The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

On The Table

May 29, 2013

Amanda Stone: Compost tea energizes garden

JOPLIN, Mo. — I'm a big believer in positive thinking. It can't hurt, right?

With all the recent storms, you may have some extra tree limbs and vegetation scattered in your yard. But it's not all bad -- your compost pile will love it.

It's tea time. Compost tea, that is. Compost tea is a simple way to fertilize your garden while naturally controlling pests and fungus. It can be a little messy, but if you like to garden and eat good, clean food, a little mess comes with the territory.

The beauty of compost tea is that it takes a little bit of compost and makes it into a lot of fertilizer. It turns into a lovely liquid compost concentrate; perfect for the gardener who wants to avoid chemical help. If a compost pile doesn't work for you, bagged compost will work just fine.

There are two methods of making compost tea: steeping and brewing. Steeping tea is simple, but brewing compost tea involves using tubes, a bubbler and other items I don't have on hand. Steeped it is. Depending on the size of your garden, use a 5-gallon bucket, a 35-gallon trash can or something in between. Plop some compost into your container, making it about a quarter full or a little less. Grab your hose and fill the container with water. Use the handle of your shovel to give it a stir at least once a day. Stirring adds oxygen to the mix, keeping your tea from getting stinky. For the same reason, leave it uncovered.

Your tea will be ready to use on your garden in just a couple of days. Scoop the tea out and pour it on plant leaves for a quick boost, or let it soak into the soil.

When I make a cup of green tea, I like to use the tea bag two or three times. Compost tea acts much the same way; you can dilute it a few times and then throw the used, wet blob of compost on your garden and start over.

Think of compost tea as superfood for your garden. It's alive and full of good bacteria ready to help you have a successful harvest. Compost tea is good for your garden in the same way that probiotics are good for your gut.

Use your compost tea to assist in the growing of the fresh produce needed for these recipes.

 

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