Newbie - Compost / Compost Tea

JodiDCMarch 24, 2014

I've been learning online about compost tea, and would like to make a batch for my first attempt at a vegetable garden which is happening now. For years I have tried composting, but I think what I have is not actually compost - not sure.

I have a barrel-style bin into which we have put kitchen scraps, dry leaves, grass clippings, etc. for years, and what's in there now is basically black, dense, wet stuff with a few large pieces (leaves, etc.) that haven't broken down. I think it should be dryer, more like dark soil, correct?

I am wondering whether I can use a bit of this stuff to make a batch of compost tea, or if it could do any harm, assuming what I have is not true/good compost? I am also looking into local sources for true/good compost, but would love to start my tea-brewing immediately and don't know when I might be able to get my hands on someone else's compost.

BTW, now that I'm getting serious about gardening and will want to have good compost, I'm thinking about abandoning this barrel bin that hasn't worked well for me, and just pile scraps/leaves/etc. in an open corner of the garden area then stir it periodically with pitchfork. Would this be recommended, or do you suggest having it in some kind of structure/container?

Thank you in advance for any help!

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Probably better to just use the results of your previous composting to amend the soil. Not really all that important to make compost tea except if you have a specific use, like a weak diluted fertilizer for well established seedlings or something else - I've made lots of compost for years and never needed a compost tea. I've used some barrel-type composters, but personally I prefer my method of cutting 10-foot lengths of a cheap 2"X4"X4' welded wire fencing to form free-standing rings. I cut halfway between the vertical wires to leave tabs, bend 3 or 4 into hooks to hold the ring together, A 50' roll makes five bins. I typically have three bins working at different stages, and several more filled with ground up leaves(brown dry materials) that I use as cover when I bring out my compost bucket or have other "greens." I build my current pile in layers whenever I have greens, layering it with browns. Once I get to the top of a bin, I can start another - layer of browns, then greens, etc. The one that filled up, I can remove the fence ring, set it next to the pile, then turn the pile back into the ring, adding water to moisten as necessary. I usually have one pile finished, or about finished, when I need it, one pile turned and working, and another pile being built over several months while using greens from the kitchen. If I get a bounty of grass clippings(I don't pick them up in my yard) or other greens, I may generate a pile a little quicker. The pile that's working can be made to process quicker by turning and moistening a few extra times, but I'm not usually that impatient. Technically, compost happens all on its own given enough time!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 2:51PM
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