efficacy are the anaerobic ones not the aerobic ones. Compost tea is woo in my book.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 3:21PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

and by provide food for them in situ, I mean topdress with compost. I certainly don't mean apply the lastest internet snakeoil, molasses.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 3:39PM
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Raw_Nature(5 OH)

"if you soil can't support microbial life, applying a bunch of microbes isn't going to help. They will just die. If your soil can support microbial life, you don't have to culture it in vitro. You just need to provide food for them in situ."

You correct you don't have to culture it, you could wait years for nature to take place.. Exactly provide food, make a raised beds, mulch, and apply compost tea..

But hey if you can show me some peer reviewed studies showing that applying a bunch of bacteria in the form of compost tea improves the soil, I would love to see it. Most compost tea studies are focused on foliar sprayingand the ones that show the possibility of efficacy are the anaerobic ones not the aerobic ones. Compost tea is woo in my book."

I'm not going to waste my time convincing you that it works.. Don't use it. I use it, and it dramatically improves soil, as well as break down mulch an other organic matter much quicker then normal.. Compost tea isn't not all about microbs, that's just the foundation, lots of us who brew tea mix in nutrients to grow the microbs(kelp,molasses, fish emulsion,etc).. Even if you weren't getting the benefits from the microbs it would be just as beneficial as any leachate..

You ever use compost tea? You make it next to nothing, and it works wonders.. There's nothing snake oil about it, except people selling it in bottles that is void of most of the benefits... Also, I heard that if you apply to much, you can possibly off balence the microorganisms in the soil.. Don't know how true that is but, I would expect you would have to apply it for monthes if not years for that to happen.. Normally once you provide initial organic matter on your soil, you'll would apply compost tea to doped up decomposition,etc.. After that, you really don have to appl u that frequent.. That's were preference takes place..

Joe

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 8:25PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Dr. Elaine Ingham wrote an article about brewing aerated compost tea for Taunton Press' Kitchen garden magazine that was linkable on line but now seems to be broken. Since Dr. Ingham developed the concept of brewing aerated compost tea I would think she would be the authority about how it is done, but there seems to be many people that think she has no idea what she is talking about.
In this particular article Dr. Ingham talks about brewing for 12 hours, not 24 or 48.

Here is a link that might be useful: Keep It Simple tea brewing

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 6:48AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

no way, someone selling brewing kits telling me how awesome the product of said kit is. astonishing.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 11:33AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

If it's microbes you want, add fertilizer and compost. The resukts of a study indicated that compost contained more microbes than compost tea, and that fertilizer increased the microbe level more than compost tea.

Here is a link that might be useful: Compost tea soil microbes

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 11:46AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

Also take note of Dr. chalker-Scott's comment on the posting.

"For the most part, dilute compost tea treatment was no different than water in changing soil chemistry. Concentrated compost tea changed a few things, but none of them were particularly interesting or connected to one another.

The only "things" that I thought compost tea delivered in this article were a dilution of nutrients (more in compost), a reduction in soil microbes (more in compost) and a pointless use of energy in formulating, aerating, and applying something that nature makes herself quite competently. In fact, this was one of my criticisms in my last review of the manuscript: "IâÂÂm still disappointed that the authors donâÂÂt note that ACT requires more resources to make and apply than water (these drawbacks are never discussed), and that compost itself would be a better source of nutrients than compost tea"

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 11:52AM
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Raw_Nature(5 OH)

If it's microbes you want, add fertilizer and compost. The resukts of a study indicated that compost contained more microbes than compost tea, and that fertilizer increased the microbe level more than compost tea."

You could promote microorganisms In a number of ways, mulching, green manure/covercrop, compost, fertilizer,etc.. But if you think compost tea doesn't provide more organisms than fertilizer, and compost, your wrong... Imagine if you were a bacteria/fungi who loved oxygen and food, if you went in a place with a lot of oxygen and food, what would you do? I don't think you going to die, unless you no more oxygen or food.. I didn't even read the study, I could show you dozens of studies as well, try it for yourself.. The only problem with compost tea is your not getting the full spectrum of microorganisms, and other life(anaerobic,etc)..

I'm not sure if the link kissmr gave you was advertising anything, but I don't think that was his intentions.. Understand that all you need to brew compost tea is a cheap airpump and something to hold water.. There's is no bug scam going on promoting compost tea.. I promote it because I have had great results with it , and it's cheap! Most of us are not out to scam people!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 12:02PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

then by all means please show me those studies.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 6:14PM
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compostgal(9a-CA Sierra Foothills)

The link to Washington State Univ. that was quoted for the "compost tea soil microbes" sounds like it was bought and paid for by the chemical fertilizer industry. I came across that article several years ago after I had spent months studying compost tea and couldn't believe that anyone could write such an inaccurate article. My question is, WHO funded those "studies" disparaging compost tea?

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 5:40PM
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Raw_Nature(5 OH)

Thank you! My point exactly! A lot of studies are bias, and more less marketing schemes.. That's why the best "studies" are empirical, from your own experience!

It don't take rocket science to see the benefits of compost, or compost tea, for that matter..

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 11:56PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

I would have prefered that article Dr. Ingham wrote for Kitchen Garden magazine, but since that is not available at this time this article, by the person that discovered and is the prime promoter of Aerated Compost Tea is second in line.
As Dr. Chalker-Scott states in the linked article "There is no âÂÂsilver bulletâ for plant health problems caused by poor soil health and improper plant selection and management."

Here is a link that might be useful: Myths about Compost tea

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 6:17AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

Like I said, show me the peer reviewed studies. Anecdotes aren't worth anything without rigourous data collection and methodologies.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 1:30PM
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hummersteve

Some people just dont believe thats fine with me I just continue to grow bigger ,better , fuller plants with the vermicompost and worm teas, The proof is in the pudding.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 1:33AM
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Miguelovic(7a-BC)

"If it's microbes you want, add fertilizer and compost. The resukts of a study indicated that compost contained more microbes than compost tea, and that fertilizer increased the microbe level more than compost tea.

Here is a link that might be useful: Compost tea soil microbes"

You used a blog as a peer reviewed reference? Where's the rigourous data collection in that?

Gardenweb is rife with misinformation regarding compost tea, from brewing times, ingredients, to purpose and use. And now, apparently petrochemical fertilizers are promoting soil microbe diversity.....

microbeorganics.com

Tim does sell products through that website, but I don't think anyone buys them hehe and it's more of a resource than anything. I enjoyed reading the site, he participates on many organic forums and instead of throwing the onus on other people to prove him wrong, performs research from independent sources. I think he even owns a microscope, a great tool for rigourous data collection and methodology.

Compost tea is best used to promote rapid soil recovery, to innoculate potting soil or raised beds, and to develope a healthy microbe-sphere, for want of an actual term, on plant surfaces when used as a foliar. It isn't a nutrient regime, it's one tool in a box.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 1:46AM
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mendopete

Wow Elbourne, you opened a can of worms!

I have been brewing worm-poo tea for awile in zone 8. I do not use a bag, but strain some to foliar feed. My plants respond very well to this.

I return the "spent" castings to the worm bed. There is definitely goodness left in the strainings, as the worms get all over it in a frenzy within 24 hours .I also topdress with it sometimes.

I have found that in my cool costal climate, it is difficult to attain foam. With the brewing set-up outside, the air temps drop at night. With cold air blowing through the brew, the magic stops. I have much better luck in May, June and July. Longer days with warmer temps help.

Also, I do not get foam without adding sugars. I use about 1/2 cup molasses and 1/2 gallon of fresh castings to 4 gallons of well water. It really helps to start in the morning with luke-warm water. If the sun is out long enough, I have a big frothy head of foam on the bucket the next day. It looks like a giant root-beer float, with foam spilling over onto the ground.
Foam or no foam I use it, Sometimes diluted, sometimes full strength. It works wonders.

Happy brewin' Pete

    Bookmark   March 16, 2014 at 12:34PM
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compostgal(9a-CA Sierra Foothills)

Elbourne, the high sulphur content of your well water may be something of concern. Sulphur is a broad spectrum antimicrobial. Just a thought.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2014 at 7:02PM
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robertz6

On the subject of the best brew time.

Since there seem to be differing benefits at various times, I draw off some liquid at 12, 24 and 48 hours. These are mixed together. I just use compost tea.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 4:15PM
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