Steps // How to Make and Use Compost Tea
1 ×

Add the Tubing

 
Step One // How to Make and Use Compost Tea

Add the Tubing

Roger Cook adds tubing to a rain barrel
Photo by Kindra Clineff

Cut a length of ⅜-inch-diameter irrigation tubing and bend it into a ring that fits the bottom of the barrel. Join the ends with a T-fitting, and attach the remaining tubing to the T's third leg. Using a 3/16-inch bit, drill a series of holes into the top of the ring about 1 inch apart; they let air bubble up, encouraging the growth of beneficial bacteria and reducing odors.

 
2 ×

Place the Lid

 
Step Two // How to Make and Use Compost Tea

Place the Lid

attaching the compost bag to the lid of a rain barrel
Photo by Kindra Clineff

Drill a ⅜-inch hole in the barrel's lid, and thread the irrigation tubing up through it. Fill a nylon-mesh bag or cheesecloth with about 7 pounds of aged compost. Pull the top of the sack through the lid's center hole, and hang it from a dowel so that the sack is suspended in the center of the barrel. Place the lid over the barrel.

 
3 ×

Let it Brew

 
Step Three // How to Make and Use Compost Tea

Let it Brew

Roger Cook collects freshly brewed compost tea
Photo by Kindra Clineff

Connect the barrel to the downspout. Using a stainless-steel hose clamp, secure the aerator to the end of the tubing coming out of the barrel. Once the barrel is full of rainwater, run the aerator for at least 24 hours. (If using tap water, aerate for 20 minutes before adding compost.) Leave the aerator on whenever there's tea in the barrel, to keep the bacteria alive.

 
4 ×

Spray the Lawn

 
Step Four // How to Make and Use Compost Tea

Spray the Lawn

Roger Cook sprays compost tea on a lawn with a pump sprayer
Photo by Kindra Clineff

For lawns of 400 square feet or less, wet the grass with the tea using a pump sprayer. Use a backpack or walk-behind sprayer for larger lawns. One gallon covers about 1,000 square feet. At minimum, apply the tea in early spring, summer, early fall, and just before the lawn goes dormant, although there's no harm in letting your grass drink the tea more frequently.

 

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