When making aerated compost tea, you can of course simply extract the microbes that are present in the compost. But, as you probably know, if you add certain foods to the brew, you can also multiply them. The foods also add plant nutrients and minerals.
Multiplying aerobic microbes means they need to breathe oxygen, so aeration is absolutely important. Including foods in compost tea brewing is really a balancing act of supplying an optimum amount of foods without creating anaerobic conditions.
The brew kits I am selling typically contain enough compost for one brew, plus a pouch of custom made dry foods. Alas, the latest shipment of foods is stuck in the mail... so I wanted to give you some guidelines on how to make your own:
Basic Recipe for 1.5 lbs compost in 5 gal of water:
1 tablespoon humic acid powder (15 ml - also helps neutralize chloramine in the water) 2 tbsp blackstrap molasses (30ml) 2 tbsp liquid kelp 1 tbsp liquid fish (15ml), OR 1 tbsp sea minerals (not both together) up to 5 tbsp EM (75ml - preferably activated for cost reasons; best at the end of the brew because it doesn't want to be aerated)
In the February newsletter I talked about customizing composts. You can do the same with compost tea:
For high fungal tea, use fungal compost with the above recipe but with less molasses, and add a little more fish, plus a tablespoon of yucca extract, and a couple tablespoons of oatmeal. (You can even try and pre-treat your compost by mixing a tablespoon of liquid fish into the compost in advance, and letting it sit for one week without stirring. This will get a lot of fungi growing...!)
For high bacterial tea, use bacterial compost with the above recipe and add a little more molasses, plus a couple tablespoons of fruit juice or fruit pulp.
Note, compost tea will only ever be as good as the compost it is made from, and the added foods will multiply the good guys as well as any bad. Always use the highest quality compost you can find.
Want to check out what Phil is up to these days?
Have a look at the "Smiling Gardener" web site: http://www.smilinggardener.com/ There is plenty of fabulous free material on a host of organic gardening topics, including fun videos and timely blogs, all presented in typical nice-and-easy "Phil fashion". I go there all the time, and I always learn something new.
Phil has also finished writing "The Holistic Gardening Handbook" this spring (Update: Now published by Acres U.S.A. as 'Building Soils Naturally'): http://www.smilinggardener.com/book It's getting rave reviews from readers and gardeners across North America! I highly, highly recommend this - a really important work. What I perhaps like most about it is that it is both easily accessible for beginner gardeners and at the same time offers thorough science for professionals. Phil sells an e-book and audio version for now (with many yummy extras). A paper version is planned for later this year. I hope Phil will let me sell it...!
And now, back to the garden! The cat and I have a lot of lying in the grass to do... Happy Summer Solstice!