Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Applying compost tea

Over the past 2 weeks I have been making and applying our own compost tea. I am still experimenting with different recipes and seeing what kind of results I can get. The idea is to get the highest quality tea at the lowest price per gallon. I have used several different people's solid compost. Harry MacCormack's leaf, Shepard Smith's compost, and Joe Richard's vermicompost. I have used various things as food: Hendrikus Organic's Organobloom 5-2-4, EarthFort's Solu-Plks and Acadian Kelp, and fish from Bob Wilt. The first batch had zero active fungi so I didn't apply it. It hindsight I wish I had, as the bacterial counts were good and you don't necessarily need high fungal counts all the time. The second batch I used a recipe from Soil Foodweb and pretreated the compost for 3 days with fish and Solu-Plks. The results that came back were very good, but the cost of the ingredients is very high. I am trying to find out if I can get good tea without using the kelp or pretreating the compost. The kelp is extremely expensive, about 167 dollars for 10 pounds, and it takes 5 pounds per 1200 gallon batch. Pretreating helps increase the fungal counts, but it takes an extra 2 or 3 days. Having that much time between batches is difficult this time of year when every patch of good weather has to be taken. I am waiting on the test results from my latest batch which was made with Joe Richard's vermicompost, 40 oz of fish, and 80 oz of Solu-Plks. I have been applying the tea to our higher value ground first. That is to say the wheat, peas, and flax. The grass seed ground is a lower priority but is still important. Due to various hang-ups with getting the brewer up and running and figuring out a recipe that works we are a few weeks behind schedule on spraying. After this fall application we will not spray again until the spring.

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