Aug 13, 2018

Compost Tea


Over the weekend I made my first batch of compost tea with worm castings. compost triple mix with kelp. molasses as usual. My question is whats the shelf life of it? I made 5 gallons which I realize now is way too much for my small plants and low numbers. Will it be ok just sitting in my cooler basement?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Aug 13, 2018

Compost tea has a shelve live of about 6 hours but that can be extended if you keep the tea aerated. The problem is in time the microbes will adapt to its environment and become less divers.

How often can a tea being applied? What determines the frequency and amount of application.?

Aug 13, 2018

I haven't used compost teas yet but I am just about prepared to start . I'll practice all winter  :D.

Aug 14, 2018

@Local Fixx, you can apply tea as much as you want man. Depends on your tea though. Compost tea can be applied every watering if you want. Most people do water feed, or water water feed. But you can do feed as often as you'd like with compost teas typically. Really, it just comes down to economics. How much energy/time/resources do you wanna put into it... I honestly went ham at first and would do top dressings all the time (which make for teas in soil) but I've gotten lazy and give plants a feed water feed water schedule, which is more than fine for replenishing soil. Some amendments are recommended to be applied less though, but if you just give your plants little by little with more potent stuff you could apply them more often like on a feed-water-feed schedule.

Aug 18, 2018

I do my tea every two weeks and water in between. Great results so far and like you just started doing it. The amendments I use are compost, EWC, molasses, kelp meal, alfalfa meal, and azomite. I don;'t always combine the compost & EWC each time. Some folks put some of the amendments in a sock and soak in the tea. I elected not to do that. 

I may not always post a thank you, but am always thankful for responses. Great info!! There's so much "stuff" and myth floating around online. It's refreshing to see what's actually working for people.

Aug 18, 2018

So compost tea stays good for only six hours ?

Aug 18, 2018

@Local Fixx You should check out my like mock-lab report post on plants working with acidic soil and creating a balanced pH!! It's as real as it gets lol... And it challenges some lines of thought on pH with organics( @Be kind to it ).

@zmutt00 interesting mix. Why are you putting in Azomite that often? I mean, I'd imagine it's good for potassium and some other nutes which wash out of soil really easily... But for the most part its used for trace minerals that stay in the soil so I'd say that's an amendment you should add rarely. I hear expert gardeners apply it every 5-10 years, not even yearly nor seasonally! I'd honestly think your kelp meal would cover any necessary constituents your azomite is giving your plants, mainly that potassium... And then some! But I mean if it works than it works you know, just saying what I have heard. I've used azomite to cure a calcium deficiency in plants before (exhibited as tip burn), stuff is great. I just would never use it that often because it is so rich in trace minerals. I wonder if it can cause trace mineral nutrient toxicities even? I donno though. Seems excessive regardless. Also with the cane molasses, that product gives plants a lot of nitrites, which they don't really like, and if you plan to eat the flowers/foliage, your digestive system probably won't like it either. I mean spinach for instance can accumulate a ton of the stuff and does at conventional farms and messes people up on the regular lol. So I just assume the same thing applies to marijuana. I hear expert growers saying they only use it during the last 2 weeks of flower, something I am planning to do at the end of my current grow! It supposedly keeps on up to 600 genes in the plant by keeping the microbes awake at the end of fruit/flower when plants start hoarding all of their sugars and stop doing feeding the microbes.

@vedmondson12 it stays good as long as it is oxygenated. You can even refrigerate compost tea for up to a week after brewing it (at least with EWC tea I know). Chef B says it loses diversity as it ages though which can be a downside... I only make my compost teas on the spot... As in I add powdered soluble biostimulants to my water and top dress the plants' soils with mixes of compost, amendments, and EWC. I really, really dislike making teas ahead of time and think compost teas are kind of a waste of time unless your soil is a biological desert, which happens at times (under-watering, leaving soil without plants etc), or they're useful when you can't top dress plants to feed plants+soil life, such as with squash plants which are really spiny which makes it difficult to put compost at the base after they bush out. I mean I just do it anyway w/ my squash plants because I dislike preparing compost teas so much but it's up to you. Both ways can meet the needs of the plant.

Aug 18, 2018

@johnnycakes So I took this recipe from a couple of experienced growers who work at the local hydro store and as I think I mentioned this was my first experience not only with ACT but with no till ( which the guys at the local hydro store turned me on to. ) I just cut down my first plant today and before I plant again I'm going to have the soil tested ( their recommendation as well ) because I either have a deficiency or an excess of something, but it wasn't too serious going by how well the plant turned out. Slight browning of the leaf tips of the main cola. Could be the azomite, we'll see. Boy I see an awful lot of growers using molasses but I'll talk to guys at the hydro store and get their take.  BTW, I use one tablespoon of the azomite, molasses, kelp, and alfalfa per gallon of water. It might make sense to mix it up and eliminate a couple of the amendments with each tea and not brew such a heavy concentrate each time. Very good input ! Thank you. 

Aug 19, 2018Edited: Aug 19, 2018


@zmutt00 those guys at your local hydroponics store sound like they know what they are doing. I'd take a radical guess about the slight tip burn and say you have a calcium deficiency, due to a cation imbalance from over fertilizing w/ K and/or Mg. Do you have any bunched growth tips, odd bronzing in center/beginning of new leaves, or elongated stems? Those symptoms would help. I've given a lot different plants kelp at my garden man and it like really boosts their growth despite being relatively low in N, and it's supposed to have even more K than N. I'd guess you have too much K and/or Mg for your Ca possibly. Slight toxicity leading to slight deficiency. Could just be too hot though in general, especially if you are using that mix at the end of flowering. When flowering you might wanna switch to just the kelp and something else for phosphorus, and to lower N and accordingly adjust K and P higher. I've had success w/ guano, high in P, and soluble K (organic potash from NPK Industries) or Kelp for K. I would apply those amendments probably every 3 weeks if the plants don't show any signs of deficiency. But I mean w/ your compost and EWC, those are great to add practically every time (or just every time*) because it's good to drain out excess salts but then you gotta leave some salts left in the medium for the plants and microbes, and the EWC and/or compost add some biostimulants and buffer pH too which prevents stressful pH swings. EWC and compost can vary a lot so it's up to what your plants need to determine how much/how often to apply them. It's key to balance those two acts, draining out excess salts but leaving in a good balance after for continuous growth/flourishing. Glad she turned out well though man, sounds like your plants were flourishing savagely with those potent brews. Please let us know what you find out about your soil, I at least am interested in what all that azomite did lol Here's a link from NPK Industries and some info on calcium and magnesium as macro elements. I took a class with their lead scientist Harley Smith and they have good info.

Aug 25, 2018

@johnnycakes I ordered the soil test kit off Amazon and expect to receive it in a week or so. Then I have to take a spoil sample and send it to them. My understanding is once I send the sample back it will be about 10 days when I hear back. Once I do I'll check back in. Today I also bought a bag of whole barley that I'll grind myself and use as a dressing and a tea. Came highly recommended and the reading I've done it seems to echo those sentiments. Do you have experience with malted barley ?

Aug 26, 2018

Suhweeet. Thanks for the update, and definitely check back in! Malted barley? No, only the form you mentioned before, whole barley grains. I have grown mushrooms on barley grain many a time, so I understand it well in terms of contamination vectors and nutrition but not really other than that, like for plants or beer. I can't imagine it wouldn't do well for the plants. The stuff has to have decently particular handling for use as a fungal substrate in order to prevent contamination due to high N content and some problematic microbial inhabitants (endospores), but I doubt any of it applies when using it with plants. You're definitely going to have all kinds of microbes growing on it. Thing is, I have had barley contamination in mushroom grows... The stuff can smell like burnt bacon and like smell-stain containers forever. I assume the same would happen to plants potentially. My worry would be smell contamination if you are growing indoors. I'd suggest sticking with fully (or well enough) decomposed materials or non-aromatic type amendments if you are indoors, otherwise go for it if you are outdoors. You might need to cover it you know? Just know it might end up stinking, and I really donno if that will affect buds' smells, if you use it during flower anyway. I still use a box that had contaminated barley in it in colonizing bags, and I think it will forever smell like burnt bacon... During my current grow I added some bad compost (still decaying and smelling rotten for some reason) thinking the smell would go away and it reeked up the room instantly and for the entire day. I had to mute the smell with some worm castings, but I was able to mute it. Still, anything that will decompose can potentially be smelly, so, make sure you cover it at least w/ well decomposed material, at least for your flowers. Can't imagine it'd be smelly if you used it in a tea, the soil life should eat it up! I can't seem to find the exact C to N content in any of my books... But it is pretty rich in N alone. I donno what your plan is with the top dressing, but I'd suggest covering it to mute the smell at least and also to add in some more carbon to balance the soil life, like from EWC (spent from tea would be perfect) or organic compost.

Oct 14, 2018

Hey @zmutt00, do you have any updates for the forum/me about that soil test? I'd personally still be interested in how it turned out.

Oct 15, 2018

@JohnnyCakes I do yes. So I was a little low with Nitrogen and they also recommended adding micronutrients. For the quick fix on the nitrogen I added Fish Powder from Down to Earth ( smelly stuff ) and the longer term feather meal also from Down to Earth. I'm now in to my second grow with this soil and the plants responded well. Regarding the micronutrients I added Re-Charge every other watering.

The rest of the macronutrients were all pretty high and one train of thought was the previous plant did not tap in to the macros due to the lack of bacteria / micros. I don't know enough to know if that is accurate or not. What I do know is the plants have had a very positive reaction to these additions. After this grow I'll have it tested again and see how the 2nd test compares to the 1st.


So I started growing what I thought was a Girl Scout cookie and a God Bud with both plants doing great. I topped both at the 4th node and then a couple of weeks later the GSC looks like it is in bloom. The company I bought the seeds from doesn't sell a GSC auto so I'm not totally certain what I'm growing. Never grew an auto before. What stinks is I had to cut the veg cycle short on the GB. I was hoping to veg for 60 days. I'm going to have to try another GSC seed to see if they sent me all autos.

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