Compost tea

I think the idea of compost tea is ridiculous. Why go through all the effort of compost tea? Why not just apply compost, mulch or manure and let the rain make the tea?

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I think a foliar application can increase nutrient uptake in some situations. Calcium would be a good example of that.

Spraying compost tea is also aimed at competitive colonization of the leaves with good microbes. Basically trying to reduce sugars on the leaf surface so there is less for pathogenic fungi and bacteria to eat. That affect is definitely debatable, but for those of us that subscribe to that method, that is one of the reasons for spraying leaves instead of just placing at the base of the tree.

Personally I like both approaches.

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I’ve been reviewing a bunch of scientific studies on foliar feeding with compost tea and most of then show that it has no more effect then spraying leaves with water.

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There are probably a lot of things we do that people would think are a waste of time. Growing fruit trees at all is probably at the top of that list.

I think compost tea is a no harm tool. Even if it doesn’t have a huge affect I don’t see the harm in it.

I would be curious to read those studies though if you want to share. It’s always good to keep learning.

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It sure seems to me to be no harm. I read a lot of articles, YouTube videos, Facebook groups with all of this promotion of compost teas including spraying the tea on the ground. Mostly I find it annoying, How could this be different than applying compost and letting the rain make the tea for you?
I’ll dig up the articles I’ve been reading.

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The longer I do this I also look for easier solutions, so I agree only putting compost on the ground would be easier. In fact I’ve gone a step further the last 2 years and I’ve been trying to compost in place around the fruit trees and not even bother with finished compost. I’ve been layering shredded leaves and grass clippings which I have plenty of on my property, and then topping that off with a modest amount of wood chips because those I have to purchase unfortunately. Or rent a wood chipper for the weekend.

I probably should try not spraying some of the trees just to compare.

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I’ve tried this approach on a 15 year old cornelian cherry in a dryish spot that had not opened any flowers (had the buds all over the bush) and had next to zero new growth last spring. Layed out branch+leaf clippings throughout the season, nut shells etc. and even apples nicked by wasps at the end of summer. No spraying or watering at all.
By autumn, there was nice mycelial growth nearly on the soil surface and I even picked some blewits around it through autumn. It bloomed like crazy and new growth looks great.
Hard to tell if any kind of mulch would have done the job, but I think the worms and bacteria were happy about the freshness. In any case, compost tea would not have done the job and mature compost would not have fed the soil dwellers, just the tree.

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I am growing fruit trees and I will agree that they were a waste of time and money.

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Me too. I skip the compost pile.

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I have to say it’s refreshing to have found a forum full of fellow time wasters, where we can debate the nuances of how we waste that time. Not to mention sharing new and creative ways to waste time in the future.

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I save it for the vegetable garden.

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I only use compost tea because my composter has a tank that collects it. I empty it when I empty my tumbler because that is when it is easiest.

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Composting in place to me is the most efficient method of applying nutrients to the plant and feeding the soil microbes. I heavily mulch, apply leaves, chop and drop weeds. I like to move and/or process materials once.

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There is some merit to use compost tea in organic cultural practice. The process of aerated brewing with added nutrients speeds up multiplication of microbes when applied to the plants acts in relatively short time. In addition, the same process speeds up breaking down organic plant nutrients to make it available for plants to take up. e.g. alfalfa meal can take few weeks to breakdown in soil.

that said, I don’t think brewing compost tea makes sense if the soil is in good shape. Never done foliar sprays.

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I have used it to fight powdery mildew and for that, it has been very effective. Heck if I have a powdery mildew’ed plant here, a compost pile there, and a 5-gallon bucket over yonder, it takes no effort and no cost to treat the plant.

What I find annoying is that the absolute best use of compost tea seem to be for people to push content on Youtube. Do you remember the old TV comedy shows, where they all did the same throupes at least twice? The switching places? The flashback episode? The school reunion episode? Well if you have a gardening channel you have to do the compost tea episode :stuck_out_tongue:

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Beautiful plant. What was the flavor profile?

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ive been putting green chicken manure around my trees and bushes for 7 years now and have never burned a plant or caused a N deficiency. just rots in place. just make sure it doesnt touch the trunk. it may burn that way. as long as its not turned into the soil you’re good to go. i dont use compost tea either but ive read some articles that say it can help prevent some fungal leaf diseases. never tested it myself though.

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Check Facebook marketplace or harbor freight. Both options are affordable if you can find a working machine and are willing to maintain it.

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Definitely on my wish list

Find yourself a plant somewhere suffering from powdery mildew to play with. Better yet two of them. There is a wild plant in my forest that gets it every year. Just load some compost in a bucket with water and wait a day, treat one of the plants and leave the other as the control group. It is effective and if you have compost it is free.

It also works well to inoculate dirt you bake for seedlings. Most plants benefit greatly from a symbiotic relationship with the soil biota. You first bake the dirt to remove all seeds and patogens, then use tea compost to reintroduce good soil critters. Compost is full of the decomposers that free up micro nutrients from decomposing matter.

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