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Where does my food come from series: DIY Compost Tea

By: Steve Frailey Wednesday April 1, 2020 comments Tags: compost tea, sustainable farming, organic farming, noni organic farming


Why compost tea is important?
Using chemical pesticides and fertilizers can kill good bacteria, fungi, and other micro-organisms that feed fruit and veggie plants alike. Organic compost tea can replenish the soil and give your plants what they need to thrive.

Science has shown that there is more nitrogen floating in the atmospheric air than in the ground. Nature is using rain to feed plants. As the rain droplets fall from the clouds and pass through the atmosphere, the rain droplets pick up the nitrogen and deliver it to the leaf of plants that drink in the nitrogen. Therefore, compost teas feed plants just like nature does with the rain. 

Did you know? The liquid that oozes from the base of a compost pile is called leachatel. Leachatel is a byproduct of the composting process. Leachatel occurs before the compost process is complete and may contain harmful pathogens. DO NOT use leachatel as compost tea.

Compost Tea Benefits
Compost tea functions include: 

  • Works against disease causing microbes
  • Can help degrade toxic pesticides
  • Produce plant growth hormones naturally
  • Mineralizes the soil without harmful nitrates
  • Optimizes nitrogen content in the soil naturally
  • Easily absorbed compared to other fertilization methods

How to brew compost tea
There are many ways to brew compost tea. Feel free to check out the sources at the bottom of this blog.

Typical Ingredients and Supplies

  • Five-gallon bucket 
  • Un-chlorinated water
  • 1 cup of worm castings
  • Organic molasses
  • 1 compost tea bag
  • Air pump (also called air stones), valve, and tubing for the pump
  • Watering can or backpack sprayer that has not been used with other chemicals

Cut a length of tubing and attach one end to the pump and the other to the valve. Cut three more lengths of tubing long enough to reach comfortably from the rim to the bottom of the bucket. Connect each cut tube to a port on the valve. This will enable you to aerate the compost tea.

Hang the valve on the lip of the bucket and bury the bubblers at the bottom, under the compost. Fill the bucket to within 3 inches of the rim with water, and start the pump.

Loosely fill the bucket half full of organic compost and 1 cup of worm castings. Worm castings (aka worm poop) is a great inoculant because worms use bacteria instead of digestive acids to break down food. The castings are rich in beneficial micro-organisms, some of which have been found to be effective in breaking down certain contaminants. Worm castings are also a source of humic acid, which is a good food source for your tea.
Click here for more on vermiculture!

Did you know? Compost curing for three to six months = fungal-dominated tea. Compost curing for one to three months = bacteria-dominated tea. 

Now that the air pump is running and you have your castings and compost in the bucket, add 1 oz. of molasses, and stir vigorously with a stick. The molasses feeds the bacteria and gets the beneficial species growing really well. After stirring, you’ll need to rearrange the bubblers so they’re on the bottom and well spaced. 

After about three days, turn off the pump and remove the hoses. Let the compost tea sit for approximately 10 to 20 minutes allowing the solid material to settle to the bottom of the bucket. Lastly, strain the compost tea into the sprayer. Use the newly brewed compost tea immediately.

We recommend spraying compost tea in the early morning or late afternoon. This ensures the tiny hair follicles on the leaves of the plant or tree are open and can drink in the nutrients. We also recommend spraying up from the underside of the leaves as this is where the tiny hair follicles are on the leaf. You may also water your plants with compost tea.  


Our favorite compost tea system is from Growing Solutions. We currently use their 20 gallon tank. Browse Growing Solutions here 

Farmers Tip: The beneficial micro-organisms in compost tea are fragile. It’s important to avoid high pressure sprayers when applying.

Click here for more organic farming tips!


Steve Frailey

About the Author: Steve Frailey

My wife and I (Steve Frailey) moved to Kauai, Hawaii in 1982 from our organic farm in California. There were no roads, electricity, water or buildings but lots of Noni trees (Morinda Citrifolia) in our valley. We also developed a deep relationship with Noni that was growing all through our valley.  Today we run our Hawaiian Organic Noni farm, and share the gift of health with people throughout the world.