What is Compost Tea?
Compost tea is an aerobic water solution that has extracted the microbe population from compost along with the nutrients. In simple terms, it is a concentrated liquid created by a process to increase the numbers of beneficial organisms as an organic approach to plant/soil care.
The concept behind compost tea is quite simple, though the actual process of making compost tea becomes scientific and very complex. The idea is that compost (full of beneficial microorganisms) is put into water and then nutrients or foods for the microorganisms is added to allow the bacteria and fungi to multiply rapidly.
Air is sent through the water to keep the water oxygenated, as this favors the beneficial bacteria and fungi over the pathogens (ex.-e coli). At the end of the brewing cycle, what you have is a concentrated liquid full of billions of microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes) that can then be sprayed directly onto the leaf surface. This puts the "good" biology where the plant needs it to protect itself. It keeps the plant healthier and helps it to fight off potential diseases.
The "good" biology occupies the infection sites on the leaf surface and is held there by simple sugars that the plant puts out (exidates) that work as a glue to keep the beneficial microorganisms thriving and protecting the plant. Compost tea has been used by many people all over the world with mixed results. Part of the problem relating to studies on compost tea is that there is a high diversity in the quality of the compost tea produced in many of these studies. After all, if you don't start with good compost, don't add the proper amount of nutrients, or don't keep the brew sufficiently aerated, you could be selecting for the "pathogens" rather than the "beneficials," and end up with compost tea that could potentially harm your plants. Much more likely is that the compost tea would be low in bacteria and fungi and have little more effect than putting water on your plant.
Compost Tea has been field tested to be effective in suppression of the following diseases:
- Black spot
- Mildew (downy)
- Needle cast on pine
- Vertilcillium wilt
- White flies
- Mealy bugs
- Tent caterpillars
- Leaf curl
- Red thread (early and late)
- Fungal diseases in ornamental cherries
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