What is Compost Tea?
Compost tea is alive. The benefits it provides cannot be purchased from a shelf, they must be cultivated intentionally and used deliberately so life can remain alive. Compost tea is the only means of "growing soil" and results in thriving ecosystem with plants that can withstand the stress of target pests, disease, draught, etc.
Compost Tea is brewed by aerating beneficial soil microbes from high quality compost in a solution containing premium organic fertilizers. In the presence of food and oxygen the beneficial soil microbes grow to extraordinary concentrations.
Think of microbes like construction workers. Your job as the contractor is to consistently bring them to the job site so that they may build the neighborhood. once the neighborhood is built the soil will be working for you, reducing the need to irrigate and fertilize to support growth.
Another good analogy to understand how important soil microbes are is to consider the soil food web like you would all of the fish and organisms in the ocean. What would happen if you took all of the plankton out? Life as we know it would end.
The soil food web consists of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and nematodes. Think of bacteria as the plankton, and the nematodes as the sharks. Apex predators like sharks only appear in mature ecosystems, and the average landscape or garden does not have mature soil, and therefore does not have the higher organism present. This is the source of common landscape and garden pest and disease issues - there is simply nothing there to eat what is eating your plant. The pathogen thrives in the void. Beneficial soil microbes eliminate fire ants, grubs that bring moles, chinch bug, mole cricket, ground pearl, fleas, you name it from the landscape over time, and they grow your soil so you don’t have to constantly irrigate and fertilize.
Much of the reason we take microbes for granted is we cannot see them. Some stats:
Microbes are small. Up to 500,000 bacteria can fit in the period of the exclamation point at the end of this sentence! There’s another universe down there.
Microbes are magical. Humans cannot accomplish the vital processes required to accomplish healthy soil. The soil food web not only creates perfect plant food, but they help plants eat it and protect them from stress and disease. Plus they work as Nature’s recycler to mitigate contaminants and environmental toxins.
Microbes are abundant. A teaspoon of native grassland soil contains 600-800 million bacteria comprising ~10,000 species, plus approximately 5,000 species of fungi, the mycelia of which could be stretched out for several miles. In the same teaspoon, there may be 10,000 individual protozoa of over 1,000 species, plus 20-30 different nematodes from as many as 100 different species.
Microbes are extraordinarily prolific. According to the book Secrets of the Soil, a single microbe reaching maturity and dividing within less than half an hour, can, in the course of a single day, grow into 300 million more, and in another day to more than the number of human beings than have ever lived. In four days of unlimited growth, bacteria can outnumber all of the protons and even the quarks estimated by physicists to exist within the entire universe.
Here is a listing of some of the benefits found from growing with microbes and compost tea:
• Increased Fertility: Microbes make plant food, that’s how soil works. You can think of microbes as miniature fertilizer factories making perfect meals for your growing plants. And the best part is, it only gets better with time!
• Use Less Water: Growing with microbes increases the soils ability to retain water through correcting soil structure, increasing organic matter and exchange capacity, and through through the presence of the living organisms themselves. Compost tea can reduce water usage 20-40% and in many cases eliminates the need for irrigation in landscapes entirely.
• Higher Yields: Improving the fertility and maturity of the soil automatically enhances the garden or farms ability to grow larger and more abundant crops.
• Treat Disease: Disease organisms are merely a microbes that are eating your plant who has nothing to eat them. Many commercial biological biocides are derived of microbes found in compost tea and in healthy soil. Rather than trying to kill the disease, you can elminate it with microbial balance.
• Mitigate Pests: Many soil microbes seek protein, and the exoskeleton of pests is protein, so consistent applications have shown compost tea to have pesticidal properties. But the most effective pest control is healthy biologically diverse soil and a healthy plant.
• Reduce Weeds: Weeds are indicators of mineral and biological imbalance in the soil. For example, clover grows to regenerate nitrogen in the soil. Almost 80% of the air we breathe is nitrogen, so you get it for FREE from nitrogen-fixing bacteria that thrive in healthy soil. ti should be noted that this is best experienced in lawns as any soil left uncultivated or without perennial plants like turf will experience weeds.