Appalachian Tea It’s Good For The Garden


I like having a compost pile to help enrich the soil of my garden. I also like instant gratification. If you have a compost heap you know it can take a while.

A different approach to the compost heap is to make compost tea. It doesn’t take near as long to see the results. There are 2 different technical approaches to making the tea. Both methods result in a mineral and nutrient rich drink for your plants.

The first is aerobic tea. Oxygen is added by a pump to fully aerate the tea. You can use a small pump like the ones used in fish tanks. The pump speeds the process and the tea is usually ready in 1 to 3 days.

The second way is called anaerobic tea-no pump is needed. By stirring the tea several times a day enough air is added to aid in the microbial growth. This process is slower and usually takes up to a week or a little longer.

I chose the anaerobic method since I don’t have a pump but happen to have two nut job daughters who like to play in the mud.

The recipes for compost tea are plentiful. The tea can be as simple as putting a few shovels of compost into a bucket and covering with water or you can add things like: rotten fruit, seaweed emulsion, fish emulsion, molasses, alfalfa meal, corn meal, apple cider vinegar, or citric acid along with the compost.

We chose to use the ingredients we had on hand. Cornmeal-1 cup, molasses-2 tablespoons, cider vinegar-1 tablespoon, and a few shovels of compost.

After you add the ingredients-cover it all with water.

The tea needs to brew for at least a week with daily stirring. The tea is ready when it has an earthy or yeasty smell. It should also look a little foamy on top. If your in doubt-let it set a week and then use it.

The recipe made-about 5 gallons. Compost tea is quite strong and should be diluted in a ratio of 1 part tea to 10 parts water. With just a little effort you can take a small amount of compost and increase its use to cover a large area of your garden. Most recipes advise you to strain the compost out of the tea water by using old pantyhose or cheese cloth. The strained materials can be added back to your compost pile to keep on working.

I hope you try the tea-it really gives plants a pick me up. Have you ever tried making compost tea? Or do you have any other gardening tips?



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  • Reply
    September 15, 2010 at 8:19 am

    A good boost to a garden is fertilizing with fish! The hub and sons have “harvested” carp from the river and then buried them in different parts of the garden in early spring! Does wonders for the corn and most everything in the garden.

  • Reply
    June 27, 2008 at 11:08 am

    Iiiiiinteresting! We compost EVERYTHING, so I will definitely be trying compost tea! Thanks for the info…you got yourself a new reader! 🙂

  • Reply
    June 19, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    That does it. I am starting my compost pile now! I’ve been thinking about it and thinking about it some more for months now and after seeing how easy to make this tea is I have to do it. Plus, I’ve got a bunch of little mud lovers too :). Thanks for posting this, it’s just the push I needed.

  • Reply
    June 18, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    I have a compost pile but you’re right – it takes forever. I am definitely trying your compost tea! I thank you and my tomatoes will undoubtedly thank you!

  • Reply
    Erica Burgan
    June 16, 2008 at 1:23 am

    Your post is up over at the Carnival of Homesteading – Tribute to Fathers Edition. Come and check it out!
    Thanks for your submission.

  • Reply
    June 12, 2008 at 9:48 am

    Great idea! My great grandmother used to make manure tea. She called it “special sauce.” LOL

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    June 10, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Tipper: Jerry Baker is a well know gardener on PBS who also has a garden tea. I have his DVD but never made the tea. I think this should help you have some great vegetables.

  • Reply
    The Park Wife
    June 9, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    I was referred to your post by one of my readers. I am going to definitely try this, I will start it tomorrow. Also, I like the tip about putting egg shells around my tomato plants from Mary. They REALLY need some help.
    The Park Wife

  • Reply
    Jennifer in OR
    June 9, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Sound delicious. 🙂 I’ll have to try this, I’m going to need some enrichment for my garden for sure.

  • Reply
    June 9, 2008 at 2:07 am

    Well I never – I’ve heard of coffee grounds and all sorts of stuff but this is new. I don’t compost – no space, but I will keep it in mind for the future! Thanks =)

  • Reply
    June 9, 2008 at 1:29 am

    My sister makes a compost tea similar to this. I have never tried it but you make it look so simple. I think I just might try it.

  • Reply
    June 8, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    I think my husband would really like to try this on our garden. He’s always up for a new idea and especially one that involves mixing goop together. Maybe we’ll have a garden tea party–is that one lump or two. 🙂
    Thanks for the info~
    P.S. One of his concoctions involved habaneros pepper tea to deter pests in the garden. You can’t even be in the room when he brews the stuff–unless you enjoy the effects of tear gas.

  • Reply
    June 8, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    hmmmmmmmmmm….not sure i am ready for this. it is back down to 60, at least it isnt 40. i am baking mark some orange cupcakes and i ate fruit for breakfast…i am make an earnest effort to shed some (many) #s. i am sure my knees will rejoice :-)got the tomatotes, onions, peppers and marigolds in yesterday. oh, and they are iris not gladdiolis like i thought. i guess the glad croaked under the snow, but not them iris. i will have a big job this fall, digging up, separating and replanting the iris and daffodils.

  • Reply
    June 8, 2008 at 11:55 am

    It sure looks like your daughters have a lot of fun. They are beautiful!
    I have never tried compost tea but now that you’ve explained how to make it I will. Thanks for the tip.
    Garden tip: If you grow tomatoes, save your egg shells, crush them and turn them into the dirt around the tomato plants being sure not to damage the roots. Tomatoes love calcium.
    Take care and enjoy your family.

  • Reply
    June 8, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Hey Tipper,
    Have you ever tried manure tea? I use this method when I have time. It works about the same as yours, only you use manure from horses or cows. I learned it from my Great Uncle years ago.

  • Reply
    June 8, 2008 at 11:37 am

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who have girls that love to play in the mud!

  • Reply
    noble pig
    June 8, 2008 at 10:37 am

    And I thought I’d heard of everything! This is a new one for me…very interesting.

  • Reply
    The Texican
    June 8, 2008 at 9:16 am

    Hi Tipper, Thanks for coming by this morning for a bit of Pappy’s Balderdash. I like your site, very appealing. I’ll be back. I hope you’ll drop in from time to time. Always good to have new folks to share with. Pappy

  • Reply
    June 8, 2008 at 8:43 am

    I never have made it but now feel like I should. 🙂

  • Reply
    June 7, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    We never made the tea, my Grandad owned a hog farm so that was our compost. Since Grandad knew a green grocer, he gave him all the discarded produce in exchange for hams and bacon. Those hogs ate really well, and my Grandma’s vegetable and flower gardens produced very well because of it. xxoo

  • Reply
    June 7, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    I have never tried compost tea. Think I’ll give it a try. I did not realize it was so easy to make. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    June 7, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    hi Tipper
    Wanted to introduce myself! I “met” you at Diary of 1 – friends of Jen. Love your site! Spent the day in the garden today, trying to get it ready to plant but we are having such a cold spring that it’s just not time yet! Predicted to snow here again, next week! So, basil and tomatoes are waiting but much more waiting and there will be no harvest before the fall freeze comes!!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy, Black Mountain, North Carolina
    June 7, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    I’ve heard of compost tea but this is the first directions I’ve seen. It sounds simple enough. Do you suppose it would work on house plants also?
    I’ve got the directions now all I need is one big strong man in shorts to put it together and two gorgeous girls to stir it!!!

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