How To Apply Compost Tea

Compost teas can be applied to pastures / turf grasses / lawns, vegetable gardens, annuals, perennials, houseplants, shrubs, trees, orchards, forests, and vineyards.; essentially anywhere plants grow

 Compost teas are alive, and should be served fresh

  • Compost teas are best if used immediately at the end of a brewing cycle
  • Compost tea should not be kept for more than 48 hours after removing from active aeration
    • Microbial populations will quickly begin to drop after removing from active aeration and teas can quickly go anaerobic   
  • Although not recommended, compost teas can be refrigerated for up to 30 days.
    • Check teas with microscope analysis to ensure desired biology is present prior to use
    • Garden teas such as plant extracts or home brewed fertilizers may keep for longer periods in refrigeration
    • Allow all teas to return to room temperature and re-activate by stirring or aerating for 1 or more hours prior to using
  • If your tea sits too long and smells foul dispose of it; onto a compost heap, down the drain (especially on septic systems) broadcast across the lawn, or away from precious plants

When to Apply Compost Teas:

  • It's best to apply compost teas when plants and soil are moist
    • Early morning and/ or near dusk, when dew conditions are present will help to ensure that beneficial organisms cultivated in compost teas remain active
    • Ultraviolet rays from the Sun can also be harmful to microbes. It is best to apply teas before 10:00am or after 6:00pm regardless of cloud cover and the time of year

 How to Apply Compost Teas:

  • Soil Drench
    • Apply as a soil drench or root dip when transplanting
    • For outstanding results apply at regular watering intervals
    • Apply from the base of plant as far out as the plants drip-line
    • Use plastic watering vessels as bacteria can eat-away at metal watering cans
  • Foliage Leaf Spray Applications of Compost Tea
    • Use a clean hand pump or pressurized sprayer
    • Diaphragm type sprayers work great for spraying compost tea
    • Do not exceed 70 psi (slow dispersion is better)
      • Most hand pump and diaphragm sprayers will not exceed 70 psi.
    • Spray Pattern should be wide and gentle with no hard splattering
    • Teas should cover at least 70% of the leaf surface for maximum effectiveness and remain moist for 15 minutes or longer
    • Avoid spraying open flowers and fuzzy-leafed plants, like African violets.
    • In dry conditions, spray teas early in the morning or in the evening to allow the organisms in the tea to remain moist and active after application

How Often to Apply Compost Tea:

  • For best results apply compost teas monthly or at regular watering intervals
  • In late winter or early spring: During the growing season:
    • Spray all trees, shrubs, and perennials with fungal dominated compost teas
    • Again before the formation of flower / leaf buds
    • Apply when flower / leaf buds begin to swell but have not opened
    • Apply after petals have fallen
    • Apply a balanced compost tea to all annual beds prior to planting or amending
  • Throughout the active growing season
    • At regular watering intervals
    • Apply at the first sign of any disease or insect infestation
    • Treat disease such as blight and leaf spot with fungal balanced compost tea
    • Treat insect infestations with bacterial dominated compost teas.

    Severe illness and infestation in plants are signs of nutritional and biological deficiencies in the soil and throughout the plant tissue. Plants are often treated with an organic fungicides or pesticides, to quickly diminish an illness or infestation.  These antimicrobial applications should be followed the next day with an application of compost tea.  The fungicides and pesticides are similar to anti-biotics and may destroy more biology than the targeted pest or pathogen.  Like a probiotic, compost teas can help to restore beneficial biology in the soil and on plant tissue.

How Much Compost Tea Should I apply?

  • For best results use compost teas at full-strength.
    • A full-strength tea will possess the maximum active biological diversity or nutrition content and be most effective
    • Compost and garden teas can be diluted at any ratio up to 10:1
    • Repeated applications of compost teas will only help to increase the diversity and populations of beneficial microbes
      • Root drench; apply 5-10 gallons (full-strength or diluted up to 10:1) per 1/4 acre
      • Foliage spray; apply to the point of runoff
      • Field spray; apply 5-gallons across up to 2 acres