What is Compost Tea?

Watering can pouring Compost Tea onto a plant

As gardeners, we always look for ways to improve the health and growth of our plants. One of the methods we stumbled upon is using compost tea. In this article, we'll explain what compost tea is, its benefits, how to make it, and common misconceptions about it.


What is Compost Tea?

Compost tea is the liquid version of normal compost. The compost is steeped in water, creating a tea-like mixture that is rich in nutrients and beneficial microorganisms. The mixture is then strained, and the liquid is used to feed plants. Compost tea can be made from any type of compost, including kitchen scraps, yard waste, and animal manure.


Benefits of Using Compost Tea

One of the significant benefits of using compost tea is that it enriches the soil with nutrients that plants need for growth. The nutrients in compost tea are readily available to plants, making them healthier and more productive. Compost tea also contains microorganisms that promote soil health by breaking down organic matter, improving soil structure, and suppressing diseases. Using compost tea can also reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, making it an eco-friendly option.


Compost Tea vs. Traditional Composting

Traditional composting involves layering organic materials and letting them decompose over time. While this method produces nutrient-rich compost, it takes longer to make and may not be as potent for your plants as compost tea. Compost tea is a faster way for your plants to extract nutrients from compost, making it more potent and suitable for quick fertilization of plants.


Compost Tea Ingredients

To make compost tea, you need several ingredients, including compost, water, and a food source for the microorganisms. The compost can be any type of organic material, such as leaves, grass clippings, or kitchen scraps. The water should be free of chlorine, as it can kill beneficial microorganisms. The food source can be molasses, sugar, or fish hydrolysate, which provides food for the microorganisms in the compost.


Different Types of Compost Tea

There are several types of compost tea, each designed for specific purposes. Aerated compost tea is made by adding oxygen to the mixture, promoting the growth of beneficial microorganisms. Vermicompost tea is made using worm castings, which are nutrient-rich and promote plant growth. Actively aerated compost tea is made using an air pump, which helps maintain the oxygen levels and increase the number of beneficial microorganisms.


How to Make Compost Tea

Making compost tea is relatively simple. First, fill a container with compost and add water. The ratio of compost to water should be 1:4. Next, add a food source for the microorganisms, such as molasses or fish hydrolysate. Let the mixture steep for 3-5 days, stirring occasionally. After the steeping period, strain the mixture, and the liquid is ready to use.


How to Apply Compost Tea

Compost tea can be applied to plants in several ways. It can be sprayed directly on the foliage or added to the soil around the plant's base. The best time to apply compost tea is in the morning or evening when the temperature is cooler. It is also essential to use compost tea within 24 hours of making it to ensure it retains its potency.


Common Misconceptions about Compost Tea

There are several misconceptions about compost tea that need to be addressed. One of the myths is that compost tea is a replacement for traditional composting. While compost tea is a faster way to extract nutrients from compost, it is not a substitute for traditional composting. Another misconception is that compost tea is a cure-all for plant problems. While compost tea is beneficial for plants, it cannot solve all plant health issues.



Compost tea is a valuable fertilizer that can improve plant health and reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. By understanding how to make and apply compost tea, gardeners can enrich their soil with beneficial microorganisms and nutrients. While compost tea is not a replacement for traditional composting or a cure-all for plant problems, it is a useful tool for any gardener looking to improve the health and growth of their plants.

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