by Seshata on 19/11/2015 | Cultivation

How (and why) to make organic compost tea for cannabis plants

compost Compost tea is traditional compost steeped in water, to create an extract for use as a soil drench or foliar feed. Farmers have used compost tea for generations as a cheap and effective means of adding nutrients to plants; however, the cannabis community only woke up to compost tea’s potential within the last decade or so.


You will need

  • 20 litre bucket
  • Aquarium pump
  • A long pole
  • Muslin or cheesecloth
  • 10 litres good-quality, well-aerated organic compost
  • 250 ml unsulphured organic organic molasses
  • 10 litres of water

Compost tea is traditional compost steeped in water, to create an extract for use as a soil drench or foliar feed. Farmers have used compost tea for generations as a cheap and effective means of adding nutrients to plants; however, the cannabis community only woke up to compost tea’s potential within the last decade or so.

Now, countless products are commercially available, so that you can mix your own compost tea in minutes from a packet if desired. However, making your own compost tea is a fun and rewarding way to learn more about organic plant nutrients, and in the long run will prove much cheaper than buying in expensive pre-mixed products.

But why should I make compost tea for my cannabis plants?

Pretty much every grower of any plant will be aware that adding compost to soil can enrich it greatly. Growers of organic cannabis that mix their own soil make use of compost or its constituents (such as humus or worm castings) as soil additives, and commercial soil mixes usually contain a good proportion of the same.

Compost tea is a cheap and effective way to improve soil health (© Suzie's Farm) - Sensi Seeds Blog
Compost tea is a cheap and effective way to improve soil health (© Suzie’s Farm)

The basic premises underlying the enrichment of soil with compost are provision of micro- and macro-nutrients to your soil; improved drainage, aeration and texture of soil; and (last but certainly not least) development of the so-called ‘soil food web’—the fungi, bacteria and other beneficial microorganisms that naturally live in soil—which form symbiotic relationships with your plants and can seriously improve their overall health and yield.

Compost tea should never be a total replacement for traditional soil additives, but can be a excellent means of complementing and adding to your ‘soil food web’ when used as a soil drench. Compost tea also contains abundant micronutrients that can be absorbed through the stomata of the leaves when used as a foliar spray.

Use a bubbler and pump to ensure aeration of your tea mix (© Stefano Lubiana) - Sensi Seeds Blog
Use a bubbler and pump to ensure aeration of your tea mix (© Stefano Lubiana)

So what do I need to do?

You will need:

  • 10 litres of good-quality, well-aerated organic compost, either pre-bought or home-made (home-made is considerably cheaper. If making your own compost ensure that it is fully mature before use)
  • a 20 litre bucket
  • an aquarium pump with 2 or 3 airstones or bubblers
  • 250 ml of unsulphured organic molasses
  • 10 litres of water
  • a long pole or stick for stirring
  • muslin, cheesecloth or a similar natural textile to strain the mixture

The method:

  • fill the 20l bucket with the 10l of compost and top up with the 10l of water
  • add the 250ml of molasses (you may need more in cold weather, as the microorganisms will require more energy to reproduce)
  • stir the mixture thoroughly, making sure to thoroughly mix up the solids at the bottom
  • place the aquarium pump inside the bucket and switch on, to provide aeration
  • leave to steep for 2-3 days, stirring at least three times per day

 

Your tea is ready when it has achieved a deep brown hue and pleasant aroma (© Stefano Lubiana) - Sensi Seeds Blog
Your tea is ready when it has achieved a deep brown hue and pleasant aroma (© Stefano Lubiana)

After 2-3 days, check the aroma of your compost tea brew. If it smells unpleasant or fermented, add a little more molasses, stir, and leave for another day before checking again. You should  never need to leave your mixture to steep for longer than 3 or 4 days.

When it has achieved a pleasant, light, musty aroma, it is ready to be strained through the muslin or cheesecloth and used. Your compost tea should always be used within the first few hours after being decanted; if this is impossible, add a little more molasses and switch the pump back on, so that the bacteria is provided with oxygen and nourishment. This way, you can extend its life for a few days—but never leave it for any longer than that!

Comment Section

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D

can i spray on my flowering buds?

27/09/2016

Buck

If you feel like smoking compost.

18/10/2016

Colin

> If you feel like smoking compost.

😂😂😂

28/06/2017

arthur

Hey be carefull using molases! It creates an anaerobic enviroment favouring anaerobic microorganisms, which we dont want in this situation!

12/09/2017

L

True, but you can counteract this with enough aeration to your tea, as well as aerating what you normally water with. Anaerobic organisms tend to die off in environments rich in oxygen.

26/09/2017

juan

What if I want a small quantity of this tea compost water because I have one little plant just a beginner? I here you talking about liters of water and compost when it is just me drinking tea and wont produce so much of this tea compost? When you speak about tea: does it speak of all kind like some that I drink: ginger, chamomile, bladderwrack, yellowdock, sea moss, raspberry leaf, epazote, and more or you speak of just green tea itself? Also, someone like me that I have only one little plant how would the guide be like to be of doing ? Can i just dump the left over dried leaves into that plant soil after drinking my tea or make it the way you instructed to? Thanks.

13/11/2017

Scarlet Palmer

Hi Juan,

Thank you for your comment. It looks like you have misunderstood the article, however; the 'tea' it refers to is an aerated mixture of compost and water, not the remains of tea that you drink. It might be possible to make on a smaller scale, but you will still need the same ingredients and equipment to make it work properly. Good luck!

Best wishes,

Scarlet

20/11/2017

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You will need

  • 20 litre bucket
  • Aquarium pump
  • A long pole
  • Muslin or cheesecloth
  • 10 litres good-quality, well-aerated organic compost
  • 250 ml unsulphured organic organic molasses
  • 10 litres of water
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