Compost Tea

ramcoach(6)April 29, 2008

Can compost tea be as effective as compost when putting it on a lawn.

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billhill(z5 MI - KBG)

That's a somewhat controversial subject. It depends on what your goals are in using compost. If you only want to increase the bacterial and fungal organism populations, then tea is the cheap and easy way. If you are trying to increase organic matter or amend your soil to soften and promote better drainage, then apply compost. Compost is not fertilizer. It is best described as a soil conditioner. Compost, top dressed, or otherwise incorporated into your soil acts like a sponge. It sucks up moisture and nutrients when they are present and releases them to the plants when needed. It continues to decay slowly, releasing nutrients and building humus in the soil.
Compost application can be very expensive and labor intensive. One cubic yard per 1000 sq. ft. is the usual application rate. Shovel rake and broom is the usual method of spreading it. I make and use a lot of compost. It has many fine qualities and certainly does improve the soil. So does tea, but how much OM is in a pail of tea. Gardenweb has a compost forum, you may want to check it out. Google search would reveal lots of information. Bill Hill

Here is a link that might be useful: Soil, compost and mulch forum

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 12:59PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

If more people would simply listen to me, then all the controversy would go away ;-)

First of all, what do you think either compost or compost tea will do for a lawn? We need to know what your criteria for success are.

You would have to be a microbiologist and do 100 trials to answer your specific question. The ideal compost tea will multiply the microbes by a factor of 1,000x so you can use very little compost to get a big result. However the only microbes that survive the process are the ones that live in both compost and water and they can stand the brewing process without dieing or being eaten by other microbes.

I disagree slightly with billhill's statement about the sponge. It is not the compost that makes the soil act like a sponge, it is the resulting population explosion of fungi that makes it like a sponge.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 6:44PM
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dchall, I have read the faq page on organic lawn care and that page says you need to put compost on you lawn to start this program. I want my lawn to look good and I want to do it the right way. If I can save money by applying tea then this is the route I want to go. If to do this correctly I need to brush compost in, I will do it this way. I guess I am just looking for a cheaper \ easier way to get compost down on my grass with the same results.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 10:14AM
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billhill(z5 MI - KBG)

Of course I am not DCHall so hope you donÂt mind if I jump in with my 2 cents. A 100 percent accurate answer to your question would be difficult with knowing your soil conditions. Assuming you are East of the Mississippi and in zone 6, you probably have some decent topsoil, an established lawn growing on it and at least a little organic material in the soil (i.e. neither beach sand nor hard baked clay) If thatÂs the case, then I propose the following: OK your stated goal is to have a good looking lawn using organic methods. It is my opinion that you do not need compost just to switch your lawn-care from synthetics to organics. I would go further and say that you donÂt really need tea to supply microbes. They are already in your soil and just need to be fed. Organic matter is very good for a lawnÂs soil. Mulch mow your grass returning the clippings to the soil. Mulch mow all your fallen leaves into your lawn and let them de-compost in place over winter. To switch to organics, all YOU have to do is start feeding your lawn with grains and wean your lawn off chemical weed killers. Keep reading and posting here and you will pick up lots of knowledge regarding organic lawn care. Good luck with your newly organic lawn. Bill Hill

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 1:38PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

dchall, I have read the faq page on organic lawn care and that page says you need to put compost on you lawn to start this program.

Aaah, then you didn't read this Organic Lawn Care FAQ. It offers an alternative.

And please feel free to ask questions about the FAQs. If there is something you don't understand, we can all help with our opinions and help you form your own opinion based on what you know. The FAQ I wrote is not the be-all/end-all definitive treatise for organic lawn care. Well, it is for me, but it certainly is not for everyone ;-)

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 6:04PM
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FWIW, from personal experience only, compost is better than compost tea.

Compost tea is good stuff for me but applying the actual compost on the soil gives "stronger" results.

But you could do so many things to add organic matter to your soil. The FAQ's give excellent advice IMHO.

Just be patient and consistent, you'll get there. It ain't difficult.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2008 at 2:29PM
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