Garden and Yard Care

Published on January 12th, 2012 | by Vivian Nelson Melle


How to Make Compost Tea

You may have learned about the wonders and magic of compost, but have you heard about compost tea. Before you pull up a chair and Grandma’s delicate China tea set, read about how to make this garden libation which will not only replace toxic fertilizers and chemicals, but will make use of your kitchen leftovers.

Here is a simple way to make compost tea this week.

compost additions

Compost additions

Start with a Good Compost

Composting makes use of food refuge which would normally end up in the garbage can. A compost bin takes in coffee grounds along with their filters, egg shells, veggie and fruit leftovers, yard clippings and other green wastes. The basic recipe for compost tea uses a ratio of one part of this compost to four parts water. It’s really that simple a recipe with just a few optional additions providing a more potent formula.

{cc photo courtesy of knitting iris Flickr}


Lots of worms

Poop Adds Magic to the Tea

Worms make for happy compost tea, or at least their waste does. The castings of red worms bring even more nutrients to the tea along. They are not needed for the basic compost tea recipe but most avid red worm composters swear by them. Don’t worry if you haven’t had success with your own red worm composting, either find a fellow gardener who has and ask for some or order castings online. Another addition which may crinkle your nose at first is bat guano. Yep, bat poop is quickly becoming a popular option for most gardens and mixes nicely into compost tea.

{cc photo courtesy of brep Flickr}



Add Some Sweet Molasses

Once you have your one part compost mixed into four parts water you will add about a two tablespoons of molasses for each four gallons of water. Molasses offers feeding to the beneficial bacteria you are breeding. Temperature is an important factor though and if it will rise above the sixties than lower the amount of molasses used. You want to feed the little guys, but not start a frenzy of voracious eating and multiplying.

{cc photo courtesy of waitscm Flickr}

compost tea

Compost tea

Aerating Your Tea

Once you’ve added your compost, water, castings, guano and molasses you will need to aerate the tea. Most gardeners use an aquarium bubbler which they leave going for a few days. If you don’t have a bubbler, or simply do not want to use added electricity, you can aerate the solution manually. Use a spoon to mix the solution a few times a day making sure to whip some air into it. The tea should smell like sweet soil so if it starts to give off smelly scents, you need to mix more or even start over if it gets bad enough. Keep the tea in a shaded area, out of the sun. After a few days you can strain the tea into your preferred watering container and sprinkle the magical drink on your favorite plants. The compost tea, if completely strained of matter, makes for a wonderful hydroponic garden solution as well.

Have you ever made compost tea? Tell us about your success stories and if you plan to give it a try.

{cc photo courtesy of Campobello Island Flickr}

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About the Author

Vivian Nelson Melle is a writer and life coach helping individuals, families, and businesses thrive. She supports small businesses especially in the areas of Green Living, Health, and Wellness. She can be found at and

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