How to make Compost Tea

How to make Compost Tea

It’s no secret that compost is the number one thing you can do to your garden to grow healthy plants that produce an abundance of vegetables.  When planting the spring garden, it’s important that whether you planting seeds or plants, they need adequate water and consistent moisture in or to germinate (seeds) or to establish strong healthy roots (plants).

Rather than using simple water, I accidentally let Mother Nature create compost tea for me over this past winter.  After building the 15 new beds last fall and hauling in aged cow manure, compost and garden soil.  I did have some manure left over, so instead of exposing it to the elements and allowing it to just “go away”, I wanted to store it.  I placed it into 20 gallon tote with a lid and left it sitting outside.  Over the winter, the lid slipped and rain water continued to pour into the tote.  I just left it sitting and as a result, this spring I had a tote full of compost tea for planting / fertilizing. 

I did have lots of mosquito larva in as well, so I had to work quickly to use it up.  I couldn’t stand the thoughts of just dumping it out.  So this is what’s left in the bottom, its not pretty to look at but the garden LOVES it deeply.  I will say that I did go ahead and dump the left over, mosquitos were getting out of hand.  If you want to store compost tea, make sure the container is well sealed to keep out unwanted critters.

You can make your own compost tea very easily and it doesn’t take all winter to do so.

MIX:

5 gallon bucket

1 shovel-scoop of quality aged manure, finished compost, or worm castings (I used manure)

Non-chlorinated water (rain water is best)

(If you must use chlorinated water, fill a separate 5-gallon with water and allow to sit for 2-3 days to allow the chlorine to evaporate)

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.      Dump a shovel of aged manure OR finished compost into the five gallon bucket.  Fill the rest of the way up with the non-chlorinated water.

2.      Stir well with the shovel and set aside for about a week or so.  Keep it stirred 2-3 times a day.

 

APPLY:

Finished tea can be sprayed directly onto the plants themselves or used to drench the soil. If you plan to spray this on your plants, you will need to strain the tea first before putting it into the sprayer.  (I choose to put directly into the soil-much easier)    If tea is really dark, you can add additional water to dilute it some.

When putting your seed/plants into the ground, pour a portion into the hole or in the row and then plant.

What’s your thoughts on compost tea, do you use it?  Feel free to leave comments.

 

Drying Basil

Drying Basil

Our basil is growing and doing great.  Harvesting seems to have started early this year, maybe because I purchased a new species, a simple name “Sweet Basil”.    I did purchase plants instead of planting seeds this year as well.  Anyway, on Friday as I was out walking through and enjoying the garden and I noticed that my basil had some really large leaves, several stems had more than 6-8 leaves on each.    When a stem gets 6-8 leaves on it, prune above the second set to encourage additional growth.  With great excitement, I ran back into the house and grabbed a basket to start harvesting.

There are a couple different ways to harvest/store basil either drying or freezing.  Freezing is the best method.  It prevents it from losing some of its flavor.  Since it’s early in the season though, I opted to dry because canning season is coming and I will be using it in my homemade spaghetti sauces, pizza sauces, pico de gallo, and salsa recipes and I will need crushed dry basil for these.

Drying can be done several different ways as well.  If you’re patient and have time, it can be hanged to dry, placed in a dehydrator, baked in the oven, or if patients are not one of your strength or its needed immediately, you can use the microwave. I have noticed when I use the microwave, it seems to lose additional flavor and since I’m currently not in a hurry – this go around will be hanging.

You will need:

Basil leaves

Rubber bands

Paper lunch bags

Scissors

Permanent Marker

Hanger

Clothes pins

 

Lay your leaves out individually on the counter and gather 10-12 at a time by the stem.  Once you have a small bundle, take a rubber band and wrap around the stems until tight.  As the stems dry and shrink, your rubber band will remain tight holding them together. 

On your paper bag, use the marker and label what will be in the bag and put the date on it.  This helps me tremendously to know specifically when I started drying. 

Use your scissors and cut the bottom off the bag.

Take your basil and insert it into the bag and gather the bag around your stems.  Use a second rubber band and wrap it around your bag with the basil inside.  The purpose of the bag is to keep dust and other stuff from getting on your basil while it is drying over the next few weeks.

After the rubber band is wrapped, use a clothespin and insert one finger side of it under a couple strands of your rubber band.  This will secure your basil for hanging. 

Take a hanger and clip the clothespin to it and hang in a dry dark spot out of the way for 3-4 weeks.  Once dry, remove and process.  Do you grow basil in your garden?