We got a bunch of yogurt from the Community Kitchen today, and some of them were in 64 ounce containers. I am thinking of re-purposing those to work for an at-home (or office) version of a compost tea maker for people to use for their house and office plants. Those starting seeds in the spring could really use it, too.
I’m trying to decide how to cover the plastic containers — maybe bits of left-over paint, or if that won’t stick to the surface, bits of left over pieces of yarn. (Previously, I was going to use used honey bears, but I decided it was too risky that someone could pour it in their coffee or tea. Ick!) I think I could cover the containers enough that it wouldn’t be a risk.
A friend of mine gave me a small dehydrator that I could dedicate to drying well-composted manure, probably out in the hoophouse. (Frank insists I not do it inside the house. Wimp!)
I’m thinking one container of dried, well-composted manure, one container with a lid with holes punched out to brew the “tea” in. I’d include a mini air pump, tubing, air stone, and a scoop to measure the proper amount of dried manure to put into the water. I found some teeny air pumps that are about $6. I bet I could price the whole set up for under $20 and all of the parts are re-usable, except for the compost.
(You could dry your own, of course, to replenish. Buy more from me. Add coffee grounds to your stash. ((The bacteria really like the boost from the caffeine!)) Add crushed egg shells for extra calcium.) (I think I’m a total composting nerd.)
The theory would be that once or twice a month, you’d decide to brew up a batch for your house or office plants. You’d scoop in some compost, add water, put the tube into the container, turn on the pump and let it bubble away for up to 3 days. Then pour the magic brew of barnyard poo onto all your plants. A little bit goes a long way, and it’s an all natural wonderful fertilizer. It give most of the benefits of manure without the weeds, plus all sorts of beneficial bacteria, fungi and protozoa. Plants just thrive on it.
Aerated compost tea (ACT) really is magical stuff.
The use of air pumps or blowers to aerate or brew compost tea. A compost of high quality is added to aerated water at the rate from 1:4. The water must have a sustained dissolved oxygen content of 6 ppm or higher to be able to support aerobic organisms and be considered an aerobic tea. Water may be warmed slightly but cooler water supports higher dissolved oxygen rates. By aerating the water the extraction and growth of beneficial bacteria, protozoa and fungi that were present in the tea is promoted. Teas are aerated from 12 to 48 hours depending what type of microbes are desired. A short brew of around 12 hours will favor the growth of fungi, while a 24 hour brew will favor the growth of bacteria and a long brew of 36–48 hours will favor the growth of protozoa. Some farmers will add small amounts of supplements that promote growth of these microbes. Molasses will promote the growth of bacteria while kelp and humic acid will promote the growth of fungi. Sometimes sphagnum peat moss or hay is added as a source of protozoa. After brewing is complete ACT should be applied to the field as soon as possible to ensure that the tea is applied to the soil when the microbes are most active. ACT is applied to the soil to boost populations of biology and increase the rate of biological activity in the soil. Sometimes ACT is sprayed on leaves as a disease preventative but the effectiveness of this application is debatable. It is important to use unchlorinated or dechlorinated water when making ACT, since chlorine will kill beneficial microbes.
You do remember the poem that I want on the label, right?
In hindsight it seems fitting
That with Valentine’s Day near
Minerva met the world
In vibrant pink from hoof to ear.
Known to friends as "Minnie,"
She’s renowned at Mack Hill Farm
For her bottle-fed beginnings
And pervasive porcine charm.
Her every move is followed
By the barnyard sows and hogs
Who grant her mythic status as
"The pig who runs with dogs."
While human pals are sleeping
Minnie rallies farmyard friends
To play a round of horseshoes
And concoct her compost blend.
A touch of Minnie’s Magic
Helps dull plants to come alive —
This witch’s brew of barnyard poo
Will make your garden thrive!