We found this great article on Garden Gate Magazine about ‘compost tea’. It caught my attention because it sounds like something I kind of already do. But if there’s a simple, more effective way to improve my results, I’m all for it! I use ‘grey water’ to do a lot of my watering. Grey water is runoff from normal household activities. It can include sink water or bath water or even rain water. You’d be surprised how much water we use. When you start collecting your water rather than letting it run into the drain you get an idea of just how much water we tend to waste with our modern lifestyle.
The grey water I use for my plants doesn’t have soap or chemicals in it, I’m very careful to make sure the water is clean. But it does include cooking water. I’ve found that water used to boil potatoes or carrots or other vegetables is very nourishing for plants. You might want to avoid using very polluted water like when you make pasta. Almost killed my Easter Lily that way! Sorry Easter Lily. Anyway, back to compost tea. I wondered if my veggie water was something like compost tea!
The premise with compost tea starts with avoiding chemical fertilizers. Obviously, those give a plant just what they need for a short time, but they quickly need another fix. It’s great for fertilizer companies but bad for plants. Composting helps create a long-lasting, nutrient-rich soil profile that cares for the plants and other critters that live in the soil. A healthy garden takes into account the whole environment–not just the plants. The environment includes worms, bugs, microbes, even critters we tend to think of as infestations. Yes, even they add to an all-around healthy environment for our plants.
As I dug into this compost tea idea, I liked it even more because it uses plant matter we usually throw away. As a kid, we always did a lot of yard and garden work. We’d use all of our clippings and leaves etc. as compost. But that process took a very long time for the plant material to break down. Compost tea not only kick starts the process but it speeds up the process of getting those really great nutrients into the soil.
Now, I’m not going to pretend that compost tea is the easiest thing in the world, but there are different ways people go about making it. Find the one that matches your lifestyle/yard/garden best. You’ll want to pay attention to microbe profiles which change by season or type of plant material used. Like most things, be responsible in your efforts and have fun!
Here are some articles you might like for brewing your own compost tea: