compost tea, fish emulsion in veg garden-- why?

dab07May 8, 2007

i've been reading here about using these things, most recently in a post asking organic gardeners if they do something special with heavy feeders. i don't do anything different with them, and have never tried compost tea or fish emulsion, or done any foliar or local feeding. i'm wondering if there's an advantage to using these, over just putting compost and mulch on the soil. it takes more work, so there must be a reason people do it. how do they affect crops?

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justaguy2(5)

As far as compost tea, I will let those who use them speak to that, but fish emulsion is simply a fertilizer made from fish.

Decent source of nitrogen and some minor nutrients.

Would it benefit you over compost and mulch? Only one way to find out ;-)

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 10:13PM
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maupin(z6 So. IL)

I make and use aerated compost tea. I have found that it increases yield and improves plant resistance to disease. It's like compost on steroids, and easy to make if you have compost. I make it in 32 gallon batches and use it as a foliar feed and a soil drench. When I say foliar feed I mean walking around in the garden with a bucketfull and dousing the plants with it.

With fish emulsion--if you use it make sure to make it weak--too strong and it will seriously burn your plants. But it is a decent pick me up for starts just before planting in a diluted spray.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2007 at 8:33AM
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pablo_nh(z4/5 NH)

"if there's an advantage to using these, over just putting compost and mulch on the soil."

There have been a number of threads on this very question. Bottom line- just adding compost helps. Adding unaerated compost tea helps. Adding aerated tea helps.

After several studies- aerating has not been proven to do anything more than just adding compost or unaerated tea. Maybe someone will find a way to make ACT consistently better than just compost- but until then- there's no proven advantage, just anecdote.

Those who use it swear by it, but that's not comparing it to compost alone (which others use alone and swear by).

Fish emulsion is a fertilizer made from fish. Good stuff if you need NPK.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2007 at 9:20AM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

If you do not have a soil that is well endowed with organic matter, has a good nutrient balance, these may be the crutch you need until your soil is well balanced. Otherwise they will do little for you.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2007 at 9:42AM
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maupin(z6 So. IL)

Visit Captain Compost's website. Captain Compost Alabama .com. (I spell it this way because gardenweb does not allow the postin of links.) Lot's of good info on compost and tea.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2007 at 2:15PM
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dab07

thanks, all. i don't generally have any problems in the garden, other than the annual disappointing surprise, which is different every year. so i wondered if i should go to the extra effort of making these things. i will someday, when i have the time.

i have to say, this is a forum i really respect -- and it has humbled me. i used to think i pretty much had it down as far as organic veg. gardening goes, but after reading this website for a couple of years now, i realize i have so much to learn. many of you really know your stuff. i'm impressed, and thankful!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2007 at 8:08PM
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dicot

My favorite use of very weak fish emulsion or compost tea is while growing seedlings in low-organic potting mix. Here in SoCal, a lot of the xeric species, like certain salvias, prefer not to sit in wet potting soil with bark or manure - instead with coco noir and sand or cocoa hulls or perlite. These seedlings seem to enjoy a quick nitrogen boost in a readily soluble form.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2007 at 12:47AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

i have to say, this is a forum i really respect -- and it has humbled me. i used to think i pretty much had it down as far as organic veg. gardening goes, but after reading this website for a couple of years now, i realize i have so much to learn. many of you really know your stuff. i'm impressed, and thankful!

These are my sentiments, too. I started here in late 2001 and found a very steep learning curve. Most of my early GardenWeb gurus have moved on, but I am most grateful to them for them sharing their fascinating experiences and knowledge.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2007 at 1:59AM
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captaincompostal(z7 AL Bham)

I love to use aerated compost tea recipes, fish emulsion, and homemade seaweed teas, in my gardening style. However ACT is definitely my favorite, because there is basically an unlimited way to brew it, (or spice it up) for whatever lawn, garden, herbal, or ornamental garden design you desire.

Happy Gardening!

    Bookmark   May 10, 2007 at 11:08AM
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ziggy___(z5/6 PA)

Why??? Because it provides something that their soil needs to grow what they like to grow. The philosophy translates well across the web, but the specifics often don't. I live in PA and grow mostly veggies and natives in acidic clay soil. A recipe for compost tea, or other idea that does wonders for someone growing roses in alkaline sugar sand in FL may do nothing for me. Only trial and error based on some educated guesses will prove what works for you.

Ziggy

    Bookmark   May 10, 2007 at 1:43PM
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