With the number of microorganisms and nutrients compost consists of, it is considered to be an awesome meal for plants. But for plants to better digest this meal, you can also steep compost in the aerated water to create a compost tea solution.
Compost tea is a perfect method to naturally enhance the growth of your plants and thus, reaping greater yields. But, you need to use it appropriately; otherwise, it will become counter-productive. In this article, I will show you how often to use compost tea for the sake of your plants.
Benefits of compost tea
The most obvious benefit of compost tea is that it brings you more convenience. You will agree with me that adding compost directly to the garden soil, especially a lawn, is sometimes quite troublesome. But, with compost tea, things get much easier because you can easily apply this nutritious liquid using many horticultural applications.
More importantly, when you introduce brewed compost tea to your plants, this helps them grow stronger and larger. Beneficial bacteria are placed on the plants while harmful ones are distanced, thus helping to fight any disease that can potentially pose threats to the plant.
Besides, the application of tea to the soil means enlarging the food web inside the soil. With more healthy microorganisms, the soil can receive added nutrients and better ventilation. Therefore, it can absorb more nutrients and retain more water. This is undeniably a benefit for the plants when the roots get healthier and better endure harmful diseases.
Making compost tea
You can make compost tea on your own. To create this organic fertilizer, you just have to mix an adequate amount of compost and/or animal manure in a bucket. Then, fill the bucket with water. After that, let the mixture sit for 5-6 days, but don’t forget to stir it regularly.
When compost tea is ready, use the tea on top to feed your plants. You can use a burlap or cheesecloth to take the liquid out of the compost. The qualified tea should have no bubbles nor strange odors. You don’t have to dilute more, just use the tea right away.
Note: When brewing compost tea, make sure you use mature, earthly smelling and sweet compost. If the compost carries an unpleasant smell, maybe it has become anaerobic and very few beneficial microorganisms can survive in this condition. To achieve the best compost tea, I suggest sustaining bucket temperatures within 125 to 150 degrees. Or if you can’t heat it up to the ideal range, you can use a well-designed pile which has composted for over a year to make your ideal tea.
How often to use compost tea
Over application of compost tea is not recommended. Instead, you need to feed your plants with a frequency depending on the state of the soil, crop, rootzone and the length of the planting season. My advice is to apply compost tea every 2 weeks after the transplants and plants become established.
Established means they have overcome the transplant shock in the beginning, and set their roots under the ground for up to ten days.
Remember that too much of anything, no matter how good they are, can also turn bad. Though you want your plants to grow strong stems and roots to absorb better, too much compost can make the plant only focus o generating thick foliage in stead of fruit.
You must use compost tea right after you take it out of the brewer, or within 6 hours at the latest. This is because compost tea consists of living microbes. Once these organisms have consumed all the air and food inside the tea, they will end up dying quickly, thus impoverishing the tea’s nutrition.
Now you will ask what time of day should you apply compost tea. Here is the answer: mornings or evenings are preferable. However, for different type of applications you choose, it comes with different timing. If you use foliar applications, it’s best to add compost tea in the morning when the temperature doesn’t exceed 80 degrees. The tiny openings on the leaves, which are called stomata, can absorb nutrients. However, when the temperature goes up to 80 and 85 degrees, these stomata will fully close to help the plant avoid losing moisture.
Stomata are mainly located on the other side of the leaves, so you should spray on both sides. As wind can dry up the tea before your plants can absorb, I recommend you do the spraying when it is not too windy.
One thing to keep in mind: never spray on leaves in the evening. Compost tea spayed during this time will stay on the leaves for too long, make them wet and vulnerable to fungus.
How to apply
Here are four application methods I recommend using:
Spraying compost tea on the leaves can give the plant a direct shot of nutrients. You can try mixing 1 lb of C4 (AG-USA page) per tea gallon. C4 allows plants to absorb nutrients more efficiently through the leaves.
A shot of spray over the roots helps feed your plants through the root system. I usually use a watering can to water the leaves. Then a good deal of compost will drip off and enrich the soil.
Another great way to use compost tea is making it a transplant solution, to help your plants better transition to the new environment.
In case there is some tea left over, you may want to put it on the compost pile. This helps boost microbial activity of the pile, thus making compost quicker.
Compost tea, which is a safe, effective, and easy-to-make-and-use liquid, is a great food for your vegetable garden. Knowing how to make and how often to use compost tea will help you take better care of your plants and thus, reaping greater crops.