Some gardeners prefer to use compost tea for fertilizing. Compost tea is a liquid produced by extracting beneficial microorganisms (microbes)—bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, and micro arthropods—from compost using a brewing process. A true compost tea contains all of the organisms that were present in the compost before brewing.
How to Make Compost Tea
Compost tea can be made with or without aeration, and with or without adding supplemental nutrient sources like molasses to feed microbes. For best results, aeration and supplements are recommended, and the right compost is critical. To learn how to make compost, visit
This sample recipe is good for vegetable crops:
- 5-gallon bucket, filled with water (let it sit for 24 hours to allow chlorine to evaporate)
- 1 fish tank aerator
- 1 compost tea brewing bag (either purchase one online or make one from a scrap of meshed material such as row covering, tied with twine—it should be large enough to hold 5 to 6 pounds of dry ingredients)
- 1 aquarium thermometer Ingredients
- 1 large handful of compost
- 1 handful of garden soil
- 2 handfuls of straw
- 1 cup fish hydrolysate (pulverized fish, available at most garden centers)
- 1 cup seaweed extract (available at most garden centers)
Put the first three ingredients ingredients into the tea bag, tie the bag tightly and submerge it in the bucket of water. Add the fish hydrolysate and seaweed extract liquids directly to the water. Place the aerator in the bucket and turn it on. Brew the tea for about 36 hours, monitoring temperature—the optimal temperature is between 68° and 72°F. Dilute it to a 3 parts tea to 1part water ratio before spraying. Fill a backpack sprayer. Spray early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid burning leaves in the midday sun.
Tip: If you do not have a backpack sprayer, apply tea to the soil using a gallon jug, and a spray bottle to mist the foliage.