How to Make and Use Compost Tea
TOH landscape contractor Roger Cook shows how to get a beautiful, maintenance-free lawn using a natural liquid fertilizer
Q: Can you give me the recipe for making compost tea?
—John Stumpo, Detroit
Roger Cook replies: Compost tea is a natural liquid fertilizer loaded with beneficial bacteria and nutrients that reach the roots faster than traditional compost. A lawn treated with the tea grows slower, needs less mowing, and uses less water because of its deep roots.
My compost recipe is 2 parts carbon-rich "browns," such as dead leaves, to 1 part nitrogen-rich "greens," like rotted grass clippings. I put 7 pounds of it in a mesh sack and suspend the sack inside a rain barrel filled with water and fitted with an aerator. Then I add 12 ounces each of molasses, liquid kelp, and fish hydrolysate. These last two are sold by . It takes about 24 hours to brew 55 gallons of tea, enough for more than an acre of lawn. Once it's used up, discard the compost and start a fresh batch.
Add the Tubing
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.