Environment Celebration Institute

Using Compost Tea Or Extract

By Elaine Ingham

Making  a tea or extract needs to be done to see how concentrated the compost and growth of organisms is.

EXTRACTS are usually applied to soil
TEAS are applied to foliage. Organisms have to be active and growing to make the glues to stick to surfaces.

MINIMUM BIOLOGY NEEDED: Use a microscope to assess the compost: Using a 1:5 dilution of compost, 400X total magnification, there should be a MINIMUM of thousands of bacteria in each field of view, 1 strand of fungal hyphae in each 5 fields, 1 flagellate or amoebae in each 5 to 10 fields of view and 1 beneficial nematode per drop.

For Extracts, extract enough compost to bring the extract to the same levels of biology as were present in the compost.

For Teas, brew using foods that will bring the organisms to the same levels as were present in the compost

For perennials, use a very fungal compost ( 1 strand of fungal hyphae per field) with good protozoa (1 flagellate or amoebae per field) and beneficial nematodes (more than 1 beneficial nematode per drop). In addition, add humic acid, or fish hydrolysate or kelp to the extract as you apply it (hose end applicator).  Use an extract on the soil. It only takes a half hour to make the liquid to go out. The organisms in the compost should be active, but not necessarily growing rapidly, as they would be if a tea was made. You don’t need to apply a tea to soil — the organisms will awake, and begin to grow faster if they are applied to the soil and find places with food, moisture, and air that they like.

For annuals, apply balanced compost, good fungal and bacterial compost.

To switch from applying extract to perennials to applying to annuals, just reduce the amount of fish and humic acid.

Use a balanced fungal and bacterial compost (at least the minimum biology as described above). The amount applied to the soil is determined by the organisms in the tea. If the tea has excellent numbers of what is missing in the soil, then you could apply as little as 5 gallons per acre. If there are good levels of organisms, then 10 gallons per acre, if there really aren’t many organisms, then 20 gallons per acre. The tea is needed only if you need the organisms to be quit active, making glues, so the organisms stick to the leaf surface, or if you don’t have much good compost, so you have to grow the organisms to increase numbers enough that you have enough.