Worm castings compost tea

Contents

How to Make Compost Tea with Worm Castings

Brew Worm Compost Tea using this Simple Vermicompost Tea Recipe

What is compost tea?

Compost tea is a tea made from steeping (or brewing) compost instead of tea leaves. It isn’t appetizing for you but your plants will love it! The nutrients and beneficial microbes in the compost diffuse into the water making liquid fertilizer for your plants. There are two ways to make compost tea with worm castings: the basic method (simple steeping) or the aerated, brewed version. This article will teach you a compost tea recipe and instructions for both compost tea brewing methods.

What is vermicompost tea?

Vermicompost tea is simply compost tea with worm castings. It is brewed using vermicompost (also called worm castings or worm poop) as your compost instead of compost from a hot compost pile. Using your vermicompost or vermicast to make worm compost tea is a great use of your nutrient rich worm castings. Not yet worm composting at home? Learn to start here or buy composting worms here.

Simple or Basic Worm Compost Tea Recipe

To make a batch of basic compost tea with worm castings, all you really need to do is soak some vermicompost overnight in water. I prefer to use something as a makeshift tea bag because it makes it less messy but it is not necessary. Here is the basic worm compost tea recipe that I use.

  • Find something to use as a compost tea bag (old t-shirt, panty hose, cheese clothe, etc). For more about compost tea bags read: What to use as a Compost Tea Bag
  • Fill your homemade tea bag with worm compost and tie off the open end of the tea bag somehow.
  • Submerge the worm compost tea bag in a bucket of water. I use a 5 gallon bucket but any size bucket will work.
  • Let it sit overnight. In the morning the water should be light brown.
  • Because the beneficial microbes in the worm compost tea will start to die off, water your garden first thing in the morning for best results.
  • Remove the worm compost tea bag from the bucket, cut it open and add the worm compost either to your garden, your worm compost bin, or your hot compost pile.

Aerated, Brewed Worm Compost Tea Recipe

A Handful of Vermicompost
To brew a batch of aerated worm compost tea, you will do roughly the same procedure as the basic worm tea recipe except you will be introducing a sugar source and an aeration device. The sugar and aeration wake up, feed, and increase the population of the beneficial microorganisms living in the worm compost, making this method the absolute best for your plants. Here is my aerated, brewed worm compost tea recipe:

  • Put roughly 4 to 6 cups of finished worm castings (without a tea bag) into a 5 gallon bucket. I never measure, just throw in a few handfuls of vermicompost.
  • Add 4 gallons of water (rain or well water is best because it is not chlorinated but city water will work).
  • Add 1 ounce of unsulfured molasses to provide a food source for the beneficial microorganisms living in the worm poop. You can use almost any sugar source here. NOTE: Adding a sugar source will increase beneficial microorganisms but it will also increase any harmful pathogenic microbes as well. If you suspect your worm compost contains harmful microbes, do not add molasses.
  • Stick the bubbler (airstone) end of an aquarium aerator down to the bottom of the bucket and turn it on. Let it brew for about 3 days, stirring occasionally.
  • You may want to strain the worm compost tea before using.
  • For best results, use the brewed worm tea immediately.
  • Tip for even better results: Follow the worm compost tea recipe above, but add 2 cups of alfalfa pellets (rabbit food), for some extra Nitrogen in the worm tea brew.

How to Use Worm Compost Tea

Watering plants with Worm Compost Tea
Now that you have made a batch of compost tea with worm castings, try one of the below methods in your garden or home. If you have a large garden or many houseplants, worm compost tea can be diluted with water to cover more area. Check out these uses for worm compost tea:

  • Water your garden as you normally would
  • Water your houseplants
  • Use the worm compost tea to water seedlings or baby plants
  • Cover a whole plant with worm compost tea including the leaves. Many people believe that the beneficial microbes in worm tea help protect plants from diseases. A sprayer or spray bottle works well. Be sure to strain the worm compost tea before adding it to the spray bottle.
  • Serve worm compost tea at your next tea party.
  • NOTE: one of these is a joke.

Ready to Start Worm Composting?

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Compost, Worm and Weed Teas

If you are a gardener who tries to reduce your impacts on the natural environment, you will be using methods which avoid manufactured fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides and which minimize waste. So you’re into composting and worm farming and mixing the resulting solid material into the soil. However, at many times of the year a liquid fertilizer in the form of a “tea” may give plants, especially vegetables and fruit trees, a boost that is quicker than applying the manure, worm castings or compost which release their nutrients much more slowly. Such teas can be made from compost, weeds and other greenery and manures. How do you make and use them? What are their pros and cons?

The advantages of using teas are said to be:

  • They provide nutrients for you plants more quickly in the soil than the solid material used to make them.
  • The microbes in them make soil nutrients available and help prevent soil and plant diseases, something that commercial fertilisers do not do.
  • They are cheaper than commercially manufactured fertilisers.
  • Unwanted plant material in your garden can be turned into something really useful.
  • They make the garden more self-sufficient by recycling material it has produced.

On the other hand, because the effect of teas depends on the quality of the starting materials, how the teas are made, the climate, when they are applied, the plants they are used on and the state of the soil before their use, there is debate about their usefulness, with some findings that they can be harmful.

Extracts and teas

Don’t confuse extracts and teas. The simplest, but not the best, method of making a liquid fertiliser from your garden material is to make an extract. This is made by covering some compost, worm castings or manure with water for a few hours or days. Nutrients and minerals from the solid materials dissolve in the water and microorganisms present on the solids can enter the liquid. This can then be used by either applying directly to the soil or, when diluted to the colour of weak tea, as a foliar spray. However, these extracts are inferior to teas which have been brewed.

Why bother making a tea?

If properly brewed, teas provide much more than minerals and other nutrients. They are also very rich in microorganisms, a mixture of bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes, which can fight plant disease-causing organisms in the soil and on foliage and can convert soil nutrients into forms that can be taken up by plants. They usually take longer to make than extracts and may involve more effort. For many gardeners and organic farmers, making compost tea is both a science and an art. And there are many different opinions about what method is best and, indeed, whether they work at all.

Compost tea

To prepare compost tea, put mature compost into a container like a bucket or plastic rubbish bin. You can put compost straight into it or into a “bag” which can be made from a piece of shade cloth or other material with small holes like old net curtains, stockings of panty hose. Cover the compost with water. It is preferable to use rain water, filtered water or mains water that has been allowed to stand for 24 hours to allow the chlorine to off-gas before adding to the weeds. The removal of chlorine makes it easier for microorganisms to multiply. You will need to add something to start the process off by providing easy to access nutrients for microbial growth. The best additions are brown sugar or molasses but others could be some fish meal, some canned fish which has been allowed to “go off”, grain meal, fish food, rotten fruit, compost, garden soil or finished compost. Nitrogen rich vs sugar rich additions give different results in terms of favouring bacteria or fungi.

Then there are two ways you can brew the tea:

Aerobic

This requires aeration. This process provides oxygen which allows aerobic microorganisms to multiply rapidly and break down the plant material. You could use a stick, which means you will need to stir it several times a day for about 10 days. In between stirring, cover the bucket or bin loosely so that air can enter. But unless you really like physical exercise and can remember to stir each day, using a fish tank aerator for about 3 days is a good alternative. There are many websites which provide ideas for you to make your own compost tea aerator, and there are even some commercially available assemblies.

Tea made this way will not smell unpleasant and should be used straight away. There are different opinions about how long the tea should be brewed. It really depends on your compost, the temperature and the nature of aeration. At some point, aerobic microorganisms will have used available nutrients and not be getting enough oxygen, so anaerobic microorganisms will take over. At this stage it will start to smell wiffy – but don’t despair. You can use it quickly before the aerobic microbes all die (because there will always be a few aerobic microorganisms) or let it go on brewing under anaerobic conditions.

Anaerobic

Some practitioners recommend that it might be better for home gardeners to use the easier anaerobic method which does not involve aerating and favours microorganisms which do not require oxygen. Just cover the container fairly firmly and wait for about 3 weeks. It requires longer and tends to be smellier but still produces a useful product. Some say that after the anaerobic microbes have finished, aerobic ones will take over again. But as I indicated, there is some controversy over this.

Worm tea and worm farm leachate

Most of us are also familiar with the liquid that comes out of the worm farms – called names such as worm wee, worm juice or worm tea, but really is a leachate. It contains plant nutrients, but is not rich in microorganisms like compost tea. Worm leachate really needs to be used cautiously since it contains “bad” bacteria as well as “good” and may be harmful to plants, especially if it smells “off”.

For worm tea, the castings from a worm farm can replace compost in the teas described above.

Weed tea

The best weed tea is made from plants with deep roots like comfrey, dandelion and nettle since they have incorporated minerals that have been leached from topsoil. Making weed tea is also a great way of extracting nutrients from plant material you don’t want in either your garden or in your compost heap where they would start multiplying. It also includes plants with runners and those which take root easily.
Follow the methods described for compost tea but it may be necessary to weigh the weeds down between stirring because they may float.

Manure tea

Animal manure can be used to make a tea by the same methods as for compost tea. However, there is a high risk of producing a brew which contains organisms which can be harmful to both plants and humans, especially if it is anaerobic. An extract, however, is a quick way making a nutrient-rich solution, but it will not have the same benefits as a microorganism-rich aerobic tea.

Using teas

Remove the bag which contains the solids and let it drain into the container. Or if you haven’t used a bag, pour the liquid through some shade cloth or other fine material laid in a soil sieve. It would be wise to do this wearing rubber gloves (and perhaps a peg on your nose!) since this might be a pretty potent and smelly brew. Put the solid material into your compost heap where it will break down further.

Remember, teas contain living organisms and should be treated with respect. Sun and heat can kill them, so apply them to the garden early in the morning or after dusk. The most useful times of the year to use them appear to be early spring, several times during the growing season and towards the end of autumn so that the organisms can work in the soil over winter.

Handle the brews carefully with gloves and don’t apply to vegetable leaves that will be eaten, especially if anaerobic and smell bad, since it is possible that pathogenic organisms are present. Use the tea diluted one to ten as a foliar spray, or less diluted if applying to soil.

And don’t expect miracles – results depend on so many factors that they are impossible to predict. We’d be interested in hearing of your experience.

Worm tea has the same benefits as worm castings, but in liquid form. Castings are produced when worms break down the organic matter in the soil. It is also called “worm manure” or “worm humus.” These castings are present in the worm beds. When you run water through these castings, nutrients such as nitrogen, calcium and magnesium are picked up. The process of harvesting worm castings is called “vermicomposting.”

How to Make Worm Tea
For making worm tea, you will need a large bin or worm compost bin, such as the Wiggly Wranch bin. The bottom tray should have a drainage spout and holes for aeration. Soak a handful of worm castings in at least 5 liters of warm water.Allow the castings to soak for a couple of days. Next add a teaspoon of molasses (optional). Molasses will promote the growth of micro-organisms. If you feed your worms a balanced diet such as fruits and vegetables (no meat or dairy) they will produce the best castings and worm tea. The water must be chlorine free because chlorine will destroy the “good” bacteria. To help conserve water, rain water is a good source of unchlorinated water to use. Pete Ash, an experienced gardener, long time master composter, and organic farming and gardening teacher, crafts a tea bag of the compost and vermicompost to soak in water. He suggests using an aquarium pump to keep the water aerated to stimulate micro-organism growth. Pete says, “The idea is to wash the microbes out of the compost into the water; adding a simple starch or sugar to the brew to feed the bacteria that are breeding. Use the wash water from rice rather then washing it down the drain.”

How to Use Worm Tea
The best way to use worm tea is to dilute it. Pete owns a few Wriggly Wranch bins. He dilutes the worm tea with 4 to 6 parts water (or more) for foliar spray applications. He also recommends using the tea within a couple of days and as it accumulates it may spoil. It is not clear to anyone how long worm tea should brew for, but if it smells bad you should not use it. Pete harvests his castings regularly because the mucus can build up along with bacteria and can actually become toxic for the worms. As Pete says, “No one likes to live in their own feces.”

Benefits of Worm Tea
Worm tea and compost is excellent for a garden. Pete uses worm tea as a foliar spray and compost tea as a field spray. There are many, many uses for worm tea. Here are a few ways to use worm tea to grow healthy fruits and vegetables:

Use worm tea as an inoculant for potting soil. The nutrients in worm tea help seedlings grow strong. It is suggested that inoculation should be done two weeks before you plant your seedling.
Worm tea also helps recover polluted soil. If you repeat the worm tea applications, the microbes will convert and metabolize organic and inorganic chemicals. The worm tea will help sequester the heavy metals found in chemicals.
Sometimes lawns can become sterile due to chemical treatment. Worm tea will repopulate the soil with microbes, enrich the roots and break down the thatch turning it into food for grass.
During hot summer days, worm tea can help retain water in soil.
If you decide to use worm tea as a foliar spray, it will help your plants produce more foliage and larger stems. This greatly helps plants that are lacking enough sun.
You may also add worm tea to a compost pile to speed-up the break-down process.
By using worm tea, you can help the environment by reducing and even eliminating the use of chemical fertilizers that can cause water pollution. Studies show an average American family produces a ton of waste each year. The estimate is 1/3 or ½ of household waste is organic matter (kitchen waste). If you vermicompost, you will reduce the amount of organic matter that ends up in landfills, help mitigate global warming and make nitrogen-rich organic fertilizer and worm tea for yourself. Vermicomposting is nature’s way of completing the recycling loop. If you are interested in learning about “the circle of life…the circle of rot” please refer to our March 2003 newsletter for a discussion of why you should compost, how this is improves healthy soil, which in turn creates healthy vibrant plant life.

How to Use Worm Tea in Your Garden

“Your garden will love a “cuppa” worm tea on a regular basis!

Welcome back to the “Feeding Your Garden” blog series. One of the keys to a healthy, productive garden is to feed your plants and garden soil powerful, organic nutrients on a regular basis.

In the last post, we learned what a powerful soil amendment worm castings are, in this post, we’ll learn all about worm tea.

Worm WHAT? Yes, worm tea. No, you don’t drink it, but your plants do, and they LOVE it!

VermisTerra Earthworm Tea – Liquid Gold

Although I had a worm bin at one time, I found it time consuming and difficult to produce the amount of worm castings I needed for my garden, let along produce worm tea.

VermisTerra does all the heavy lifting with their ready made earthworm tea. Their worm tea is microbial-rich concentrate, shelf-stable, comes in a quart or a gallon size, and is a snap to use on my garden. Along with VermisTerra’s worm castings, I have been using their worm tea in my garden for several month – the results are impressive! I like to call it “liquid gold”.

My lettuce gardening is thriving with a weekly dose of worm tea.

Lettuce garden – My lettuce garden receives a weekly dose of VermisTerra worm tea, and produced loads of lettuce through a fall heat wave, and is still going strong today, well into the winter. We eat out of it every single day! And because the worm tea makes the plant tissues stronger, the greens last me 7-10 days in the fridge after harvesting!

Strawberry Crate Tower watered with worm tea thrives in frost

Strawberry Crate Towers – Many of you have seen my strawberry crate towers in my videos. To test the effectiveness of VermisTerra worm tea, for several months, I watered one tower with VermisTerra worm tea once a week, and the other towers with the same liquid fertilizer I have always used once a week. The strawberry plants watered with worm tea held up to frosts with minimal damage to the leaves, have larger leaves, and are starting to flower. The plants that did not receive their “cuppa” VermisTerra worm tea had significant more leaf damage after a frost, leaves are smaller, and have no flowers. Worm tea at work!

VermisTerra worm tea provides a nutrient boost to your plants!

Worm tea is an organic liquid fertilizer derived from worm castings, and is a powerful soil nutrient that contains all the benefits of worm castings. It gives your plants a boost and works quickly to provide your garden powerful nutrients.

VermisTerra worm tea contains microbes and beneficial bacterial that are dormant in the concentrate, but are activated upon adding it to water. These microbes and beneficial bacterial go to work immediately upon being applied to your soil to help your plant be healthy and produce lots of fruits and veggies for you to share with your loved ones.

Why is Worm Tea Beneficial for Our Gardens?

1. Rich in Beneficial Bacteria and Microbes – Like VermisTerra worm castings, their worm tea contains powerful beneficial bacteria and microbes – microscopic organisms that help create a healthy, living soil.

2. Improves Soil structure – Microbes in the worm tea have the ability to create pore spaces in the soil. Not only will this help your soil retain water for longer periods of time, but also means more oxygen and water can penetrate the soil and be taken up by your plants. When your plants are consistently watered with worm tea, they will be able to root easier, and take up the nutrients they need to be healthier and productive.

Probiotic-rich kombucha tea feeds good bacteria to our bodies, worm tea feeds good bacteria to our soil.

3. Supress Pests and Diseases – As soon as you apply the microbe-rich worm tea to your plants, the army of microbes that are so helpful to plant growth get right to work and start to multiply. These “good guys” live around the roots and surfaces of your plants, keeping them healthy. Your garden will be equipped to fight off disease, and pests aren’t as attracted to them. Many farmers who have tested VermisTerra worm tea report reversal of disease and increase in fruit production in their crops!

I like to compare this to feeding my body food rich in probiotics and beneficial bacteria – such as kefir, and my favorite, kombucha. These foods feed my body good bacteria, helping everything to function as it should. This gives me the ability to fight off a cold or flu much easier than if my immune system was compromised.

What Makes VermisTerra Worm Tea Special?

VermisTerra Worm Tea – “Liquid Gold”.

1. Extended shelf life – VermisTerra worm tea, in it’s concentrated bottled form, is shelf stable for more than a year. Contrast this to compost tea that loses it’s effectiveness if it does not get enough oxygen, and can then possibly contain harmful bacteria such as e-coli and salmonella.

2. Certified organic and lab tested – VermisTerra is certified organic by the USDA, and the California CDFA. Each batch of worm tea is lab tested (something very unusual in the industry) and free of pathogens. In fact, UC Berkley tests found over 2000 types of good bacteria in a sample of tea. VermisTerra takes great care to make sure that their worm tea is of the highest quality!

How to use Worm Tea in your Garden

VermisTerra worm tea is especially effective when used alongside their worm castings and can also be used in along with organic fertilizer and compost. It’s easy to incorporate watering with worm tea into your regular garden routine. The key is: a little goes a very long way and use it regularly. Just like our bodies need a regular supply of good nutrition to be healthy, so does our garden!

The general rule of thumb is to use 3-6 ounces of worm tea for every gallon of water, and use the same day you make it. Take care not to splash water into the bottle, as the microbes are dormant in the bottle (helping it to be shelf stable), and water will activate them.

Add worm tea to your watering can or directly to your drip irrigation system, or even to a hose end sprayer as a foliar spray. Just like worm castings, it won’t burn your plants, and you can’t use to much. Use a little, use a lot, use what your plants need and what you can afford.

Worm tea is gentle enough to use on seedlings

Seedlings

VermisTerra worm tea is the perfect liquid fertilizer to use on your young seedlings. It is gentle and won’t burn them. The young plants will take up just the nutrients they need to help them to thrive until it’s time to transplant them in your garden.

How-to: Mix one capful into a quart of water,pply once a week, more often more often if desired.

Container Plants

Container plants need consistent moisture and nutrients to thrive. Worm tea provides them the nutrients they need and help the soil retain moisture.

How-to: 3-6 ounces of worm tea per gallon of water. Apply once a week, more often if desired.

Garden Beds

Using worm tea in your garden beds will increase the survival rate of your transplants, and makes your soil healthier.

How-to: 3-6 ounces of water per gallon in your watering can, or apply to directly through your drip irrigation system. Apply every two weeks, more often if desired.

Watch the video from my YouTube channel below “How to Use Worm Tea in Your Garden”, to see a demonstration how to use it, and to enter a drawing for free VermisTerra worm tea and worm castings. Watch today – entry deadline is February 25th, 2017!

To purchase VermisTerra worm tea or castings, click on the “Partner’s Store” tab at the top of this page, use promo code “calikim” for 10% off. Receive free shipping for any orders over $55. For a limited time, they are offering a free quart of worm tea (a $26.99 value) with any purchase, so you can try it out for yourself!

Have you ever used worm tea in your garden? Comment below and let me know!

Thanks to VermisTerra for providing the worm tea I used to test in my garden, and for sponsoring this blog post. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links – I make a small commission when you order through these links and its helps me keep the garden content coming!

My eBook * My Partners Store * My Amazon Store

You can follow me, view how-to videos, photos of my garden, and lots of growing tips and tricks, on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest

The Benefits of Worm Juice

By now you’ve probably heard of ‘worm juice’ or ‘worm tea’. But in case you’ve never heard of it, worm juice is the liquid that you collect from a worm farm. Some people also call this worm tea but hardcore worm farmers use this term to refer to a potent brew they make by adding molasses to ‘worm juice’ and aerating it with an aquarium pump to increase the numbers of beneficial microbes in the liquid fertiliser that this process creates. The short story is, whether you make ‘worm juice’ or brew up a pot of ‘worm tea’, it can be used as a fertiliser for your garden, and here are some reasons why it’s actually amazing.

It’s the Best Fertiliser you can use (Natural or Otherwise), and it’s free

Worm Juice, also known as ‘liquid gold’, is a magical elixir that provides billions of good microbes such as fungi, and helpful, nitrogen-fixing bacteria to your plants and veggies. You don’t see these good microbes in synthetic liquid fertilisers, so nothing beats this recipe from mother nature. If you use your kitchen scraps to feed your worms you are returning all those extra nutrients into your soil in exactly the right balance as you are harvesting. Win, win, win!

It Makes Your Veggies Grow Huge

Every time someone uses worm juice we’re told they’ve never seen their vegetables get so big. It is the secret of those giant pumpkin competitions, adding extra inches to those 200 kg heavyweights.That’s because worm juice is a liquid supplement for plants. Similarly, by introducing a higher count of good bacteria to your plant’s soil, beneficial microbial activity is immediately kickstarted. Organic matter is broken down more rapidly, helping build good soil structure that increases vital soil aeration, moisture and nutrient absorption and storage, healthier soil and ultimately boosts your harvest of organically grown veggies!

It’s a Natural Insect Repellant

As if that wasn’t enough, worm tea also acts as a natural insect repellant. The tea contains microorganisms which produce chitanase, a digestive enzyme that breaks down the exoskeletons of insects such as arthropods. Additionally, the microbes have disease suppressant qualities too, helping to stop problems such as root rot! Simply spray the worm tea on the leaves of your plants until it is dripping onto and into the soil to give protection from various root and foliar pathogens, as well as the pesky insect pests.

It’s a Sustainable Way to Eliminate Waste

Beyond the benefits of worm tea, worm farming is a fantastic way to sustainably eliminate food waste. Not only are you creating amazing veggies and fruits, you’re also returning the leftovers back to the earth. Whether you buy worm tea or you make it yourself, it’s a beautiful, organic way to fertilise your garden, and it cuts down on the plastic used to create factory-made fertilisers. Triple win, we think.

The Worms Are Kinda Cute

This one’s subjective but some people really end up falling in love with their worms! Worms, just like people, have specific dietary preferences – but contrary to what you may read elsewhere they will eat lemon and other citrus and onion skins provided they are chopped up and mixed with your other kitchen scraps. They’re curious – you have to have tight containers and lids – and they’re amazing at their jobs, teaching you and those around you about the importance of respecting nature’s work. It is one of the very best ways to connect your kids with the good dirt on sustainable living, their food is totally free and they won’t bark at your neighbours or howl all night at the moon. We hope we’ve convinced you of the amazing power of worm juice. If you want more tips, our friend and legend Angus, from gardeningwithangus.com.au, is a great source of advice! We’re currently testing formulas in collaboration with him and circularfood.com to figure out the perfect worm juice for Vegepod users. So stay tuned and happy fertilising in the meantime!

Making Worm Tea Tutorial

Making worm tea is a simple process and anyone can do it, but it is paramount that certain steps be followed to a “tea” (pun intended).

Worm Tea Video Tutorial

See my Garden Pics from using a simple “Pump & Bucket” system.

—Side Note—
I’ve used the simple “Pump & Bucket” system for years. Please don’t let anyone tell you that you need something more than this. If you’ve seen my garden pics then be confident I know what I’m talking about.

Nature is simple, Man is NOT!

You can make it as complicated as you want, but I will tell you personally you’re not likely going to see the difference in your plants. You can always have your tea analyzed by a lab as well. You be the judge.
—Side Note—

You can also make compost tea from your compost piles outside. The process is still the same. However, the tea from worm castings is a superior brew. As discussed in the free worm farming guide and Revolution books you can understand why these microbes reign supreme.

Many people think they can cut corners or skimp on measurements because they’re in a hurry or don’t think it’s a delicate process. This is a very delicate process and it takes time and patience.

If it’s not done right you could risk the chance of ruining your entire lawn, garden, or plants by putting large quantities of harmful microbes/pathogens into your soil. Remember, this is not hard. It just takes time to following some simple instructions correctly.

Caution:
Make sure to use castings that are fully composted or “mature” castings. You don’t want anything in the system that’s still in the decaying process. This material will contain too many non beneficial microbes.

This is crucial for food crops, but not as much for ornamental flowers. However, it is still best to play it safe. You can still harm ornamental plants if not properly brewed.

Text Tutorial on
How to make compost tea or making worm tea

What you will need:

  • One 5 Gallon bucket or equivalent
  • String of any kind
  • One 20-60 Gallon, Double Outlet Aquarium Air Pump
  • Several feet of aquarium tubing
  • Two large bubble stones and two small bubble stones
  • Two aquarium tubing T-valve connectors
  • A one gallon paint strainer
  • One bottle of hydrogen peroxide
  • (Optional) Drill and 5/16 inch drill bit
  • One bottle of unsulfured molasses

Step #1
Drill two holes in the side near the top of the container 1 inch apart. This is where you will use the string to hang the bag of castings. If you don’t have a drill and a drill bit then you can just tie the bag to the handle

Step #2
Place the two large bubble stones in the container and connect an 4 inch hose to each end. Connect the T-valve to both ends of the hoses. Now attach one long hose to the last hole on the T-valve to where ever the pump will be.

Step #3
Repeat step #2. using the smaller bubble stones.

Step #4
Install the check valves that came with the pump somewhere in between the pump and container. Be careful to install them in the right direction. This is to prevent siphoning from the tank to the pump.

If you do not have any check valves them make sure you place the pump above the water to prevent the water from siphoning.

Step #5
Fill the container with water. Use rain water or pond water. Tap water has chlorine which will kill your microbes. Stay away from treated water of any kind. That also goes for bottled water too.

If tap water is your only source then you will have to run/bubble the system for 4 hours without any castings. You can also set your water out in the sun for a day. This will allow the chlorine to gas out.

Chlorine, in drinking water, is added to the water to kill any and all microorganisms. The one good thing about chlorine is that it burns out fast.

So stay away from the chlorinated water.

Hang in there. You’ll be making worm tea in no time.

Step #6
Put a couple of handfuls of castings into the paint strainer. Now put the small bubble stones in as well. Place the bag into the water and tie it off with the string to the holes you predrilled.

The bag should sit just under the water making sure that all castings are submerged.

Step #7
Turn the system on and slowly add 1/2 ounces of molasses. The molasses is the catalyst to grow your microbes. It serves as their food source. After 8 hrs. take the bag out.

By now you should have enough microbes to work with. They will begin to multiply exponentially. You may now dump the castings back into the worm bin.

Note:
If you want to make compost tea with plenty more microbes and plan on making it stretch further then use 3 ounces of molasses and leave the castings in the water.

Step #8
After 24-36 hrs. spread on your soil or plants. Dilute the tea in whichever way you like. The water is only a carrier. The 5 gallons will treat approximately 1 acre of soil. Mix the tea with 50 gallons of untreated water or use is straight.

You cannot put too much on. Remember, it’s just healthy, living microorganisms.

Spray or shower your plants. Be sure to get under the leaves as well. The bigger the drops are the longer it will soak into the plant if using as a foliar spray.

Note:
You must use the tea Immediately or it will become anaerobic. Lack of oxygen will promote the bad microbes to populate.

P.S. When making worm tea you do not have to suspend your castings or compost in a bag. You can brew them directly in the water and pour the tea on your plants even with the compost in the bucket.

You may have a little difficulty, if using a shower bucket, getting the castings or composted fertilizer to come out of the shower head.

Many, like myself, will sometimes put the worm castings back into the worm bin. They are full of highly aerobic microbes and possibly some worms and cocoons, but the worm bin or plants both will benefit.

Remember, if you plan on using a prayer that you will want to strain out the castings back through the paint strainer once or twice or they’ll get clogged in the system.

P.P.S. The hydrogen peroxide is to clean your equipment when you are finished. Unwanted microbes will grow as it’s wet and taking time to dry out.

Happy Tea Making,

~Pauly

Above, I’m brewing 64 gallons of Worm Tea. This is NO DIFFERENT than the 5 gallon simple pump-and-bucket set up. It’s just on a much larger scale.

It’s the same ingredients and brew time.

You see 2 pumps, but I’m only using the bigger one. I have not seen any difference in the garden. The only difference is, NOW, I can use more tea on more plants and go REALLY BIG! 🙂

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Return from Making Worm Tea to What is Worm Tea

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Worms have got to be the garden’s best friend. The benefits that these little wigglers share with the earth make soil so nutritious! Adding worm castings to your garden is one of the greatest ways of delivering the goods to your garden soil. Another way is making worm casting tea from these recipes.

Making worm casting tea is easy to make and is one of the most mild fertilizers you can use on your garden plants, and to water your seedlings. It is not the least expensive fertilizer you can be using, but it’s high strength enough to nourish your plants every week, and gentle enough to use on even the smallest plants, and even as a worm casting tea foliar spray. Worm casting tea is also:

  • a great replenisher of soil nutrients
  • a protector of plants against many plant diseases
  • a provider of powerful nutrients quickly to the plant
  • helpful in boosting the ability for plants to take up nutrients
  • rich in microbes and beneficial bacteria
  • found to improve soil structure
  • a health-booster of plants making them less attractive to pests

water with worm castings once your seedlings have their first set of true leaves

For seedlings, homemade earthworm tea can be used at half or full strength and will not harm neither indoor nor outdoor plants. If you are feeding seedlings, I have a free mini eBook available at the bottom of this post which covers other feeding options. For now, we’ll focus on making and using earthworm tea.

You can also make a stronger worm casting tea for your established plants, and add some extra things to the brew to provide extra nutrients for the varying stages of plant growth. It’s especially great to use when transplanting your seedlings from indoors to your outdoor garden, as it helps with avoiding the transplant shock that can happen with newly planted seedlings.

Making Worm Casting Tea

There are a few ways that you can make your worm tea, but the important thing to remember is that your tea needs to aerate. You can do this by adding a small airstone and pump to your brewing setup, or by stirring it frequently, once or twice per day.

Worm Tea Recipe #1

This recipe will be a weak brew of worm tea. I would use this one straight for my seedlings that I am raising, or as a foliar spray for my plants.

1 gallon filtered water (allow city water it to sit out for 24 hours before adding castings)
1 cup worm castings
bucket (less expensive at your local garden center)

Add worm castings to bucket of water, stir well and allow mixture to brew for 24 hours. Strain and throw your castings on your compost pile.

To feed, put all of your seedlings in a tray and add water to the tray, about 1/3 of the way full. Allow seedlings to absorb water for 15 minutes. Water another plant with any extra tea. My mini eBook “Feeding and Watering Your Seedlings So They Thrive” explains more in-depth how to use worm tea for seedlings. It’s in my resource library, and you can get the password for that at the end of this post.

To use as a foliar spray, fill a spray bottle and spray leaves, starting at the top of the plant, spraying all leaves.

Worm Tea Recipe #2

This recipe will be more concentrated than the second one, therefore I would use this tea for my plants that are already planted and established (container or bed).

3 parts filtered water (allow city water to sit out for 24 hours before adding castings)
1 part worm castings
large bucket (less expensive at your local garden center)

Same directions as in recipe #1, but as an extra growth boost, add some fertilizers that include potassium and phosphorus, like Morbloom fertilizer to promote flower and fruit growth. For tomatoes and peppers, you can throw some egg shells and epsom salt in when you add your castings, which will provide an extra nutrient boost.

If you have any spent banana peels, you can add those into the mix to provide a potassium boost, just make sure to remove them before you use it to water so it doesn’t clog up your watering can. (Or you can make this potassium fertilizer and use that.) If you’d like, you can bury it near the roots of potassium-loving plants like tomatoes and squash.

To water, add your tea to your watering can. If you aren’t straining your brew, leave the watering attachment off to avoid clogging. Water each of your plants at the base with your tea.

Watch me make and use worm tea!

Don’t want to make worm tea?

No problem! You can definitely still give your plants all the benefits of worm tea without any of the work of brewing and straining. This year, I am opting to use VermisTerra Earthworm Casting Tea instead of brewing my own. It’s one of those years that my time is less abundant, so having a ready-made worm tea to use is an awesome option for me, and for my garden.

VermisTerra Earthworm Casting Tea

Here are the features of VermisTerra‘s wonderful worm tea:

Improves Soil Structure

Microbes in the teas have the ability to create pore spaces in the soil. More oxygen is able to penetrate into the soil and help plant roots can root into the soil more easily. Well structured soil also soaks up water like sponge to retain water for longer periods.

Boost Your Plants’ Strength

With the Tea providing available nutrients and the microbes enriching the soil, plants will grow healthy and strong, and become naturally unattractive to garden pests.

Reduced Exposure To Harmful Chemicals

With VermisTerra Earthworm Casting Tea, use of other chemical fertilizers and pesticides are eliminated. This keeps you, your children and pets safe as well as being helpful to the environment.

Extended Shelf Life

Unlike the compost teas you brew at home, VermisTerra Earthworm Casting Tea does not have a limited shelf life of a few days. Since the necessary micro-organisms require oxygen to live, compost tea begins to lose it’s effectiveness right after aeration is cut off. As a result, harmful pathogens such as E. coli and Salmonella cause concern as they feed on the bacteria that die off in the compost tea. VermisTerra Earthworm Casting Tea breaks down to even smaller forms of bacteria and contains a higher concentration of nutrients than compost tea, so it can be stored for later use.

Abundant and Consistent Nutrient Usage

A high amount of nutrition are released through the workings of many micro-organisms within VermisTerra Earthworm Casting Tea in addition to the nutrition already present. The microbes break the available nutrients down to be easily picked up by plants.

To use VermisTerra worm tea is easy. Just mix a couple of capfuls of Vermisterra‘s worm tea to a gallon of water and use weekly on your plants to feed the soil and strengthen the plants in your garden.

Get My Free Mini eBook!

Get my “Feeding and Watering Seedlings So They Thrive” and never forget how to use your homemade worm tea for your seedlings. Add it to your gardening notebook!

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The Ultimate Guide To Brewing Compost Tea

Do you drink it? No!!!

Evan FoldsFollow Mar 11, 2018 · 15 min read

Like composting, compost tea is a concentration of a natural process for human benefit. The technique is part of the biological component of a BioEnergetic fertility model. If you are a gardener or farmer and you have never heard of compost tea, consider this your lucky day.

What Is Compost Tea?

Compost tea is a living solution. It is a process that involves growing soil micro-organisms, or microbes, found in healthy soil and compost by aerating water in the presence of organic microbe foods.

All of these components play key roles in creating optimal conditions for aerobic microorganisms to grow and replicate. This is the goal of what is called Actively Aerated Compost Tea (AACT).

Microbes perform the vital function of creating soil, this does not just happen. Tending a compost pile concentrates this natural process, and compost tea concentrates the process even further. Performing the process of brewing compost tea is simple and a very effective way to increase the diversity and biomass of beneficial aerobic microbes in the soil and on the leaf surface of crops.

Think of soil microbes like construction workers. Your job as the contractor is to consistently bring them to the job site so that they may build the neighborhood. Once the neighborhood is built it takes on a life of its own and the soil will be working for you, mitigating pests and disease, and reducing the need to irrigate and fertilize to support growth.

What is the Soil Food Web?

Soil microbes are comprised of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and nematodes. Together with the macro-organisms like earthworms, rolly polly’s, spiders, etc. they make up what is called the “soil food web”.

The soil food web, like any food web, works through what are called “trophic levels”, or life levels. In other words, the big fish eats the small fish.

Another good analogy to understand how important soil microbes is to consider the soil food web like you would all of the fish and organisms in the ocean. Think of bacteria as the plankton, and the larger nematodes as the sharks. Apex predators like sharks only appear in mature ecosystems, and the average landscape or garden does not have mature soil, and therefore does not have the higher organisms present. This is the source of common landscape and garden pest and disease issues — there is simply nothing there to eat what is eating your plant.

What would happen if you took all of the plankton out? Life as we know it would end. This lack of life is the state of the average conventional landscape, garden, and farm, and compost tea is a simple way of bringing back life so it can seek its own balance in the soil.

Much of the reason we take microbes for granted is we cannot see them. Some stats:

Microbes are small. Up to 500,000 bacteria can fit in the period of the exclamation point at the end of this sentence! There’s another universe down under your feet!

Microbes are magical. Humans cannot accomplish the vital processes undertaken to create health soil. The soil food web not only creates perfect plant food, but they help plants eat it and protect them from stress, pests, and disease. Plus they work as Nature’s recycler to mitigate contaminants and environmental toxins.

Microbes are abundant. A teaspoon of native grassland soil contains 600–800 million bacteria comprising ~10,000 species, plus approximately 5,000 species of fungi, the mycelia of which could be stretched out for several miles. In the same teaspoon, there may be 10,000 individual protozoa of over 1,000 species, plus 20–30 different nematodes from as many as 100 different species.

Microbes are extraordinarily prolific. According to the book Secrets of the Soil, a single microbe reaching maturity and dividing within less than half an hour, can, in the course of a single day, grow into 300 million more, and in another day to more than the number of human beings than have ever lived. In four days of unlimited growth, bacteria can outnumber all of the protons and even the quarks estimated by physicists to exist within the entire universe.

Why Brew Compost Tea?

  • Increased Nutrient Cycling: Microbes make perfect plant food, that is how soil works. Think of microbes like tiny fertilizer factories! Nutrient cycling is what helps make the nutrients and minerals in the soil into a form that is available for plants to uptake. When you apply organic fertilizer, you’re not directly feeding the plant but rather the microbes in the soil that will work to convert the nutrients into an ionic form available to plants.
  • Healthy Soil Structure: Typically, humans move the Earth to create good soil structure, but microbes will do this for you over time. Fungal hyphae helps in creating soil aggregates, and bacteria and archaea assist in breaking down organic matter and aerating the soil.
  • Use Less Water: Growing with microbes increases the soils ability to retain water through correcting soil structure, increasing organic matter and exchange capacity, and through the presence of the living organisms themselves. Compost tea can reduce water usage 20–40% and in many cases eliminates the need for irrigation in landscapes entirely.
  • Use Less Compost: Rather than haul organic matter over large (or small) areas, now you can spray it! Plus, because you have grown the population of microbes through the brewing process, it is much more cost effective and efficient.
  • Use Less Fertilizer: Fertilizer is a crutch, it is a compensation for the soils inability to provide fertility for plants. Think about it, you don’t have to fertilize a forest and it grows trees! Growing the microbial soil food web can help you ween yourself of the requirement for fertilizer to grow a garden over time.
  • Higher Yields: Improving the fertility and maturity of the soil automatically enhances the garden or farms ability to grow larger and more abundant crops.
  • Treat Disease: Disease organisms are merely microbes that are eating your plant who have nothing to eat them. Many commercial biological biocides are derived of microbes found in compost tea and in healthy soil. Rather than trying to kill the disease, you can eliminate it with microbial balance.
  • Mitigate Pests: Many soil microbes seek protein, and the exoskeleton of pests is protein, so consistent applications have shown compost tea to have pesticidal properties. But the most effective pest control is healthy biologically diverse soil and a healthy plant.
  • Reduce Weeds: Weeds are indicators of mineral and biological imbalance in the soil. For example, clover grows to regenerate nitrogen in the soil. Almost 80% of the air we breathe is nitrogen, so you get it for FREE from nitrogen-fixing bacteria that thrive in healthy soil. It should be noted that this is best experienced in lawns as any soil left uncultivated or without perennial plants like turf will experience weeds.
  • Untold Benefits: We know very little about the diversity of microbes in the soil food web. Brewing compost tea will help establish good populations of nitrogen-fixing bacteria, nitrogen and phosphorus-solubilizing bacteria, and all sorts of other beneficial microorganisms, many of which have yet to be identified and fully understood in their role in soil health.

Other Types of “Tea”

The compost tea conversation can become complicated due to the different methods available for leveraging microbes to benefit the garden or farm. Here is some discussion around the compost tea landscape.

Actively Aerated Compost Tea (AACT): This is the primary focus of our attention here, and has been described above in some detail. The result of brewing is very high populations of aerobic soil microbes found in healthy soil.

Compost Extract: Compost extract is where the microorganisms are stripped from the soil aggregates using water and extracted into a liquid form. This process will contain good biology for soil drenches, and can be made very quickly, as it does not require a brewing process. It does however require a large amount of compost relative to the final liquid product, and is primarily used in large commercial productions. Extracts are often advertised as “instant compost tea”, so appear advantageous relative to AACT, but typically contain a fraction of the activated microbes found in AACT.

Compost Leachate: These teas are what you will find seeping out of a worm farm or compost pile during the composting process. Leachates will consist primarily of soluble nutrients, but will also contain some small amount of biology. By all means use this liquid in your garden application, but it is not sufficient to rely on as a means of establishing a healthy soil food web.

Plant Teas: This is where plants such as nettle or comfrey are soaked directly in water for an extended period of time. This is an anaerobic process, so does not really aid in growing the soil food web, however, anaerobic microbes are very good at extraction nutrition from the plant material and it can be a good tool in the garden.

Manure Tea: Manure tea may be the most popularized method of making “teas” simply because of how many old timers have performed the process. It amounts to no more than liquefying the manure for ease of application. The microbes that make manure in the gut are anaerobic, so this process will not aid in the development of a healthy soil food web.

How To Brew AACT

There are many ways to brew compost tea, and many commercial brewing systems on the market, but the process can be accomplished in just about any container.

Think about the process like you would creating an aquarium for fish. Rather than aerating water for fish to breathe, we are aerating the water for aerobic microbes to breathe.

Brewing Equipment

The brewer is the hardware of the compost tea brewing application. It is important because you could be using the best microbial compost and food sources available, but if your brewer doesn’t maintain adequate dissolved oxygen (DO) levels or thoroughly mix the liquid, then the quality of your tea will suffer.

There are many different brewer designs on the market. For hobby gardening it is best to DIY and brew in a 5 gallon bucket (or larger suitable container), as the cost you will pay for a molded or small commercial unit will not be worth the price.

DO is accomplished by infusing air into the solution from an air pump. An air pump does what it says, it pumps air. As opposed to a water pump that pumps water. This is typically accomplished through air tubing, which should match the diameter of the air pump and airstone you are using.

As a general rule, you want .05-.08 cfm per gallon of water when selecting an air pump. It is better to err on the side of more air than less, aeration cannot be overdone.

Using airstones are commonplace on smaller brewing units. An airstone simply breaks up the large bubbles coming out of the air tubing from the air pump creating more surface area for the air and dissolving more oxygen.

Assuming you have enough aeration occurring, methods involving airstones do a decent job mixing the solution adequately in the container. But using the air lift method when brewing compost ta is a superior way to achieve increased mixation, DO, and oxygen retention in solution.

Air lifts involve using air to displace water up to the top of the container so that a drain can replace it and allow for circulation of the compost tea solution. The best brewers that accomplish this create a vortex spiral that constantly exposes the skin of solution to the air and sucks it in, like a roiling river. This method does not require airstones, as the air is simply used to move the solution around.

Brewing Ingredients

Compost (humus): Even the best compost tea brewer won’t make a good tea if you don’t start with good compost. This is where your beneficial microorganisms come from, so it’s a vital part of the process.

Without a microscope and some experience, it is not easy to determine the quality of compost visibly. In general, avoid municipal or commercial compost because they are typically not made for quality, often have uncomposted animal manures, and tend to be made to recycle industrial waste.

Because worms perform much of the composting process in their gut, worm castings (or worm manure) are much safer sources of humus for brewing compost tea. However, worm castings do not have a complete soil food web in their gut, so it is a good idea to seek out as many healthy sources as possible when getting started brewing. You can add these sources to your own compost situation and make your own brewing inoculant over time.

If you find yourself needing to purchase commercial compost to get started brewing. Ask the source if they have done biological testing on their compost. Ask them about their ingredients, and how long the compost was allowed to process before being sold. If the compost is still hot to the touch at the point of sale this is an indication that it is not finished the composting process. And if the material is dried out this can harm the microbes, you want the moisture level to be generally what it would be for plant growth, like a wrung out sponge.

One good way to test the biology in a compost source is to add a food source and give it some time to see what happens. You should see a bit of white fuzz develop on the top of the compost or if added in higher amounts it may actually cause the compost to heat up. This is caused by the bacteria and other microorganisms reproducing rapidly to use up that food source, which produces heat.

Microbe Catalysts: Many in the compost tea brewing realm do not focus on catalysts in the brewing process, but they are very important. These are materials such as sea minerals, rock dusts, or other diversified mineral sources that do not represent food for growing microbes, but that are used by them to create the enzymes that allow them to operate. Microbes do not chew on the banana peel in the compost pile, they manufacture enzymes out of specific mineral elements that work to chemically break the organic matter down. The enzyme potential for microbes is so large that we will probably never discover all of them. Not allowing a diversity of elements for enzyme production is like hiring microbes to build a house and giving them half of the tools.

Microbe Food: One of the main benefits of organic food sources is that they feed the soil, not just the plant. Artificial fertilizers focus on growing the plant at the expense of the soil. The main food sources used in compost tea brewing are soluble to aid in ease of distribution, these include: molasses, fish hydrolosate, seaweed kelp, and humic acids.

The following directions are for brewing compost tea in a 5 gallon bucket, but they can be applied to a compost tea brewer of any style or volume:

Materials: (1) 5 Gallon Bucket, (4–5’) 3/16” Air Tubing, (1) Small Air Pump, (1) 4” Airstone, Recipe Ingredients

1. Fill the 5 Gallon bucket with clean water.

2. Attach one end of the clear tubing to the small nipple on the Air Pump and attach the other end to your air pump. Plug the air pump into an electrical outlet and submerge the air diffuser in the bucket. DO NOT SUBMERGE THE PUMP! Note: You should see bubbles coming from the air diffuser, like in an aquarium.

3. Mix in the ingredients to your favorite recipe and brew for at least 12 hours and no longer than 48 hours. A brewing time of 24 hours is most typical.

Simple!!

Water Quality

Water is an important consideration when brewing compost tea. The most ideal source of water for brewing is rain water, or a natural source such as a spring or stream.

Well water can be good, but it is a crap shoot, unless you have had it tested there is no way to tell the level of potential contamination.

The one good thing about municipal water is that it is consistently bad. Meaning, you are not going to get extreme levels of contamination, and if your water supply has had chlorine added to it you can aerate it out by running your aeration for at least an hour before brewing. If your water system adds chloramines you will need to seek a source of filtration such as a carbon filter or reverse osmosis to remove for ideal conditions.

Having said all of this, the level of microbial action you are going to be encouraging in the brewing process far outpaces the killing action of the amount of chlorine in the city water. Worst case scenario, you are not helping the microbes, but you are not killing all of them either.

Temperature

The higher the temperatures the faster the rate of biological growth. The lower temperatures are, the more DO you can accomplish in the water, but the biological growth slows. The sweet spot for brewing is between 55F-85F, with ideal conditions between 65F-75F.

The best course of action is to brew the compost tea in the temperatures that it will be used in. It doesn’t really make sense to brew microbes in 80F temperatures and then use them in 50F conditions.

How To Use Compost Tea

Compost tea is not a defined substance. Sort of like a compost pile — every recipe is different. So take these suggestions accordingly. As long as you are not using high NPK materials such as bat guano or a lot of fish hydrolysate, you should have no problem burning plants and it will be hard to overuse. As with any application, consider trying your recipe on a smaller area first to monitor results.

General Use: A gallon of compost tea concentrate can be applied on 250–500 square feet as a soil conditioner and plant tonic, regardless of the dilution. Use at least 20 gallons per acre on larger applications when starting, which can be stepped back to at least 5 gallons per acre over time.

Keep in mind, the more you use, the faster and greater the result will be.

Try not to dilute compost tea concentrate more than 1:16 (or 1 cup per gallon) for all applications.

One of the main reasons compost tea is so important is that microbes are not mobile, they do not jump over the fence 😉 For this reason it is very important to apply compost tea to the entire soil area. You may apply fertilizer products as a top dress to the plant, but make sure to “paint the soil” with compost tea. Microbes move as little as a micrometer in their lifetime!

Use compost tea weekly for maximum results, or at least monthly.

Poor soils, or soils that have been treated chemically (artificial fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, etc.) should be treated more intensively to start than land not treated synthetically.

Try to apply outside of direct sun, ultraviolet rays from the sun can have detrimental effects on microbes when on the leaf surface.

Here are some further ideas for using compost tea in different applications:

  • Compost Pile Inoculant: Dilute 1 gallon of concentrate into enough water to saturate the pile completely, repeat monthly.
  • Foliar Feeding: Mix 1 gallon concentrate to 4 gallons of water and apply weekly.
  • Seed Soak: Soak seeds in compost tea concentrate for at least 1 hour, but no longer than 12 hours. For smaller seeds a paper towel moistened with compost tea concentrate can be used.
  • Plant Cuttings: Dip cuttings into full strength compost tea.
  • Diseased Plants: Spray plant with undiluted compost tea until healed.
  • Tree Root Soak: Mix 1 gallon of concentrate to 2 gallons of water and apply weekly.
  • Transplanting: Mix 1 gallon concentrate to 2 gallons of water and spray planting hole. Water the rest into the soil after planting. Dip roots directly into solution if possible.
  • Houseplants: Mix 1 gallon concentrate to 8 gallons of water and apply monthly.
  • Raised Beds: Mix 1 gallon concentrate to 8 gallons of water and apply weekly. For overwintering, apply full strength concentration to recycle dead roots into fertilizer for next season.

YieldBuilder™ Concentrate

Organic Worm Castings Tea, NOP Compliant, Soil Amendment

YieldBuilder™ is a liquid soil amendment that establishes healthier roots and increases water-holding capacity of the soil. Our concentrated worm casting tea has an extended shelf life. Features all the benefits of DBS worm castings. YieldBuilder replaces harmful chemicals, is environmentally friendly, and is NOP compliant for use in organic growing operations. Cost-effective application for irrigation systems and can be used for soil soak, foliar spray, root-drench, and hydroponic applications.

1 Gallon YieldBuilder™ Concentrate

PRICE: $49.95/Gallon
Estimated delivery time 4-7 Days depending on your location.

Call 218-568-6500 for international orders and shipping quotes.

YieldBuilder™ Mixing Instructions & Dilution Rates

Step #1 Calculate: Calculate how much YieldBuilder Concentrate you will need. The most common final dilution ratio is 1:3. Which means your final volume of fertilizer, will be 1/8 part YieldBuilder concentrate.

Example: Grandma uses 1 gallon of water for her plants every day. Pouring directly on the soil daily, she will need a 1:3 final dilution. Grandma needs 16 oz of YieldBuilder concentrate, or 1/8 of a gallon.

Step #2 Activate: Mix our YieldBuilder solution 1:1 with well, or other pure (non-fluoridated or chlorinated) water, then add 1/4 tsp of activator granules for every 10 ounces of concentrate. Please give the activator 10 minutes before final dilution, and then add to your soil, spray or hydro system.

Example: Grandma will add 16 oz (1/8 gal.) YieldBuilder concentrate to 16 oz (1/8 gal.) well, spring, distilled or reverse osmosis water. Then she will add approx 1/3 teaspoon organic cane sugar to that 32 ounces of concentrate. After waiting at least 10 minutes, Grandma now has 32 ounces of activated YieldBuilder Concentrate.

Step #3 Dilute: Mix to final dilution using chart.

Method of Application Application Frequency
Monthly Weekly Daily Continuous
(hydroponics & drip irrigation)
Soil Soak 1:1 1:2 1:3 1:50
Foliar Spray 1:2 1:3 1:5
Root Drench 1:50

Example: Grandma will fill the rest of her watering jug with well water, or other pure water, adding 3/4 gallon to her 1/4 gallon activated YieldBuilder concentrate. Giving her one gallon of YieldBuilder fertilizer mixed at a 1:3 final dilution.

Step #4 Apply: Apply final solution to plants and/or soil like normal watering cycle. If outdoors try to apply after 4pm, allowing the fertilizer to soak in, and reproduce, before being exposed to a full day of harmful UV rays.

Example: Grandma watered her outdoor flowers in the late afternoon. She poured the YieldBuilder fertilizer right at the base of her flowers like normal watering.

*Please see YieldBuilder Bulk for large scale agriculture dilutions, and broadcast application rates

More About YieldBuilder™ Worm Tea

Produced using the finest ingredients – Denali Worm Castings

  • 85% Casting purity
  • 5x the Active Bacteria over the high normal
  • 3x the Amoeba and Protoza over the high normal
  • 1.5 Billion Active Bacteria/cf
  • Over 7 Billion CFU (Colony Forming Units)
  • Highest quality castings of the 4 major suppliers
  • Denali Worm Castings utilizes a proprietary blend of feed along with the best worms in a highly efficient controlled commercial operation to produce its superior product

Every Batch of YieldBuilder is tested to assure quality & consistency

  • Each bottle is guaranteed for 12 months shelf life if stored out of sunlight, within 40-80 degrees F
  • 1-gallon bottle of concentrate produces 50 gallons of ready-to-use diluted worm tea
  • 6 1-gallon bottles per carton, 27 cartons per pallet (162 gallons), 30 pallets/truckload (4,860 gallons)

What is Worm Tea?

I started this post trying to describe ‘Worm Tea’, and before too long ran into all kinds of ways to name it and make it.

So let us start with this general rule – that ‘tea’ is all the goodness of the worm farm in water, and then putting that directly into the soil or onto the plants.

Worm Team can be made in a dozen different ways with a variety of ingredients and range of preparation. Some people drop vermicast into a bucket of water, stir it once a day for a week and use that. Some use compost in water and still call it worm tea.

Yet again, others swap or interchange the term ‘worm tea’ with ‘worm wee’, ‘worm pee’, ‘compost tea’, ‘worm juice’, and also ‘worm lechate’. Any combination of – worm, wee, and tee!

If you need more background info, follow this link for one of the better articles on what worm tea is all about, and is in-line with my thinking.

For this article, I am going to describe how I prepare and use ‘worm tea’ – so let’s get to it.

Equipment to Make Worm Tea

Containers – I’ve been using these 25 litre food grade plastic containers for a while now, and they do the job just fine. Plenty of small business owners buy these full of detergents or food stuffs, and have nothing to do with them afterwards except give them to grateful people like myself!

They might not always be empty so keep an eye out for any dangerous chemicals, and do soak and wash them with water. One took me a week to flush out the detergent from and you might have the same experience.

Rainwater – Is what I recommend for the job but if you need to use chlorinated tap water, let it sit for 24 hours in an open container before using. That is about as long as it takes for the chlorine to evaporate, and unless its all gone those bacteria wont have a chance.

Gloves and a sock / stocking – You need the gloves to keep vermicast out of your fingernails (unless you are into that dirty hands sort of thing), and the sock / stocking to fill with vermicast.

Vermicast – Yes it is 100% worm poo, distilled through the bodies of the finest earthworms available.

Try to get the castings closest to the top, because that will have the highest concentration of beneficial aerobic bacteria.

Molasses – Use unsulphured Molasses, which might mean a trip to the local health food store. A larger grocer may stock this type. You need molasses because this is going to feed all those billions of beneficial bacterial.

Without a food source you will end up with few bacteria and poor quality worm tea. And you need to avoid sulphur because that is an anti bacterial fungicide, and will kill off the bacteria before they can be applied to the plants.

Air Pump – Use this pump to add oxygen to the water, which bacteria require to survive (because what we want here is the air loving, aerobic bacteria).

I’d recommend you get an air stone or two, because that is exactly what they are made for – forcing thousands of tiny air bubbles through the water.

Steps for Preparation of Worm Tea

  1. Fill the socks / stockings with the vermicast. My own preference is to use stockings because it allows for better air flow, but a sock will do if there is nothing else. Don’t be fussed if there are still worms crawling around in the mixture, as they can survive in highly oxygenated environments, even underwater for a couple of days (see video below)
  2. Add the rainwater into the container, then suspend the stocking in the middle of it.
  3. Add the air pump tubes – turn on the pump. Check to see they are secure at the bottom of the water and not just sitting at the top.
  4. Pour in the molasses over the suspended stocking – about 2-3 tablespoons per 20 litres. Some brands are as difficult to pour as thick honey, so mix in warm water beforehand if needed.
  5. Run the pump from 24 to 48 hours, adding 2 tablespoons of molasses every 12 hours.

The worms will do just fine underwater for a day, as you can see in this video, after 24 odd hours they didn’t seem to be aware of the problem!

OK so it has been brewing for a while – you now have 8 hours to use it all from the time the air pump gets turned off (aerobic bacteria will start dying off when the bubbles stop).

Pull out the tubes and wipe the gunk off the air stones – It is a good sign if there is a slimy coating on everything. To clean, dunk the tubes and stones into a separate bucket full of tap water (and this is a case where chlorinated water will help), and turn the pump back on.

Remove the sock carefully to avoid wasting the precious liquid. Turn the sock inside out and remove the contents (now a muddy slush), around something that deserves a supercharged serve of goodness.

And into the bucket goes the worm team…

The video below shows what it should look like as you pour it out.

When and How to Apply Worm Tea in the Garden

Now it is just a case of getting that worm tea into your plants!!

  • In either early morning or late afternoon, take the bucket full of worm tea to a plant
  • Pour some of the contents from the leaves down, until it is all soaking the soil
  • Move to the next plant and repeat 🙂
  • If you want the control (and waste minimisation), of a hand held spray bottle, filter out any gunk with mesh or a strainer. A blocked spray bottle will just plain ruin your day.
  • You can make the tea last longer by mixing 50/50 with rainwater, but I never do. Why dilute it when you can just make more?

As you can see in the photo below, this little tap is perfect for running out the liquid without having to worry about blockages. This means I can brew the tea in the same container I pour from. Could not be easier.

And if you still thirst for more about this tea, sip from the document below:

Ok so that about covers it for worm tea, for now. I’ve developed a couple of different brews even since starting this post, and learning more about this potent liquid fertilizer each and every time.

Give it a try, and let me know what you see as a result!
+Shane Genziuk

  • Using Worm Castings & Worm Tea (urbanfig.wordpress.com)
  • Eisenia fetida, or the Little Worm that Could (Getting Started) (spacefarms.wordpress.com)
  • Worm Farming-Vermicomposting (giantveggiegardener.com)

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The Best Worm Tea Recipe You’ll Find

In a Nutshell: Easy – Simple – Effective

Worm castings tea doesn’t exactly sound like such an overwhelmingly tasty recipe, but plants sure love it. It’s easy to make, easy to use, and provides a fast-acting tonic for plant growth. The nutrients in the tea are easily absorbed by plant roots or leaves and results can be seen in as little as 2-3 days. Some customers report that the tea also doubles as a natural pest repellent. The ingredient list is simple. Keep reading below, and you’ll learn how to make worm tea in no time. Remember, organic fertilizer equals BETTER plant nutrition.

Buy natural worm castings online today!

A customer of ours from Illinois sent in this worm tea recipe which he swears is the best. In fact, the worm tea recipe below yielded plums the size of apples.

There are only 3 ingredients required:

  • 3 lbs castings
  • 5 gallons water
  • 1/3 cup molasses

3 of his tips for the best brew:

  • Keep it in a painting mesh or paint screen to not clog up the spray nozzle in case they don’t completely liquefy (TIP: a painting mesh is easier to use than a nylon mesh).
  • Place a fish tank aerator inside to allow oxygen into the microbes.
  • Let it sit (at least) overnight – 24 hours preferably, but 48 hours if the water is below 70 degrees.
If you have your own recipes you’d like to send in, contact our worm tea brewers today and pass along any tips!

How to Make Traditional Worm Castings Tea

This next one is the traditional brewing method for worm castings tea. It will produce 1 gallon of worm castings tea, which can then be diluted to make 2 gallons with no significant loss of potency. WARNING: we strongly advise you do not leave worm tea in the sun and/or heat, since this could create harmful microbes.

Ingredients Needed:

  • 2-3 cups of worm castings
  • 2 tablespoons of unsulphured molasses
  • A bucket large enough to hold one gallon of water

Process:

  1. Fill your bucket with water. If you’re using tap water, you’ll need to let the water sit overnight so the chlorine can evaporate. (No point in having all those good micro-organisms in your worm castings killed off by chlorine!) If you don’t have the patience to wait 24 hours, use distilled water or rain water.
  2. OPTIONAL: Add 2 tablespoons of unsulphured molasses to the bucket and stir to dissolve. This will be food for the micro-organisms in your worm castings.
  3. Make a worm castings “teabag” out of pantyhose or other sheer material by filling it with 2/3 cup of worm castings and knotting it closed.
  4. Suspend the worm castings tea bag in the bucket of water and let soak for several hours (or overnight).
  5. Tea is served!* You can sprinkle the tea on your plants with a watering can or go high-tech with a sprayer. Best time of day to apply is morning or evening, when the sun isn’t beating down on the plants you’re fertilizing (avoid the sun and heat – they’re bad for worm castings). The leftover castings in the tea bag can be scraped off onto the soil.
  6. Rinse out your “tea bag” and let it dry. You can use it for the next batch you brew!

Worm castings tea fertilizer can be used indoors or outdoors. In addition to pouring it on the ground around the plant you can also spray it directly on leaves with a sprayer.

Many indoor gardeners fill up a sprayer bottle and mist their houseplants with the tea. However you apply it, worm castings tea can have a near-miraculous effect on plants – especially ones that are struggling.

Making Worm Castings Tea: An Easy Recipe to Try

To make up a quick brew of worm castings tea, measure two teaspoons of worm castings from Dirt Dynasty into a quart of water. If you are using tap water, the water should sit out for 24 hours to let the chlorine evaporate. Otherwise, the chlorine in tap water will kill the beneficial micro-organisms in the worm castings.

If you are in a hurry, you can use distilled water or rain water you have already collected outside.

Add the worm castings to the water and stir, then let it sit somewhere for a day.

If you are planning to use the tea in a sprayer or mister, you will need to strain it through a fine mesh first. (Save what you strain out and put it in your flowerpots!) Otherwise, just pour the tea onto the soil around your plants. If you don’t want to deal with straining your tea, you can put the worm castings in an old pair of nylons (or other similarly sheer material), tie the end, and steep them tea bag-style in the water.

Diluting worm castings tea is a great way to extend your batch of tea without losing much of its potency. You can experiment with different amounts of dilution – adding the same amount of water you started with or just half that amount. This “lite” version of worm castings tea is terrific if you are working with bare-root transplants. Just set them in the tea for a while and they’ll be better able to withstand the shock of being replanted.

RELATED: Aerated Worm Tea Is the Super Fertilizer

Vermicast Tea Makes Grass Truly Greener

Worm castings tea gives you the lush, green lawn you have always wanted without the harmful chemicals.

You will need to brew at least a few gallons, and you will need a sprayer to get the tea onto your lawn. We recommend applying the tea early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid having the tea evaporate. You should also use up your tea within 24 hours.

As nature’s perfect NPK fertilizer, the nitrogen in worm castings is just what struggling lawns need. You should see your lawn respond in just a few days with a noticeable greening. Regular applications every two months will encourage stronger roots and lusher growth.

Hope you don’t mind mowing the grass more often!

Buy organic vermicompost fertilizer and start making your own worm castings tea.

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