by Frank Niccoli
What is compost tea? Compost tea is a liquid produced by leaching all of the good things from compost. This would include soluble nutrients, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and nematodes. And why would we want to inoculate our garden with this mixture? In the same way that we ingest certain compounds into our bodies to prevent or lessen the incidents of disease, we use compost tea to do the same thing.
Our modern society with shortcuts to fertilization, insect and disease control is actually doing our gardens more harm than good. Let’s look at fertilizer for example. High nitrogen fertilizers decrease the beneficial populations of organisms significantly. This radically alters the immune systems of our plants. Instead of a plant drawing from a selection of about 25,000 species of beneficial bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and nematodes, the act of constantly using high nitrogen fertilizers reduces that population to about 25 and increases the antagonist (the bad guys) population. We are killing our plant with an act of supposed kindness.
Compost tea adds back to plants and soil beneficial populations of protagonists to afford the plant with species-diversity by allowing it to fight off infection and disease using natural predators.. It is like getting a tetanus shot. Your body has the correct infection fighting material that it needs to wall of the infection before it overwhelms the body’s defense. Compost tea enhances plant growth by protecting plant surfaces with beneficial organisms which occupy infection sites and prevent disease-causing organisms from taking hold or even locating the plant.
Compost teas also improve the soils ability to retain nutrients. As a result, general fertilizer use is decreased. This reduces the amount of pollution from synthetic inorganic fertilizers that contaminate our water. This allows the the populations of the beneficials to grow which improves soil structure by taking the by-products of these organisms and gluing soil particles and organic matter together. This helps to produce the granular soil structure which is ideal for plant life.
We, at The Village Gardener, are committed to using compost teas. Many of you have seen the significant differences this has has made to your own gardens. Lawns sparkle, citrus produces like never before, plants thrive, and all of this is achieved without fertilizers.