compost tea dilution?

nohandle(6a swON)May 12, 2008

Hi all you crazy composters (you know who you are), I have a compost tea question.

I have just made my very first batch of old fashioned compost tea (compost + water + time) and I'm not sure exactly what to do next.

I understand where it goes and some of the "why" it goes, but not so much of the "how".

Presently it has been steeping for about a week and is a nice dark, coffee colour that elicits a satisfying "ewww" and quizzical look from the wife, but some time this week I would like to put it on the gardens.

I would like to know if it should be diluted or is it best used full strength?

Is it best applied before a rain, after a rain or during periods of no rain?

Any application info would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

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joepyeweed(5b IL)

I'd dilute it...and I would use it after a rain or during periods of no rain. Mainly because I would think right before a rain, it could get washed away before it had a chance to fully absorb.

I have used a hose end sprayer to spread tea. I've also just diluted and watered it in with a sprinkling can.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 3:10PM
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I bottled my compost tea twice; four days ago and yesterday. I filtered it thru a nylon stocking twice to get all the material out of it.

I look for a weak tea (real tea) appearance. The first of my brew I did not dilute. When I got to the bottom, it had a dark appearance, and was diluted 1 part tea with 2 or 3 parts water.

Note: I do not use tap water when rain water is available. If tap water is used, it sits outdoors for three days uncovered to remove the residual chlorine.


    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 3:53PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

For root drench I dilute it in 1/2 - to the color of normal iced tea or just a bit darker. For foliar feeding and spray I cut it again so that it is the color of very weak iced tea.


    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 6:46PM
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nohandle(6a swON)

Thanks for the replies, much appreciated.

However, when I finally got around to using the tea, it went smelly on me. By that I mean it smells a bit like a stagnant pond, which I'm assuming indicates anaerobic conditions.
From what I've read elsewhere it is a bad idea to use this tea on my plants. But this advice was from an oxygenated tea recipe that used molasses etc.
I'm assuming that the advice is still sound, but I would like to get some more feedback on this from those of you who've had similar experiences.
Thanks again.


    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 10:20AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Let it go to long, huh? ;) You can 'fix' it by hard pouring it back and forth between buckets a couple of times - it just needs air. Diluted smelly tea is fine for a root drench - never had any problems with it - but I don't spray it on the leaves. JMO


    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 10:50AM
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I bought a cheap air pump at the pet store (around five bucks) and use it to add a bit of oxygen to the mix. keeps the little critters alive for a few days until I'm ready to distribute them. I don't brew my own tea... I get it from a local tea maker. I usually cut my tea to about 75% water (with humic acid added to it to get rid of the chloramine we have in the water here... a bit different from chlorine which off gases) and 25% compost tea when I'm adding it to my lawn and as a root drench. If I'm spraying I use about half and half water to tea ratio... I use full strength when I spray if I have enough tea left over. I use an old tea shirt as a filter when I'm filling the spayer to keep it from clogging.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 11:20PM
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Has anyone added compost tea to a rain barrel? Not a lot of aeration so I would think you'd be asking for anaerobes.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 6:51AM
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The one person that has done considerable research into compost teas, Dr. Elaine Ingham, has said that these teas need to be aerated because if not, it allowed to brew in anaerobic (absence of air) conditions disease pathogens (which prefer to grow in the absence of air) can develop.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 7:05AM
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I see this is an old thread altho there are probably a lot of new posters who have not seen it.

Blucolt, I would not add compost to a rain barrel unless you have an air pump going in it or plan to use the entire barrel within a few days.

I don't make compost tea but do make alfalfa tea which I believe is a similar situation with becoming anaerobic. Many people think alfalfa tea *should* smell bad but I disagree. It's OK IMO for it to ferment and smell yeasty, but when it starts to stink I just blast water in with the hose which introduces oxygen and the obnoxious smell disappears (for awhile). My method is to put one large coffee can of alfalfa pellets in a 5 gallon bucket and fill with water. I let it settle and sometimes use immediately if I need to and always refill with water. Almost every day I water a few plants with tea using one large coffee can of liquid from the 5 gallon bucket in my (3 gallon?) watering can and filling with water. The color should be, in the case of alfalfa tea, a pale green. With compost tea I would think it should be a pale brown. I then blast more water into the 5 gallon bucket introducing more oxygen. This one bucket lasts at least a week and I then spread the remaining residue on top of the soil around plants.

I believe it is harmful to use anaerobic teas in concentrated form as I almost killed one of my lilacs a few years ago when I dumped an entire bucket of anaerobic alfalfa tea on it. It has recovered but it was touch and go for awhile.

I apply alfalfa tea to every new plant, every time I move a plant, to any plant that looks 'poorly', when my plants need watering during drought, and to roses and other heavy feeders at least once a week. It's my main fertilizer as it encourages root health and earthworm activity. I only occasionally use it to foliar feed because I don't want to do this in bright sunlight so it's not always convenient.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 9:53AM
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Im a bit confused after making the compost tea should it be diluted or not , I will be using vermicompost. Also it seems if you do dilute it that you cant just dilute with tap water that has chlorine as that would kill any microbes that you have worked so hard to create.

Also if you dilute the mix would that also dilute or make ineffective the worm tea you have created.. Some have said if it is weak looking dont dilute but if a rich dark appearance do dilute,,, what say you.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 1:12PM
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Some say to dilute it if it will be used as a foliar feed/spray. I occasionally dilute it just to extend the quantity, other than that dilution is of zero concern for me.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 2:26PM
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You have a valid point about tap water Hummer.
It would be very benificial if 100% of water used for any garden related use was rain water. Ever effort should be made to catch enough rain for tea,worm bin moisture and compaot pile moisture,in that order of priority. In two water districts near me,thier public water supply used for irigation will kill many plants. Diluted tea used often is better than concentrated tea used seldom. Besides,a plant can only utilize a certain amount of the desirable content before it is lost to air and solar , so more isn't nessarly better.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 8:09PM
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