How do you make compost tea for your garden?
Well…it’s very similar to making black tea or green tea. You use compost instead of tea leaves and you steep for 3-4 days instead of 10 minutes. And no boiling water either.
First you need some well developed compost. It needs to be dark, fine and earthy looking. Usually the bottom of the compost bin is where you will find this or you can buy some at a home improvement store like Lowes and Home Depot or a local nursery.
There are 6 easy steps for making compost tea.
- Fill a 5 gallon bucket or smaller 1/3 full with some well developed compost
- Fill the bucket with water. Unchlorinated water is best. You can get this by filling a bucket with water (chlorinated house water) and let it sit for 24 hours. The chlorine will dissipate.
- Let the mixture steep for 3-4 days. You can stir it a few times during this period.
- Filter or strain the mixture through a filter medium like cheesecloth, cotton T-shirt, compost tea bag, burlap, etc. into another bucket. You can return the solids to your compost bin or spread it in your garden.
- Dilute this tea with water (unchlorinated is best) at a ratio of 10:1. That’s 10 parts water to 1 part tea.
- Water the soil around plants and spray the foliage for optimum benefit.
Do you want to see the benefit of compost tea?
Would you just love to have your own greenhouse?
..but how do you build one?
You don’t have to build it yourself. Believe it or not you can buy a greenhouse kit and put it together. They’re not expensive either. How about under $100?
Check this large walk-in greenhouse… It’s from Amazon.com
Simple but very functional. It’s easy to assemble and portable.
Here are the dimensions. It’s roughly 5’x5’x6′. Large enough to grow all kinds of flowers and vegetables. There are lots of shelves too.
Here is one setup inside a larger nursery greenhouse.
Another one setup outside in the yard. It’s large enough to be practical yet small enough to set it up anywhere.
This one was just assembled. They are easy to assemble but may require 2 people. The instructions are not that good but it’s not hard to figure out.
Here is one setup inside.
You can set it up in the front yard. It’s a good idea to fasten the greenhouse to the ground in case you get some strong wind. You don’t want it to blow down the street.
Growing beautiful flowers in the middle of winter. Cool huh?
I had quite a few readers ask, “What is mulch?
Mulch is very similar to compost with the exception the organic material is not decomposed or not as much. Mulch is typically much coarser than compost. Compost looks like soil whereas mulch looks like wood chips. Let’s take a look at some pictures.
You can see that these samples of mulch are pretty coarse and are made up of wood chips from many types of trees. Mulch comes in many different colors. Now let’s look at some compost.
Compost looks just like soil only darker. It’s moist while mulch is not.
Mulch is great for enriching and insulating soil. Mulch shields the soil from harsh temperatures like summer and winter. It acts like a blanket. Mulch also retains soil moisture. The soil underneath will be moist and softer instead of rock-hard and dry. It’s also a great weed barrier. I used cedar mulch on my side yards to eliminate weeds and to control bug populations like crickets. The cedar sap is offensive to most insects. I placed wet newspaper down first and then spread about 3 inches of Cedar mulch over top. The newspaper will decompose along with the Cedar mulch but at a much slower rate. It feels great to walk on…almost like carpeting for the outdoors.
So what is compost? And what do I use it for?
Compost is decomposing organic matter. Or in layman’s terms, dead plants and animals. Just about any plant and animal can be composted and will provide nutrition to other plants. Typical compost is paper, cardboard, overripe fruit, wilted vegetables, wood, leaves, dead grass, tree trimmings, any paper products like paper towels and napkins.
Typically when composting, you mix 1 layer of greens (wet) with 1 layer of brown (dry) material. Newspaper would be a brown or dry material and grass from the lawn mower would be a green or wet material.
Composting is usually done in a compost bin but can be done without one. You can just pile organic materials in a pile in your yard and it will work. A compost bin is a plastic, wood or metal container that holds the organic materials and aids in the decomposing process. Compost bins help retain moisture and heat which are accelerators for decomposition. They also look nice and some are portable like tumbler compost bins.
After several weeks the compost becomes dark and earthy looking. It is now ready to be used as fertilizer and/or mulch in the garden or on the lawn. Compost releases nitrogen which is what plants need in order to grow.
Compost also helps the soil retain moisture which in turn helps the soil stay soft instead of turning rock-hard. Water and air penetrate soft tilled soil much better than compacted dry soil. This helps plants grow fast and healthy.
Compost also promotes healthy microbes, bacteria and insects which are beneficial to gardens and plants in general.
So where can you buy compost bins?
There are lots of places where you can buy a compost bin. Here is a list where you will find compost bins for sale.
- Hardware Stores like Lowes and Home Depot
The easiest way to buy a compost bin is online or you can just make one if you have a large plastic container or wooden box or barrel.
I bought one online a few years ago. It was great because it comes to your front door in a few days and I could pick from a large selection of compost bins. The local stores only carried one or two plus they were more expensive. Most compost bins will cost about $50 – $75 depending on what type you want. There are tumbler compost bins and regular box type compost bins. The tumblers are awesome because it makes it easier to turn the compost.
This is the compost bin I bought about 5 year ago. It’s plastic and pretty light weight. It comes in pieces so you have to assemble it but it’s very easy. It holds a lot of compost too. It does everything you need a compost bin to do except turn the compost. You have to use a hoe or small shovel to turn the compost. Here’s where I bought it…Compost Bins at Amazon.com
Here is the tumbler type compost bin.
This one makes it easy to turn the compost. You just spin it once per week and add materials when ever you want. It’s also portable. You can pick it up and move it easily. You can buy this one at the above link. Free shipping too.