Tuesday, May 17, 2011

We're Making Compost Tea!

We're making chicken poop tea, to be exact (and explicit).  Not for drinking, oh no.  We're making it for our little plants, to keep them well fed.  Compost tea is a great way to stretch your compost.  Really, there is never enough compost.  The process involves soaking a bit of compost in water, the nutrients leach out of the compost and into the water and become highly available in a liquid form.  We're using chicken manure because we can - we've got lots!  We'll have to be careful because it can easily produce a tea that is very strong and liable to burn our little baby seedlings.  The basic process, which we've used before with vegetable compost, involves taking about two cups of compost and putting them into a muslin or cheesecloth bag.  For the chicken manure, we used an old stocking, because there will be finer particulate in manure.  Your bag doesn't have to be anything fancy - a square of fabric you tie at the top will do, could be an old, thin tea towel.  We suspend this bag in a five gallon pail for water, in a warm place, for three to five days.  This gives you a concentrate that we use to water our plants by diluting about one part of compost tea in three parts water.  For the chicken manure tea, we will dilute at about 1 to 20 parts water.  The compost in your bag can go back in the compost pile.  Keep the concentrate cool and dark - a couple of years ago I kept one in a warm, sunny place and it got very smelly.  Part of what I love about the process, aside from getting homemade natural fertilizer, is that the compost will contain micronutrients - more good stuff than just the N-P-K commonly found in commercial fertilizer.  There's lots of info online about compost tea - here's some rather more fancy instructions and recipes from La Vida Locavore.  They are adding a few other things to up the nutritional value.  Give it a try - it's really quite simple and gives you more-bang-for-your-compost!

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