Help with Compost Tea

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On 10 Sep 2003 12:04:40 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@attbi.com (Fleemo) wrote:

A letter posted today on yahoo groups compost-tea.
Compost tea has been around a LONG time. Since the Roman Empire, to the best of anyone's knowledge. Just like aspirin, or honey for a sore throat, biodynamic preps. the science behind using these practices was lacking. Scientific studies were not performed with these materials, because of the weight of tradition behind them.
Aspirin began to be studied just a few years ago, and it was clear that effectiveness could be improved by understanding why aspirin works. Different formulations work better for different kinds of pains.
Compost tea is like aspirin for your soil and plants. Does it need scientific study? Sure. That's what IS HAPPENING with compost tea. We're getting around to studying it. But to declare that compost tea has no benefit because someone tried it on their bushes, or did a study where they used something that probably wasn't compost tea is a bad case of throwing the baby out with the bath water. There's some bath water that needs to be exited (maybe snake-oil would be another term), but there's a core of solid knowledge developing about compost tea.
Compost tea can work, amazingly well, but just like aspirin, some traditional formulations leave a lot to be desired. Throwing compost into water and leaving it to ferment can result in dead plants, or can result in vibrant, healthy plant.
Inconsistency in results is what has probably prevented compost tea from gaining widespread acceptance. I've killed a few plants with stinky, smelly compost tea. That's why I know at least some of what not to do.
Don't leave compost tea in a container until it starts to smell bad. Just because it smells bad doesn't always mean that bad things will happen. Sometimes there is no effect. Sometimes, the brew has enough competitive organisms in it to out-compete the disease on your plant and give positive results. BUT, any time harm has been observed, the tea has been stinky and smelly.
So, how do you make a tea that is consistently beneficial?
Aerate the tea during production, and the danger is removed. If we control the brewing conditions, then much more consistent teas are produced.
When someone assumes that non-aerated tea will automatically be anaerobic, they reveal that they don't know much about the entire business.
How do you know for certain something is aerobic? A real scientist would use an oxygen probe to measure oxygen concentration. Data are required to make a statement about aerobic - anaerobic conditions in tea. Non-aerated teas can still be aerobic.
If you are a non-scientist, smells are a reasonable way to assess anaerobic conditions. If the brew stinks, or smells bad, there's a real possibility that some very bad things will happen to your plants. Putting bad smelling, anaerobic tea into your soil may not cause the soil to go anaerobic, but it will certainly help move it that way. Anaerobic liquids may kill or put-to-sleep the beneficial organisms in soil that make soil aggregates. That means compaction will be more likely in the future, and your soil will be even less of a good place to grow your plants if it gets more compacted.
Do we need to test each batch of tea? Not if the data are there to show us that a machine can maintain aeration and mixing to produce good tea. You have to follow directions about temperature, water quality, added foods in the brewer, and compost quality. But if the tea machine maker has done the testing and can show the data about bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes in the tea brewer, and you follow their directions, then the tea you make should be fine. Maybe testing the first two or three batches to prove to yourself that you are doing fine would be a good idea.
Why is there so little published on actively aerated compost tea? Because the machines to make consistent compost tea were only invented within the last five years. And the first people to make such a machine did not do adequate testing on exactly what that machine was able to do, or why it worked so well.
So, we're working on the science. But just because there are some snake-oil sales-people out there doesn't mean you throw the whole industry out the door. What is needed is education on which machines give tea that works every time, and which machines are snake-oil purveyors.
The International Compost Tea Council (www.intlctc.com) is working on testing all the kinds of tea-makers on the market. They have a good explanation of what is good tea, and why it is good tea on their website.
Soil Foodweb Inc (www.soilfoodweb.com) has compared different tea machines on the market. Our findings showed serious differences between different tea machines in their ability to extract and grow the organisms from the compost. The biggest split was between machines that often become anaerobic during the tea brewing cycle, such as the Soil Soup machines, and the Growing Solutions machines. These two machines CAN make aerobic teas, if you are careful to use very low amounts of foods in the tea brew, but then you can't grow decent levels of bacteria or fungi if the compost used is truly mature. Fungi are never adequate in the Soil Soup machine, and only occasionally adequate in the Growing Solutions machine.
All of our agricultural and urban or suburban soils are typically low in fungi. Humans till and disturb soil, and that tillage knocks the fungi for a real loop. So, it is critical to get fungi back into the soil, and get the disease protection needed back on the roots, leaves, stems, and blossoms of the plants.
Machines like the KIS brewers (www.simplici-tea.com), the EPM brewers (www.composttea.com), the WormGold brewers (www.wormgold.com), and the Bob-O-Later brewers (check the yahoo groups.com compost tea list serve, compost snipped-for-privacy@yahoogroups.com for their info) make excellent tea, with all the organisms in the compost extracted into the tea. They have data on their websites, they have demonstration areas they can send you to show where the tea is working (the best demos are in Idaho, on potato land, but the daylilies, people's lawns and gardens and even golf courses can be seen as well).
Now, if soil is already healthy, and toxic chemicals are not needed to maintain the system, what does that tell you? That the biology needed is in your system already. More good won't hurt, but it won't improve things. But you don't shut down an entire industry because one person's yard is in good health.
That's like saying that because I'm healthy right now, the whole antibiotic industry is pointless and antibiotics should be banned. What about when you get sick? What about when there is a disease outbreak? You are going to need the antibiotic.
When people do have plants that are not healthy, they need an approach that will bring back the healthy condition.
Same thing with human health. We need a medical system that pushes health, instead of antibiotics. Oh, you don't get rid of the antibiotics, because people will get into situations where there is no other solution, but you don't use the "nuke-em" approaches unless absolutely necessary. Same with compost tea. There will be conditions where the disease is so bad, that the tea can't keep up. So use the toxic chemical and then get tea back out there so you don't have to keep using the nuke-em.
But there is more work needed to learn exactly what conditions result in the best compost tea. That work is on-going. Keep checking the ICTC website, the SFI website for more information.
Compost has the benefits it does because of the organisms and the foods to feed those organisms in the compost. The organisms interact. Logic is lacking when someone suggests that compost tea is a problem because we "have to now worry about the microbes interacting" (quote from the B&B article that appeared in August).
There's no logic in claiming "there's a potential for variability" in compost tea without also applying that same criticism to compost. In fact, the most variable thing in compost tea is the compost. If someone wants to claim "some people do testing that is inconclusive", that just says there's a problem with your sampling, not that every tea ever made is worthless. As if the same criticism couldn't be applied to soil, or compost, or chicken soup.
Compost leachates should not be confused with compost tea. A leachate is an extraction of soluble materials. Tea requires the physical removal of the whole diversity of organisms from the compost, which cannot be achieved by passive movement of water through the compost. Tea is also brewed, so the organisms have time to grow, reproduce, and increase in numbers. No one who knows anything about compost tea would call a liquid a leachate in one sentence and call the same material a compost tea in the next sentence. Cedar Grove produces a compost leachate, not a compost tea. Someone in city government should push the issue with them, because Cedar Grove is mis-representing what they are selling.
Maintaining an understanding of the difference between leaching and leachates is also important. In properly made compost, the inorganic forms of nitrogen (N) should be at barely detectable levels. The inorganic forms of N are the most leachable kinds of N, which is why compost usually gets a bad rap as a fertilizer - low to no inorganic N, S, or P. But plenty of N is present in any decent compost, but present as bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, microarthropods, and perhaps worms. Biology is not leachable; the organisms have to be attached to their food, or they don't stay active. So organisms hold on very well indeed.
Leachates DO NOT contain significant biology because microbes don't wash off compost or leaf surfaces with a mere rinse or wash. Leachates contain soluble materials from the soil, compost, mulch, potting mixes, or whatever. Data exist to show that compost teas contain measurable amounts of nutrients, but not in a leachable form. You want proof? Send in a good, aerobic compost tea to a chemistry lab. They can show you that the N in compost tea does not exist in the inorganic forms. But look at the biology. That's where the N is located.
Now, leave a compost leachate in a vat for awhile and what Dr. Chalker-Scott was worried about could be true. Putrefying organic matter does not contain the biology needed to hold the nutrients in place. Without the right biology, leachable forms of N, P, or S do not get converted to non-leachable forms.
How do nutrients get moved out of the bacteria and fungi and back into a plant-available form? This requires predators of bacteria and fungi, but in the right amounts and in the right places. The plant should control this interaction, and it does in healthy soil. But when the soil lacks predators, then nutrient cycling cannot occur.
Compost and compost tea contain all these organisms, in greater concentration and diversity than soil. They are both inocula of the organisms. If the habitat is right, organisms grow and thus spread through your soil.
Compost tea contains the soluble nutrients found in compost, but lacks the solids that occur in tea. So, is it better to use compost or compost tea? Compost will have a benefit for years, while compost tea, no matter how high in biology and soluble foods, has a limited ability for maintaining organism activity. But organisms grow, and as a source of the diversity of organisms needed to get back in your soil, both compost and compost tea are terrific. Compost tea is easier to apply than compost, and can be used to deliver the organisms to the foliage. So which is better? Depends on what you need.
Now, let's clear the air about the study that was done at UW in 2001. Soil Foodweb Inc documented that the COMPOST contained a good set of organisms - that is bacteria, fungi and protozoa. Sorry, the compost wasn't outstanding, as there were no nematodes present. A Growing Solutions Microb-Brewer machine was used, which IF PROPERLY CLEANED, is capable of extracting good bacterial, fungal and protozoan biomass. (But please note that Growing Solutions no longer makes Microb-Brewers. They make a different machine now).
Note that the Dr. Chalker-Scott article tried to side-step around the fact that the tea was never documented to be worth the time and effort they were putting into it. Was the tea made properly? Did they clean the machine properly? NO DATA about the TEA. What about their sprayer? Did they ever test the leaf surfaces to see if they were getting organisms on the leaves? Did they get proper coverage of the leaf surfaces?
They did not document any of those things. When doing a study that is purported to be scientific, the very least you have to do is show that the treatment being applied is in fact what you say it is.
I visited the tea brewer that was being used for the UW study and immediately pointed out that they had severe cleaning problems. The insides and outsides of the brewer were streaked with bio-film, the pipes had not been cleaned. The brewer smelled so bad that I could not remain in the area. The excuse I received at the time was that the person cleaning the brewer had been on vacation just before I arrived. That's an excuse. If the person had been cleaning the machine properly, they would have left it clean. More realistically, the tea brewer had probably not been cleaned the entire summer.
When I was there, I pointed out that no effort had been made, despite constant reminders, to make sure they were getting adequate organism coverage on the leaf surfaces. They had no idea if the brown liquid they were putting out was really tea. This is in contrast to numerous clients of ours who have checked their first two or three tea brews and learned that they need to do to make top-notch tea and get excellent leaf coverage.
There were other possible problems, such as not applying the tea at the correct rates. For example, on Jackson golf course, the FIRST tea application was not made until after July 4. In the Pacific Northwest, all those ugly fungal patches, take-all, molds, and root-feeding grubs are well-established by mid-summer. To expect compost tea to take care of all the fungicide that has been sprayed up until then, much less all the diseases already well-established by that point is just ludicrous. The compost tea organisms have to establish BEFORE the "bad-guys".
During my second trip to talk with these people, at the end of the season, when I was standing on a green riddled with horrible patches of disease, it was revealed that when the head superintendent was away on vacation, the person left in charge had decided to use chemicals on the supposed "tea-greens". It was after that point that the tea had failed. Hum, I wonder why?
So, is it fair to suspect that there was a hidden agenda operating during this study?
At the beginning of the compost tea study in Seattle in 2001, I was threatened with a lawsuit just for saying that I work with Jim Moore, from Texas, who does consulting on golf courses, and has studies going on USGA greens. When questioned whether Jim had a Ph.D., I said I wasn't aware that Jim Moore had a Ph.D. But a golf course employee called Dr. Moore and told him I had claimed that I worked closely with him. Dr. Moore became so angry he threatened me with a lawsuit.
Guess what? There's more than one Jim Moore living in Texas and more than one working on golf courses which have USGA greens. Actually, the real Jim Moore told me that there were at least two more Jim Moore's in Texas working on USGA golf courses. For anyone to jump into lawsuit territory based on this "evidence" is beyond the bounds of normal behavior. But I think it tells a significant story about these studies on compost tea in 2001.
Compost tea has been around for a long time. The benefits have been variable. We need to standardize the tea-making process, so we know that each tea made is going to deliver the biology needed to improve soil and cover leaf surfaces.
There will be snake-oil sales people who try to cash in on this potential. There will be proponents of the old paradigm who fear what change will bring. But you can see through their lack of logic pretty easily.
Is more replicated, solid science required? Yes. But check out the science that has been done on the information listed on the ATTRA website. And in the book published by Soil Foodweb Inc.
If a scientist were really interested in doing a decent study on compost tea, they would test the tea, and make sure the biology was surviving in the soil and on the leaf surfaces. Just checking the compost, before making the tea, is not adequate science.
As a consumer, how do you protect yourself? The snake oil salesmen don't have any data to show their machines, or "compost", or "catalyst packages" actually improve the biology in the brew. They don't have studies that show that the biology in the tea improved the biology in the soil. Those kinds of studies have been done by Soil Foodweb, and are in the Compost Tea Brewing Manual, or will be published in scientific journals. We have a SARE tea trial in vineyards in review by a scientific journal currently.
And it is NOT just bacteria that must be present in the brew (beware of the plate count methods that only give bacterial results!). Fungi, protozoa and nematodes are also required in tea brews that will improve your soil, and ultimately end up with systems that require very little maintenance.
Neither pesticides nor compost tea are needed in healthy systems. But we have to have healthy soils first.
Fungi have been killed by the constant fungicide applications to our rose bushes, our cut flowers, our gardens, and ag fields. We need to put the beneficial fungi, protozoa and nematodes back. If you add back just bacteria, as two of the machines on the market are only able to do, you cannot hope to get the full benefit.
So, the bottom line is that caution is required, but out-right rejection is silly. Do some reading, check some websites, look at some demos. Don't waste your money on things that only give you step one in a twelve step program, and don't buy something from someone giving you hype. Data should be asked for, and if they don't have any data, walk away.
For more information, please contact the ICTC, or Soil Foodweb Inc.
Dr. Elaine R. Ingham is President of Soil Foodweb Inc, with labs in Oregon and New York, Australia, New Zealand, Holland and Mexico. She is graduate faculty at Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.
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Yowza, I sure hope you reposted that as a hilarious example of the muddy supernatural thinking of VENDORS trying to hornswoggle you into believing complete & utter nonsense, leaving out even moderate scientific content! As Dr Elain is one of the big-cheese VENDORS she perfectly represents the VENDOR perspective on why you should spend money on stuff her company sells. Funny she has been peddling this stuff a long time now, and STILL pretending "real soon now" her own COMPANY research will soon appear in scientific journals, as if her inane ad-copy could get past peer review (hasn't managed to do so thus far!). In this "letter" devoid of citation source or fact other than her sales-oriented company, she DOES manage to include the following nonsense in her VENDOR's screed:
1) She repeats the old lie about compost teas being a source of nematodes. 2) she notes that science is your enemy in these matters "because the weight of tradition" counts for more than emperical evidence of any kind unless it can be fudged for commerce. 3) She repeats the common vendor explanation for why all the field studies show aerated compost tea has no effect beyond that of plain water in controlling pathogens: It wasn't "real" compost tea! (Every vendor says "mine would've worked, they didn't use mine, it doesn't prove mine doesn't work" -- "magic" thinking). 4) Riddles her screed with central "ideas" that are completely irrational, like "compost tea is like asprin" -- truly avoiding the simplest logic. 5) Lyingly rephrases the extant science to make it sound as crazy as her screed 6) Lies outright that she can teach methods of absolute consistency for consecutive batches of teas. 7) Claims that compost teas are actually DANGEROUS if you don't learn from her methods (that's a new one! Most of these vendors don't want to link compost tea to the idea of dangerousness -- but I can see that someone who charges up the wazoo for compost tea workshops called "tea seminars" would want to create another level of tea mythology, that without her input you'll kill your garden) 8) Lies outright that safe teas can only be made with expensive commercial equipment you should buy. 9) Lies outright about there being no studies so far proving anything one way or another, but that her company & the equally commercial Compost Tea Counsel will real-soon-now be publishing THEIR evidences of its miracle values, & you should rely on that sort of vendor information ahead of time right now since you surely know they're gonna say miracles are miracles after all. 10) Contradicts six peer-reviewed published studies that show compost teas quickly leach out of soils before plants are benefited, & replacese reality with a flimflam version about compost pile leachates. 11) Uses the "baby with the bathwater" argument as back-up when the lies don't work -- cuz even if everything the peer-reviewed science has shown to be true really is true, you should still use the teas for purposes it is no good for because otherwise you're throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

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Often one to ten nematodes per gallon -- often none at all -- & even those few won't be the specific nematodes noted for attacking harmful insects, so you might as well be adding vinegar worms. Plus if nematodes are to be successfully introduced to a garden it must be done under specific conditions of temperature & moisture & in their species' season at a time when their host/prey is vulnerable. In context of teas the promise of nematodes has no applicability, & the word is an "abracadabra" incantation to insure sales from easy dupes who believe in merely magical principles perpetrated specifically to sell teas by vendors who really don't like the science.
And if you fell for the nematode line, did you also agree with that crazy biddy's claim that the only reason no field study supports her claims is because researchers & scientists sneak into the fields when no one's watching & intentionally poison their plants because they malicioiusly want to undermine her claims? If you believe such a paranoid scam artist about how the horticultural extension studies poison their plants to "get" her, then you're not qualified to judge who's an idjet with or without a microscope; all ya need's a mirror.
-paghat the ratgirl
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You just don't get it! We're not trying to add specific nematodes with specific hosts. That's just not the intent. And once again you pull a snippet out of context and exaggerate. The are no "magical" properties advertised by SFI! But I guess it's obvious, that when you are wrong, you just won't budge! Reminds me of your poke about Las Vegas not having "hundreds" of associations, when you are clearly proven wrong you get suddenly quiet or obtuse. So be it....one disagreement out of many posts with common ground isn't bad....

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On Mon, 15 Sep 2003 16:21:38 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@netscapeSPAM-ME-NOT.net (paghat) wrote:

So typical of you ...back to the shit pile where I should have known to keep you....
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snipped-for-privacy@attbi.com (Fleemo) wrote:

If you only use it as a subsitute for non-organic liquid fertilizer, then you're doing no harm. It's not as good as topcoating with an organic compost, but it's a damned sight better than non-organic compounds.
It is when it gets into the areas of being BETTER than other organic methods, or of preventing pathogenic problems in the garden, that the science informs you the opposite is true.

If it doesn't smell bad, it's harmless. Even if it stinks it probably won't do THAT much harm, but the odor is from bacterial wastes & even the outside-chance of adding beneficial microbes to the soil is shot to hell.
-paghat the ratgirl

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What does this mean?

What does this mean? Not sure what you meant here.

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wrote:

Chloramines are used to treat water in some areas, and tehy are difficult to remove.
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Good advise Pam, I think it would be more practical to think in terms of oz per 1000sq ft for home use. I stand with 64oz/1000 of concentrate with howevr much water is needed.
Ideas?
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On 8 Sep 2003 00:51:12 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@attbi.com (Fleemo) wrote:

Use about a cup or two of good quality vermicompost. Add a tablespoon of organic molasses, some kelp extract, and rock phosphate. If your compost is thermophilic, has gone to 135-150 degrees in several cycles it may be good as ACT(Aerated Compost Tea). If it's the typical homeowner stuff find a new source. Email and I'll give you a source in your area. snipped-for-privacy@lasvegaslivesoil.com
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Lab tests, direct counts of bacteria and fungi, conclusively show that ACT Aerated Compost Tea is of the highest quality when "brewed for 18-24 hours

Yes chlorine will kill beneficial microbes. If your water treatment facility uses chloramines it is very persistent. Sodium thiosulphate (aquarium dechlorinator) is a poor dechlorinator and will likely kill microbes with its residuals. Put some 5-gallon buckets of water out in the sun for a day or two, use a carbon filter, or bubble the water for 24 hours with your pump and stones,

Using a single stone will NOT provide enough air to keep the ACT aerated and it will likely go anaerobic.... NOT WHAT YOU WANT! Use two circular sections of 1/4 porous tubing. One circle at the right angle formed by the side and bottom of the bucket, an additional circle about the center of the bottom of the bucket.

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Ya see how even what seems to be a simple subject can result in so many conflicting opinions? :}
I'm curious, Tom, why wouldn't the "typical homeowner stuff" be good enough for the tea? Are there really different grades of compost?
I forgot to mention that I did add some organic molasses to the pot. The kelp exctract and rock phosphate are new to me. I assume you can find this stuff at a typical garden center, and that they're essential to the formula?
So for the rings of porus tubing, I'm picturing two concentric circles a the bottom of the bucket, correct? Where do you find such tubing?

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On 8 Sep 2003 11:53:16 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@attbi.com (Fleemo) opined:

These results are not mere opinions. They are heavily researched procedures. www.soilfoodweb.com will give much of that information.

Absolutely. There are huge differences in compost, one to another.

Most good garden centers sell kelp and soft rock phosphate, but it is not essential. However, it is optimum.

I bought a "skein" of it at Lowes. They sell it along with other drip irrigation stuff. I bought the T connectors at Walmart in the aquarium section very inexpensively. I think they cost a dollar each.

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This is a commercial website that promotes ideas either disproven or unproven as factual. You can find a thousand just like it, all very positive. For every two thousand sell-you-crap websites praising compost tea, you'll be able to find one actual piece of peer-reviewed science that shows the opposite to be true. Any site invested in selling you stuff is not going to provide you with the actual data of compost teas harming ground water, leaching too quickly out of soils to be of any benefit, injuring plants with excessive amounts of fertilizer, being in every regard inferior to a topcoating of mulching compost, NOT improving the microorganism content of soils, NOT repairing anaerobic soils, and for the most part not even hindering pathogenic organisms (no more than would a good soaking with pure water in any case).
Not everything labeled "organic" is a good thing. The pro-Chemical lobby just hates it when "ecofundies" refuse to believe cancerous toxic chemicals are good for us & our gardens & go all insane in defennse of their PetroChemical fetish. Will greenies get just as up in arms when their favorite organic fad is found out to be 99.9% flimflam? Watch the Compost Tea thread(s) to find out!
-paghat the ratgirl
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On 8 Sep 2003 11:53:16 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@attbi.com (Fleemo) wrote:

Well there are conflicting opinions and then there are the known scientific facts. ATTRA.ORG soilfoodweb.com, and the international compost tea council and the compost council are sources of the good science behind composting and ACT.

Compost is a really general term. First we probably need a 250-post wreck.gardens slugfest to sort it out? Nah! Most homeowners do not get their compost piles to temperature. I insist, and good science backs up the concept, that the compost has controlled inputs (balanced) and reaches 135-150 several times in the cycle. I also insist that it be tested by the manufacturer for biological diversity and stability.
I say vermicompost even when a little pricey for quality stuff because if it's from a tested source it's likely far more stable and biologically divers than most composts.

Typical garden center? Maybe in OR or WA, they seem to be more enlightened.
I often use and recommend www.groworganic.com

Yes at the bottom of the bucket. I found it in a conventional nursery drip irrigation section. http://doitbest.com/shop/product.asp?mscssid=8Q5AUCHADRW09LJTS1DQJVDKWU5D4956&mbridG24&dept%5Fid 00&skup2775
I don't recommend gluing it down, as it needs to be changed every once in awhile as the bacteria and fungi tend to clog it up. A visual inspection will tell you when to change it.
Feel free to eail for additional resources.
snipped-for-privacy@chemicalslivesoil.com remove chemicals for valid address
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I have a five gallon bucket to which I adhered two pieces of 1/4 inch drip line tubing, in concentric circles, on the bottom of the pail. I bought a two outlet aquarium pump, but you can do it with one and use a T connection for two circles of drip tubing. I adhered them by using marine glue (totally dried and it doesn't hurt anything in the water) to stick the anchors down. For that I went to Lowes and bought a bag of wire clasps. I can't remember the name of them, but they are in the aisle with the cable wire. You put the cable in it and then put a nail or screw through to hold the cable down. I put my drip tubes into that and only adhere one side of the "holder" down so I can put the drip tube in or take it out. It provides me enough hold for the task.
Then, I take a water plant basket. Two dollars for a round one at Lowes, also. Put my very excellent compost in that and float it down to sit on the drip tubes which now have air pushing through, instead of water dripping out.
My compost leachate is ready to use in about 24-36 hours. Any longer and I've read the organisms you are growing don't survive in the water. The idea is to grow organisms which are beneficial in the aerobic water.
I've heard Tom say to use worm castings, which I believe would be a much cleaner tea in the end. It probably has a lot of really great organisms. The compost I buy around here is made using inoculant and in wind rows which are constantly moving. Far as I know, it's the only commercial operation in the US making compost this way. It is 36 dollars a yard. Gold.
Victoria
On 8 Sep 2003 00:51:12 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@attbi.com (Fleemo) opined:

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I have been making some compost tea using an aquarium pump. I have found that I need to turn the air volume to at least in the middle level of my aquarium pump in order to get the sweet earthly smell from the compost tea. If I turn the air volume down to the lowest level (was trying to save electricity), I will have stinky stuff (I will not call it compost tea when it smells).
The aquarium pump that I have is the model 9200 (or 9500???) that I bought from PETCO. It has two air outlets. I find that it is probably overkill for the 5-gal container that I am using. With one outlet plugged, and running air volume at mid level, I still can get compost tea that has sweet earthly smell. I should have bought one model down that has only one air outlet (and run it at mid level of air volume).
Of course, someone may say that turning the air volume all the way to the highest level may be even better. I have no idea if that is true or not. I just want to keep the air volume to be just good enough without using additional electricity or generating more noise.
I have been pouring compost tea to a small area of my lawn for a month. So far, I don't see any difference between the area with compost tea, and the area with plain water. I hope you have a better luck.
Jay Chan
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On 8 Sep 2003 13:04:30 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Jay Chan) wrote:

What are you using for compost and what additioves in your recipe? Perhaps you are making dark colored water and not ACT?
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I use stored bought mushroom composts and some very sweet dark liquid called molasses, mix with aged water, and pump air for two days before using it. I got the formula from a Dr.<something> web site that were repeatedly mentioned in many other web sites for DIY compost-tea.
I don't know what "ACT" you are really referring to.
Frankly, I have a feeling that whatever benefit that the compost tea can give me doesn't justify the amount of work (and electricity and noise) that I put in making it. I have a feeling that I am better off top dressing my plants and lawn with composts (if I can find a vendor that can sell compost in bulk for top-dressing my lawn). The reason is that I can see the benefit of using compost with my own eyes; but I cannot see any benefit of using compost tea.
In one corner of my vegetable garden, I have dumped a large quantity of finished compost in last fall. Now, the vegetable in that corner grow taller, bearing larger fruits than the rest of the vegetable garden even though that corner of the vegetable garden receive the least sun exposure. On the other hand, I cannot see any difference from area in my lawn where I have poured compost tea for one month as comparing to an adjacent area that only receives plain water.
I am not saying that compost tea has no benefit (afterall I only have applied it for one month). I am saying that whatever benefit is very small as comparing to the effort that I have put into preparing the compost tea. I really should have been spending the little time that I have left during a day to take care of my flowers, removing weeds, and to enjoy watching my garden.
I am not against other people from making compost tea as long as they "feel" good in doing this. I just don't have the time in doing this especially when I cannot visually see any difference after using it.
Jay Chan
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On 9 Sep 2003 08:48:50 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Jay Chan) wrote:

Good for you Jay, I agree if you see no results from making a poor product it makes sense to quit...
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