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Tips and Hints for Compost Tea and Homemade EM

Hanley Kale-Grinder


Joined: Sep 30, 2011
Posts: 112
Location: Mountain West of USA, Salt Lake City
    
    1
Hello

I'm planning on making both worm casting/compost tea, and EM. I've read a good amount on the subject and have experimented with both. My friend who has done this on a very large scale gave me the recipe for homemade EM. If you are not familiar with EM, it stands for 'Efficient Microorganisms' and is a blend of anaerobic bacteria, fungi, and yeast. He says that soil needs both aerobes and anaerobes for maximum health.

Compost Tea and Worm Tea

Fill a 5 gallon bucket with water and .5 pounds of worm castings and .5 pounds of finished compost. Add 2-4 tablespoons of molasses and 2-4 tablespoons of liquid kelp. Aerate with an air pump and air stone for 24-48 hours. Strain and spray on soil and plants.

EM

Fill a 5 gallon bucket with water and 1 pound of native compost. This is best found in a surrounding natural environment but can be taken from a compost pile or aged manure pile if necessary. Add 2-4 tablespoons of molasses and 2-4 tablespoons of liquid kelp. Keep the container sealed air tight (you might need to off gas it a bit occasionally) until the brew stops stinking and takes on an earthy smell. Strain and spray on plants and soil.

Any questions, comments, concerns or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
Vladimir Horowitz


Joined: Feb 19, 2012
Posts: 23
Location: N. Idaho, zone 5
I am a big fan of compost tea, as I feel that it can really wake the soil up to it's potential by creating a microbial party. Some soils don't really need this, but it sure can work wonders in some cases. I also feel like after enough rounds of applying tea you really don't need it much anymore. It is also very useful as a broad spectrum "medicine" for plants when something strange that you might not be able to figure out is going on. I like to foliar spray it for that purpose. Currently I only have experience brewing up batches in a 5 gal bucket, but will be stepping up to a 55 gallon system here now that I have land.

Here are my comments and tips on brewing good tea.......First off, you must make sure that you are pumping enough air through the water to be making a AACT(actively aerated compost tea) or else you risk breeding anaerobic bacteria that can actually do harm. I agree that a small pump with an airstone or two is enough for a 5gal, there is a formula for determining needed airflow if you want to know exactly. There is alot more to the science of how the air moves through the water, that I am still learning more on....

I feel like the formula you are using is a bit on the heavy side in terms of ingredients. Good worm poop goes a long way, I normally used a 1/2 cup which i believe is alot less then 1/2 lb. It is definitely benefical to use more then one source of compost for the brew, but really not much is needed. I was also using 1 tsp/gal of molasses and 1/4 tsp/gal of powdered kelp extract, or 5 tsp molasses and ~1 tsp kelp extract. Using too much sugar or kelp(another food source for the microbes) can negatively effect the tea.

A couple other things, for brew time 12-24 hrs seems to be the zone to shoot for according to the mad compost tea scientists(the folks who own microscopes, do research on formulas and run times and make their findings available). Apparently after 24 hrs the possibility of breeding nasties increases and i believe beneficials start dying off too. The one time i let a brew go 36 hours it didn't smell right and i dumped it. As for the water you use for brewing, make sure that it is chlorine and chloramine free. Chlorine can be bubbled off with the air stone in ~24hrs, or allowed to sit for at least 48 hrs with an open top to off gas before using. Chloramine however(which alot of municipalities are using now) won't off gas like chlorine and needs to be filtered out with a reverse osmosis filter(other stuff might work too). Well, spring, rain and you are good to go.

Thanks for posting on this, I do love compost tea and am always looking to learn more myself.......
Duncan Dalby


Joined: Jan 22, 2012
Posts: 36
Location: England, Midlands.
I dont have a huge amount of experience with compost tea, I've used it a couple of times, but I have done a bit of research.
From what I can see in the published literature adding sugar like molasses doesn't do much apart from encourage the growth of potential pathogens. It makes sense when you think about it, soil microbes dont get sugar very often so more opportunistic bacteria would be more able to exploit it. However adding things like rockdust and humic acid can be very effective.
Also people seem very scared of it getting anaerobic. There are quite a few studies looking into completely anaerobic compost teas and I dont think I've seen one that found them harmful to plants, in fact several found anaerobic compost teas more effective as a foliar spray against disease than aerobic kinds.
Jordan Lowery
volunteer

Joined: Sep 26, 2009
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
    
  11
im concerned about your EM culture, which will give you nothing near the real EM-1. your not going to collect and culture PNSB, yeasts and lactic acid bacteria that way, sorry.

your ACT brew also is way too heavy, what type of air pump?

The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings. - Masanobu Fukuoka
Hanley Kale-Grinder


Joined: Sep 30, 2011
Posts: 112
Location: Mountain West of USA, Salt Lake City
    
    1
Thanks for the replies! I will cut back on the ingredients. How does 1 pound of compost, 1 tbsp of kelp liquid, 1 tbsp of molasses sound? Vladimir, your recipe seems much lighter than other ones I've read about.

Jordan, I'm not trying to make EM-1. I've seen the recipes for that which involve milk and rice and will make some for the farms chickens. From what I know, EM is a general term for any anaerobic compost tea. I could be wrong though. The recipe I laid out was given to me by a person who uses this formula to re-invigorate barren land and also clean up toxic waste sites. I haven't gotten an air pump yet but will probably just get the biggest one we can afford.
Jordan Lowery
volunteer

Joined: Sep 26, 2009
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
    
  11
EM does not stand for any general anaerobic compost tea. sorry that's just false information, but its ok. as you said EM stands for effective microorganisms. which is a product originally from japan made by Professor Teruo Higa. consisting of microorganisms that you also mentioned in the first post. i have read the rice and milk thing before. i think it comes from a guy in the Philippines.

also its not on how big your pump is, its how you use it. how many gallons of compost tea were you planning on brewing?

Hanley Kale-Grinder


Joined: Sep 30, 2011
Posts: 112
Location: Mountain West of USA, Salt Lake City
    
    1
I need to eventually make a lot of tea, enough to 'inoculate' about 1.5 acres of soil. It doesn't have to happen all at once though. We can make a batch, use it, make another batch, etc. What do you mean by "how you use the pump?" That made me lol btw

Also, would one simply call the O2 less tea, "anaerobic compost tea?" My friend who uses it says that not many people know about it and in fact many will get quite upset at the mention of it as "aerobic, aerobic, aerobic" is a mantra often heard in organic gardening/ag. I'll try to call him to clarify a few things but last I heard he was out of the country....hence the thread here!
Jordan Lowery
volunteer

Joined: Sep 26, 2009
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
    
  11
making enough tea for 1.5 acres is nothing at all. you can do that with a 10 gallon brewer. brew a healthy compost tea, dilute it 1:10 and spray your acre and a half. you dont need to soak the soil with compost tea, just get the nutrient cycling microbes to the soil. from there they will feed on soil material and multiply.

anaerobic bacteria have there place, and yes anaerobic compost teas have been proven to provide disease resistance in plants.

how you use the pump means what type of brewer design you build. a small fish pump in a 1 gallon bucket will be ok, but the same pump in a 5 or 10 gallon would produce muddy brown water instead of compost tea.
Hanley Kale-Grinder


Joined: Sep 30, 2011
Posts: 112
Location: Mountain West of USA, Salt Lake City
    
    1
I ended up going with .75 pounds of compost, 1 tbsp molasses and 1 tbsp liquid kelp in a 5 gallon bucket and a pump rated for 40 gallons running through two air stones. After making the mixture it seemed a little heavy as the water is quite dark. Hopefully it won't harm anything as it is going onto un-planted soil when its done in 36 hours (I added some time as the water was freezing cold coming out of the spigot). The room that the bucket is in is probably around 65 degrees F.
Jessica Windle


Joined: Mar 22, 2012
Posts: 7
Location: Kimberley, BC Canada ZONE 3


Check out this PDF from a Japanese farming research centre.



[Download Effective Microorganisms.pdf] Download


Dreams don't work unless you do
Hanley Kale-Grinder


Joined: Sep 30, 2011
Posts: 112
Location: Mountain West of USA, Salt Lake City
    
    1
I came back 36 hours later and the water had gone from an opaque dark brown to a translucent sweet gold that smelled like good soil. This aeration time will be cut down in the summer and if I start with warmer water. I would say that the water was around 60 F this time around. I think this was a good mixture but don't have a microscope to confirm the bacterial content. Thanks for the help everyone!
Hanley Kale-Grinder


Joined: Sep 30, 2011
Posts: 112
Location: Mountain West of USA, Salt Lake City
    
    1
Thanks for the info Jessica!
Cee Ray


Joined: Nov 26, 2011
Posts: 82
Location: BC Interior, zone 5a
    
    1
http://microbeorganics.com has some recipes for compost tea near the bottom of the page
Debra Snook


Joined: Oct 16, 2012
Posts: 4
hello.. I"m hoping some one is still monitoring this thread..
I have set up my ccompost tea and it will be done .. in a day or 2
I also have made the rice wash lab's..

my ? is .. can i apply this with a siphon & sprinkler.. and still have em.. working after mixing with city water - we still have a small ppm chlorine added..

thanks.. I'm not wanting to cary a watering can .. for all the yard and garden..
alternatives appreciated.
Mateo Chester


Joined: Jan 10, 2013
Posts: 148
Location: Zone 4b
    
    2
Jordan Lowery wrote:. i think it comes from a guy in the Philippines.


If I'm not mistaken, I believe the man you're speaking of is Gil Carandang. http://gilcarandang.com/.
Mateo Chester


Joined: Jan 10, 2013
Posts: 148
Location: Zone 4b
    
    2
Debra,

If microbiological innoculation is your aim, then as long as the device you're using doesn't have a propeller pump that will potantially chop up the fungal hyphae you should be good. Without knowing the model you are using it is in fact difficult to know for sure. I would be equally concerned with the chlorine and making sure it gets bubbled out properly before application to your crops.

Hope this helps.

MC
S Bengi


Joined: Nov 29, 2012
Posts: 1029
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
    
    5
Debra Snook wrote: I'm not wanting to cary a watering can .. for all the yard and garden..
alternatives appreciated.


You could get a backpack sprayer.
It only cost $49

http://www.walmart.com/ip/20248332?wmlspartner=wlpa&adid=22222222227000000000&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=&wl3=21486607510&wl4=&wl5=pla&veh=sem

If it is a foliar spray for the leaves only then, apply when it is not going to rain.
If you want it mainly for the soil the apply while there is a break in the downpour, or while it is raining.

Sean Banks


Joined: Feb 22, 2013
Posts: 119
2 cups earthworm castings
4 tablespoons Bat Guano
4 tablespoons Seabird Guano
4 tablespoons azomite
5 tablespoon organic unsulphured molasses
4 gallons unchlorinated water
*add aquarium bubbler and bubble for 24 hours
*repeat every 3-4 weeks

Make sure the bat guano and seabird guano are organic and harvested in a responsible way....
tried this on my tomatoes and zucchini and they took a huge leap in growth within only a few days
 
 
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